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. While conventional trattorias still dominate the dining options with a predictable (if delicious) litany of specialties such as cacio e pepe, carbonara, roasted lamb, and assorted offal, delicious alternatives are increasingly popular, from fast-food riffs on local recipes to international flavors and neo-trattorias nudging tradition forward.
Though the past decade has seen some serious shifts in local dining habits, generally speaking, lunch is served from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. The city is incredibly busy, particularly with travelers who plan their dining itineraries far in advance, meaning last minute reservations are difficult. Consider booking a month ahead for sought-after spots like Armando, Salumeria Roscioli, and Santo Palato (all of which offer online booking). Many other places are so understaffed and overwhelmed they aren’t even able to answer the phone some days, so booking requires a bit of luck and good timing; calling at the very end of service is your best bet.
Updated, June 2022:
Travel has resumed in the Italian capital, but COVID continues to foment uncertainty, causing staffing issues at restaurants. Service can be chaotic or idiosyncratic, so it pays to turn up with a healthy dose of empathy and patience. But there are silver linings too. Outdoor seating, once prohibitively expensive or impossible to secure, is now the norm, even at places on busy streets, like wine bar Il Goccetto. Another plus is that pizzerias are booming, as the expansion of I Quintili and 180g Pizzeria Romana attest. The pandemic economy has also widened delivery options, so a handful of the places recommended here are available via delivery apps such as Deliveroo and Glovo. Despite any added stress, dining and drinking in the city is as special and exciting as ever.
Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.
Katie Parla is a Rome-based food and beverage journalist, culinary guide, and award-winning cookbook author. She is the host of Katie Parla’s Rome and Katie Parla’s Roman Kitchen on Recipe.TV, and the co-host of the GOLA podcast about Italian food and drinks culture.Read More