18 of My Go-To Spots in Rome That Aren’t Tourist Traps

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Advisor - Suzanne Lee
Curated By

Suzanne Lee

  • Rome

  • Food & Wine

  • Arts & Culture

  • Local Food

  • Local Culture

  • History

18 of My Go-To Spots in Rome That Aren’t Tourist Traps
Curator’s statement

I always say that the best way to experience a city is to eat your way through it. As one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, it’s easy to get sucked into a tourist trap in Rome… I won’t let that happen to you. Below are some of the foods that I think about all year round. You’re welcome.

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Da Enzo al 29 (Trastevere):

This goes first because it's my favorite pasta spot and I tell everyone to go here. It's a hole-in-the wall trattoria that has a line out the door every day for good reason. My favorites are the carbonara and the Gricia, but you really can't go wrong with anything on the menu. Save room for dessert to try the mousse al mascarpone con fragoline di bosco (wild strawberries).

Armando al Pantheon (Piazza della Rotonda / Pantheon):

This is a great place for the four Roman pastas (cacio e pepe, carbonara, amatriciana, and Gricia). I also want to point out that the Abbacchio alla Scottadito (grilled lamb chops) is one of the best dishes I've ever had. Sit outside and you’ll be able to stare at the Pantheon throughout your meal… It truly doesn’t feel real. You can and should book a table in advance through their website.

Antico Forno Roscioli (Largo Argentina):

So much goodness at Antico Forno Roscioli, I could eat here multiple times per day. Stop in for a quick lunch - pizza cut by weight, sandwiches, pastries, etc. (the red pizza is a must). You can eat outside the shop or take it "per camminare" (to walk) and they'll wrap it up for easy access as you stroll down the dreamy cobblestone streets.

Emma (Largo Argentina):

Among other things (pasta, meats, etc.), Emma, by the aforementioned Roscioli group, serves a wide variety of delicious Roman-style pizzas. Bonus: you can make reservations in advance through their website.

Ai Marmi (Trastevere):

A lively spot for excellent Roman-style pizza. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.

I Supplì (Trastevere):

A tiny take-away spot that is cranking out some of Rome’s best supplì aka fried rice balls.

Eggs (Trastevere):

As you may be able to guess from the name, Eggs is serving various types of carbonara. While it’s fun to try the different iterations (with mushrooms, with black truffle, with artichokes, with duck eggs and confit, with shrimp and more), I’m partial to the classic carbonara, which they do extremely well.

Checco er Carettiere (Trastevere):

There is no shortage of phenomenal restaurants in Trastevere and Checco er Carettiere is up there as one of my favorites. The Taglioni con carciofi (artichokes) is quite possibly one of the best pasta dishes I've ever eaten, which is saying a lot. The pasta is so fresh and is topped with a buttery mix of Roman-style artichokes and tomatoes, which is then topped with fried artichokes. I'm very passionate about food and this dish is a must-order. Period.

Zia Rosetta (Monti):

If you're looking for a quick lunch while walking around Rome, head to Zia Rosetta in one of my favorite Roman neighborhoods, Monti. Zia Rosetta serves quality sandwiches on rose-shaped bread that has a crunchy crust and a soft interior (aka a Rosetta) that I think about all year long. I'm partial to the "Peggy Rockefeller" which consists of prosciutto, grilled eggplant and crispy parmesan. If you want to try a few options, you can also order a variety of "mini" rosette.

Dar Filettaro a Santa Barbara (Campo de' Fiori):

I know it sounds silly to fly all the way to Rome (especially from California) and eat at a restaurant with Santa Barbara in the name... It's not. I stopped by on a busy night (with tables full of diners spilling out onto the cobblestone in front of the restaurant) for one thing: a freshly fried filet of baccalà per camminare (aka to walk with). The front-of-house staff sent me straight back to the kitchen to order the filet directly from the chef, who flash-fried the fish right there in front of me, wrapped it in paper and sent me on my way. These types of interactions are what I love most about Italy.

Red pizza at Antico Forno Roscioli

Image 1: Red pizza at Antico Forno Roscioli ; Image 2: Tiramisu at Bar Pompi

A pastry on white paper on a table

Image 1: Maritozzo at Caffe Sant' Eustachio ; Image 2: Carbonara at Da Enzo al 29

Trapizzino (Various Locations):

Trapizzino is a cross between a pizza and a sandwich, stuffed with so much goodness. My go-to is the doppia panna e alici (stracciatella and anchovies). While there are now multiple locations throughout Rome (and the world), I usually find myself at the location in the Mercato Centrale food hall next to Roma Termini train station, which you can access from the street or through the Duty Free store from inside the station. If I’m arriving at or leaving from Roma Termini, you can bet I’m ordering a Trapizzino to go.

Osteria Al Vicolo 9 (Monti):

This is a true local spot where the menu is large and the food is delicious. If you're an adventurous eater and are interested in trying tripe (intestines), order it here. There are two local bars very close by that are situated on an ivy covered street and fun for aperitivo before dinner - Ai Tre Scalini and Barzilai - so arrive to dinner early, sit outside, and enjoy people watching at its finest. Barzilai has a walk-up window for beer and wine which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Sant’Eustachio (Piazza di Sant'Eustachio):

Established in 1938, Sant’Eustachio is one of Rome’s oldest and most famous coffee houses. Order un caffè and un maritozzo (coffee and a sweet bun filled with whipped cream), grab a seat outside, and people watch in this perfect piazza located between the Pantheon and Piazza Navona.

Bar Pompi (Various Locations):

When I lived in Rome in 2009, my former “host dad” turned dear friend asked if I liked tiramisu, to which I replied yes, obviously… Right then, he took me on a little adventure to Bar Pompi. Believe me when I say - no tiramisu has ever lived up to this one. There are multiple locations throughout Rome, including one by the Spanish Steps which I'm sure you'll be near at some point. There are multiple flavor options - the classic (my favorite), strawberry, pistachio, banana and chocolate, hazelnut, caramel, and wild berry - and they are all 5 euro for a single-portion to-go box (which could actually feed two). It may be the best 5 euro you spend on your trip.

Giolitti (Pantheon):

An iconic gelateria that is over 120 years old. There are countless gelato flavors and various pastries that are sure to hit the spot. You know you’ll be eating gelato multiple times during your stay in Italy so you might as well check out this Roman institution… There’s a reason it has been around since 1900. Pro tip: Place your order at the register up front before getting in line to choose your flavors.

Stravinskij Bar at the Hotel de Russie (Piazza del Popolo):

Located next to Piazza del Popolo and Villa Borghese, Hotel de Russie is such a special place, which makes Stravinskij Bar in the outdoor courtyard an equally special place. While it’s a little pricier (15-25 euro per drink), the well-crafted cocktails and atmosphere are just lovely. As a Rocco Forte partner, ask about what added amenities I can offer you when staying at Hotel de Russie… Because let’s face it, you won’t want to leave once you get there so you might as well book a room.

Need to Know

There is so much more to Rome than the top tourist sites (which you should definitely see!) so spend an extra few days there to allow yourself time to roam around and eat your way through other parts of the city too... You'll appreciate Rome so much more.

This trip report is part of our ongoing series on travel to Rome. In need of further inspiration? Check out Jennifer Schwartz’s guide, Guide to Picturesque Picnics in and around Rome.

Advisor - Suzanne Lee

Travel Advisor

Suzanne Lee

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