Rome’s Dining Highlights
During a recent holiday to Rome, my travel companion and I had the opportunity to experience well-known restaurants and lesser-known gems, as we were lucky to have a few Roman friends who could show us around.. Rome has all the pleasure—and food—one could ask for, from the casual pizza stop at the corner pizzeria to the copious amounts of the finest red wine at every official (and unofficial meal) to the dessert and coffee at the end. While I won’t describe all of the places where we shared a treat, a few stick out among others, and I highly recommend trying them when you’re next in Rome.
Ciampini, located on Piazza di San Lorenzo in Lucina (about a few minutes walk from Via del Corso, one of the main streets), was hands down the best place we dined during our nine-day holiday. The sidewalk terrace allows for the best people watching, and the inside of the restaurant is equally as appealing. We started with a selection of pizzas, sliced in tiny pieces perfect for sharing.
The Margherita Ciampini is to die for, and if you like mushrooms you must try the Vegetariana. It’s safe to say the best pizza we had during the entire trip was at Ciampini. After the restaurant’s famous aperitif, I tried the carbonara along with a glass of house red. Apologies for more superlatives, but the carbonara at Ciampini was the best carbonara I had the entire time—and I had a lot of carbonara!
If you’re looking for really good food near an ancient monument that isn’t too pricey, Squisito Cook is the place to go. Located on a hill across from the Colosseum at Via del Colosseo 31, Squisito Cook has the best view of the Colosseum—perfect to enjoy while you eat. The pasta is amazing, as is the pizza. We were unfortunately too full to enjoy the exquisitely crafted desserts. Go here; I promise you won’t regret it. The restaurant also has Wi-Fi, so you can post pictures of your dinner while waiting for the check.
A Roman friend of mine recommended we meet for dinner in Trastevere at La Gattabuia, located at Via del Porto 1. Getting there was a bit of a trek from our flat near the Vatican, but once there we found the intimate outdoor lighting, the clientele—from crowds of older Italian men to young couples—and the lively atmosphere in the restaurant’s interior made La Gattabuia the quintessential Italian restaurant.
Our friend knew the server, as well as most of the staff, and we were treated like queens. The server brought out Prosecco and Rosé followed by the best and creamiest buffalo mozzarella you’ll ever taste in your life. Then came a Parmesan eggplant dish, risotto, Roman beans, and fried cod. By the main course, we were all pretty full, but that didn’t stop me from eating a bit of the rigatoni alla carbonara.
The classic Italian aperitivo is a must-have if you enjoy cheap drinks accompanied by food and excellent company. Akin to the English happy hour, l’aperitivo features tapas-style snacks along with the selection of a drink. It is the perfect way to hold yourself over until dinner (Italian dinner is at around 10 pm!). You can catch the best aperitivo at Freni E Frizioni at Via del Politeama in Trastevere, where the crowd is primarily 21 to 30 years old and the snack portion of the happy hour includes a massive buffet.
Another favorite of mine was outside of the Pantheon, although the restaurant’s name has slipped my memory. However, if you are directly in front of the Pantheon and make a right down the side street you’ll see a restaurant and wine shop that has an inexpensive happy hour and really good sangria.
We also stopped at Anima Mundi after a day at the Roman Forum for its happy hour and made friends with the owner, Stef C. It’s located at Via del Velabro 1, so if you’re ever in the city be sure to stop by Anima Mundi and tell Stef Kristyn from New York sent you!
When in Rome, do as the Romans do: While you’re en route to a museum, fountain, or church, stop for a slice of pizza. The pizza is to die for and comes in a number of variations, such as potato and sausage or ham and cheese. It’s a great way to enjoy one tiny part of the Roman culture while walking around the city.