When you go to Rome, you may be as excited about the food as you are about seeing the Colosseum. However, with tourist traps surrounding all the major attractions, it is easy to walk into the wrong place where the bill is more impressive than the food. But finding good food really isn’t that hard. First, follow a few simple rules:
- Always walk at least two blocks away from a major tourist attraction before looking around for a place to eat
- Never eat at a place displaying an English | Spanish | French menu and advertising free WiFi
- Ask your tour guide where they eat
- Look for locals, not tourists
- When stopping for gelato, avoid the places with bright fluffy gelato in colors not found in nature. Go for the “real” gelato made without chemicals from stands like Fatamorgana.
If you want a good meal in Rome, here are a few restaurants my family recommends.
Near the Colosseum
Taverna dei Fori Imperiali – located between the Colosseum and Piazza Venezia, Taverna dei Fori Imperiali does offer a menu in English, but you’ll also see plenty of local families enjoying the food. The carbonara here was the best I’ve ever tasted, and this is one of my favorite pasta dishes! I didn’t even order it but I kept stealing the ultra-crispy, succulent pieces of guanciale off of my daughter’s plate. I also raved about their artichoke hearts sautéed in lemon and wine – I wish this was something I could get at home!
Caffe Propaganda – just a five-minute walk from the Colosseum, but on the non-touristy side of town, Caffe Propaganda definitely caters to locals. With upscale, French bistro décor, the menu presents a modern take on classic Italian dishes. Our appetizers were creative and simply delicious, including their eggplant croquettes — delicious little bites with eggplant, buffalo mozzarella, and little tomatoes – and their salad misticanza di campo. I’d also recommend their pasta cacio e pepe (salt and pepper) and amtriciana, and my husband couldn’t get enough of their modern take on tiramisu.
Near Piazza Venezia
Taverna degli Amici – a couple of blocks away from Piazza Venezia, not too far from the Pantheon, Taverna degli Amici is in a quiet piazza, with indoor and outdoor seating. There was very little English spoken, but it was easy enough to find some delicious food, including the best gnocchi we had in Rome.
In Piazza Navona
Ristorante Tre Scalini – in Piazza Navona you need to break all the rules and go for the touristy place and pay more to sit at an outdoor table and people watch. At Tre Scalini you won’t be disappointed with the chocolate tartufo, after all, they did invent this scrumptious dessert.
Near the Roman Forum
Da Giggetto – not far from the Roman Forum, Piazza Venezia, or even the Pantheon, Da Giggetto in the heart of the Jewish Ghetto district is THE place to get fried artichokes (carciofi alla Guida) and other fritti.
I Suppli – exploring the neighborhood of Trastevere is a treat itself, but all that walking around can build up an appetite. When you need a quick snack, stop at I Suppli for one of their many varieties of its namesake. Suppli are fried rice balls stuffed with meats, cheeses and other ingredients. Unlike Sicilian arancini, the rice is cooked in a tomato sauce instead of broth, giving it a rich flavor.
Enoteca Ferrara – situated in a historic building dating back to the 1400s, this enoteca is run by two sisters Lina and Maria, a chef and sommelier duo. The stone interior, wood ceilings, and gorgeous wine cellar create a cozy and authentic ambience, allowing the food to really shine. We enjoyed a trio of spinach and ricotta ravioli, gnocchi, and risotto with zucchini blossoms with a glass of wine – a perfect Roman lunch!
Spirito di Vino – located in a building that was once a synagogue, Spirito di Vino is sitting on hidden treasure – literally. Its wine cellar predates the Colosseum and some of the statues and relics found there are now in the Vatican Museums. But they have another treasure upstairs. The décor may look dated but Spirito di Vino gave us one of our favorite bites of Rome, crème brulee, and it couldn’t have seemed less “Italian.” This creme brûlée does not have the fired sugar top like we are accustomed to and instead of being custardy, it was light, delicate, fluffy and creamy.
If you want help finding the best bites in Rome, I’d recommend a food tour with Eating Italy Food Tours – you’ll walk away full of some of the tastiest foods from places you wouldn’t have discovered on your own.
Just thinking of all the delicious food we ate in Rome makes me want to pack my bags and head back to Italy!