Piazza Augusto Imperatore
The ‘Gusto chain of restaurant, osteria, pizzeria, wine bar, enoteca, and kitchenwares shop have the monopoly on the entire piazza near my studio. It’s great for fancy meals but it’s definitely a splurge. I prefer the Osteria for evening meals and the bar on the piazza (not the wine bar on Via Frezza) for drinks and nibblies after work. The “aperitivo hour” includes a plate that you can fill up with all sorts of cooked goodies and Fridays are great because it’s seafood! A lot of places offer snacks with your aperitivo but ‘Gusto cook them rather than just opening up cans.
Ristorante Tre Pupazzi
Borgo Pio, 183
I used to live near the Vatican and my favourite restaurant has just closed down (to make room for extensions on LUMSA university). It is such a shame as it was a fantastic place and I knew it was good because every time I would go there I would run into my neighbours. Another sign that you are onto a good thing is to see priests dining at the table next to you! Somehow they seem to be in the know! This restaurant is decked out in black and white on a Saturday night (seafood night) and it is not just the waiters in their striped waistcoats! Not cheap but draws a crowd. Closed Sundays (surprise surprise!)
Borgo Vittorio, 92
For all you steak lovers out there! Go downstairs to what appears like a cellar, and choose from a seemingly endless menu of the best quality meat Italy has to offer. Choose your steaks from the glass case and have it cooked on a slab of lava. This place hasn’t really caught on with the tourist crowd – you’ll find it filled with Italians (and not just Romans) in the know.
Via Del Gesù, 87
06 679 0821
I was introduced to this restaurant by a very good friend of mine who had lived in Rome for over 20 years. It’s located between the Pantheon and Largo di Torre Argentina, and I’ve lost count of the people I’ve taken there now. Open only for lunch and great for a loud, crowded, tasty, fun lunch, with a waitress that never stops smiling through the chaos. The secret is out!
Via Belsiana 94 A
Tel (39) 06 6791130
I love this place. The waiters are typically Roman – they have to wear hideous black and white waistcoats and their manner is a bit brusque, but the food is as good as you will get for the location. Large servings and great prices, a standard menu but with some seasonal “piatti del giorno”. There are some tables outside in the summer but I’ll take what I can get as it is usually crowded with both locals and tourists. Open for lunch and dinner but closed on Tuesdays.
FIASCHETTERIA BELTRAMME* currently closed but hopefully will reopen soon.
Via Della Croce, 39
Whilst just around the corner from Trattoria Giggi (listed above), this place is miles away in terms of your culinary experience. And the line of people outside waiting for a table will testify to this. They do not take reservations. The menu is quite small but excellent, and this combined with the intimate decor, makes it a great all rounder. The staff are very nice and there is one large “communal” table at the back that seats single diners. You might find yourself eating with the local businessmen or with the owner. Prices are not cheap, but not too expensive either – basically you get what you pay for.
MERCATO MONTE D’ORO
Piazza Monte D’Oro
Tel (39) 06 6867888
You will not find this one in any guidebook. A tiny kiosk inside a tiny market, off Via Tomicelli (the extension of Via Condotti). A great place if you are on your way from the Spanish Steps to the Vatican.
This kiosk is located in the middle of a fruit and veggie market and has a great menu including many seasonal foods. Get in quick as it’s trading hours are from 12:30- 1:30. They have wonderful standard pasta dishes and great salads amongst their “piatti del giorno” (dish of the day). You can order to take away “da portare via” or eat standing up at their tables. Fridays are especially good with an assortment of baked fish and potatoes, and “fritti” (deep fried seafood) where you pay by the weight. Get in early or call ahead as it seems that they usually sell out within 30 minutes. I don’t come here everyday but in my three years in Rome I have yet to see a tourist here!
Piazza de’Renzi, 15
Tel (39) 06 5803798
No website and no chance of booking tables. This restaurant is in Trastevere and nowhere near the studio, but I love to take people here when I have guests. Line up out the front with the best of them and wait for a place, which could easily sit six people at a table that normally seats four. But it’s worth it. They have a very limited menu, depending on the season, and their “piatti del giorno” (dish of the day) is likely to sell out at midday! I say take what you can get because it will be fresh, genuine and well priced. Enjoy!