Roman cuisine is defined by a unique set of ingredients, techniques, and dishes that set it apart from the food of all other Italian cities. Generational trattorias serve a delicious (if predictable) litany of specialties such as cacio e pepe, carbonara, roasted lamb, and assorted offal. Their ranks are bolstered by a number of neo-trattorias that take a fresh approach to the classics — just one way young chefs are nudging tradition forward in the Italian capital. There are also plenty of international flavors offering a break from the pecorino Romano- and guanciale-laden Roman classics.
Travelers tend to plan their dining itineraries far in advance, meaning last minute reservations are difficult. Consider booking a month ahead for sought-after spots. While some restaurants do offer online booking, you’ll have to try your luck by phone elsewhere, including at places so understaffed they aren’t even able to answer the phone some days; calling at the very beginning or end of service is your best bet.
Updated, September 2023:
Rome’s still sweltering during the day but the nights are cooling off, which theoretically signals that fall — and the pumpkins, mushrooms, and persimmons that come with it — is just around the corner. For the time being though, market stalls are still packed with bursting figs, blooming zucchini flowers, and sweet melons. On the restaurant front, dining venues with international influences are on the rise, places like chef Roy Caceres’s Orma, where Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines mingle in a contemporary, fine dining setting. Craft cocktail bar the Jerry Thomas Bar Room, named for an American pre-Prohibition celebrity bartender, slings Sazeracs and Manhattans alongside Italian classic cocktails in an intimate space designed to look and feel like a luxury train car from the turn of the 20th century. Meanwhile, Tianci Chongqing Farm Hot Pot transports mala-driven specialties from the eponymous Chinese megacity to a space near the Trevi Fountain.
Amidst all the culinary innovation, Rome remains as crowded as ever. Bring a healthy dose of empathy and patience to every meal.
Eater updates this list quarterly to make sure it reflects the ever-changing dining scene in Rome.
Katie Parla is a Rome-based food and beverage journalist, culinary guide, and New York Times best-selling cookbook author. Her latest cookbook, Food of the Italian Islands, is available now.Read More