Carb-load at Be.Re. before a visit to the Vatican Museums, the largest and most physically demanding monument in town. Be.Re.’s gleaming copper bar pours craft beer from Italy and abroad, while the adjacent annex serves trapizzini (around €4), a recently invented take on the pizza: a trapizzino is a thick slices of sourdough bread filled to order with typical Roman dishes such as simmered oxtail, chicken alla cacciatora, and tongue with parsley sauce. The hearty innovation is the perfect embodiment of Rome’s modern food traditions: economical, thoughtfully prepared, and rooted in the flavours of the past.
• Via Vespasiano 2, on Facebook
Terre e Domus wine bar
At the base of the Capitoline Hill, Terre e Domus is a joint venture between the government and chef Marco Pasquali, aimed at promoting food produced in Rome and its environs. The strictly seasonal menu highlights the region’s bounty, with dishes such as vignarola (a spring stew of broad beans, peas, artichokes and lettuce, €10), while year-round items such as amatriciana (pasta with pancetta and tomato, €10) is a bright and balanced dish. Go at lunchtime and grab a table near the floor-to-ceiling windows for views over second-century Trajan’s column and the Forum.
• Foro Traiano 82; on Facebook
In spite of the name, which means “grotty tavern”, this is a pleasant family-run trattoria serving excellent food in bright rooms near Trastevere Station. Umbrian-born founder Bruno Persiani has passed the reins to his Roman-raised daughters and the result is a menu merging central Italian mountain traditions like pappardelle with boar ragù (around €13) and Roman classics. The spaghetti alla gricia (with pancetta, pecorino cheese and black pepper, €11) is one of Rome’s most satisfying versions. The wood-fired pizzas are crisp and delicious and the chef also uses the wood-burning oven to slow-roast punta di petto (beef brisket, €13) and maialino (suckling pig, €13) to tender, succulent perfection.
• Via G da Castelbolognese 63, latavernacciaroma.com
Tempio di Iside
Francesco Tripodi, a Calabrian transplant to Rome, serves supremely fresh fish at this cavernous restaurant near the Colosseum. The menu is divided into raw and cooked starters, such as fish carpaccio (€20) and roasted scallops (€16), pasta dishes – alle vongole (with clams) and ai ricci (sea urchins, both €16) are outstanding – and whole fish baked in salt or roasted with potatoes. The menu changes slightly to reflect seasonal catch, but Tempio di Iside’s kitchen always balances exceptional quality and freshness with minimalist techniques.
• Via Pietro Verri, 11, isideristorante.it
Cesare al Casaletto
On the ground floor of a residential block near Villa Pamphilj, Rome’s largest public park, Cesare al Casaletto is the quintessential Roman trattoria. The menu features the Roman cuisine’s greatest hits: carbonara, gricia, amatriciana (all around €11) and a healthy sampling of quinto quarto (offal). There’s also plenty for vegetarians: tonnarelli cacio e pepe offers a perfect balance of savory pecorino and piquant black pepper. But be sure to kick it all off with fried appetisers – croquettes of shredded beef or aubergine, or baby squid. Pair it all with shockingly affordable sparkling and still wines from Italy, Slovenia and France.
• Via del Casaletto 45, trattoriadacesare.it
Armando al Pantheon
As the name suggests, Armando is next to the city’s most intact ancient structure, but in spite of its location, it remains dedicated to serving Rome’s soulful classics, such as spaghetti alla gricia (around €10.50) and coda alla vaccinara (stewed oxtail, €18). Armando Gargioli opened this Roman institution in 1961 and now his children and grandchildren run the place, weaving a few original creations onto the menu, like calamari with tomatoes and saba (grape molasses, €14). It’s small and very popular, so use the online booking system to bag a place in the homely dining room, embellished with artwork donated by decades of regulars.
• Salita dei Crescenzi 31, armandoalpantheon.it
Sorpasso is in three distinct zones: a handful of outdoor seats, crowded with standing and seated customers sipping wine; a bar area flanked by hanging cured meats and shelves of wine; and a dining room serving a full menu of pasta, meat, and fish dishes. The first two zones are ideal for snacks such as a cheese plate (€10), a selection of salamis (€9), or a salad (from €6.50) with wine or a cocktail. The back room specialises in simple pastas (around €12) and trapizzini (from €3.50).
• Via Properzio 31, sorpasso.info
Down a nondescript alley and packed with sketches and paintings by artistic regulars, Al Moro is among Rome’s most historic trattorias. Now on its fourth generation of ownership, Al Moro is a favourite of Roman aristocracy and well-heeled travellers who love the sort of dishes that have virtually vanished from the city’s tables: aminelle burro e funghi (sweetbreads with mushrooms, €28), calves liver (€24), and tagliatelle con le rigaje (with tomatoes and chicken giblets, €22). There are plenty of mainstream dishes, too, like spaghetti alla Moro, the house version of carbonara, with pancetta-enriched egg sauce seasoned with red pepper flakes (€22).
• Vicolo delle Bollette 13, ristorantealmororoma.com
The residential Flaminio district around the MAXXI art gallery and Parco della Musica auditorium attracts culture vultures who stick around for a glass and a snack at the zone’s growing number of casual bistros and wine bars. Among them is Mostò, a spartan wine bar where the main decor is the shelving filled with bottles of Italian vino and sparkling French wine. The menu features light fare such as steak tartare and beef carpaccio (both around €15) and buffalo mozzarella (around €13). When in season, these and other dishes can be dusted with fine truffle shavings.
• Viale Pinturicchio 32, on Facebook
Antico Caffè Vitti
The area around the Spanish Steps is one of most congested in Rome. Retreat to one of Vitti’s outdoor tables on the relatively tranquil and exceedingly elegant Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina. The 120-year-old family-run cafe serves coffee and pastries at breakfast and sandwiches (from €3.50 at the bar, €7 at a table) at lunch. In the evening, the tables fill up with professionals sipping Aperol spritzes after work.
• Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina 33, vitti.it