Rome

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For decades (centuries, some would say) the Roman restaurant scene remained static, stuck in a time and space best summed up by a singing owner and red-and-white-checked tablecloths. But the 21st-century dining scene has turned out to be far more mutable. Sure, the traditional restaurants are still around (and many are worth going to), but Romans (and their visitors) can now indulge in modern takes on local cooking, as well as adventures in regional and international gastronomy.

Top Restaurants in Rome

Antico Arco

Antico Arco, run by a trio of friends, is an essential stop on the city's Janiculum hill for its inventive dishes like onion-and-taleggio-cheese flan and risotto with scorpion fish. One of Rome's trendiest eating spots, the restaurant features new variations on classic Italian themes, and in a beautiful setting, a mix of rustic and modern. Reservations recommended. Co-owner Patrizia Mattei can also turn you on to her favorite hidden restaurants.

Piazzale Aurelio 7, 011-39-06-581-5274, www.anticoarco.it
Tags: expensive | italian

Checchino dal 1887

At the meat-centric Checchino dal 1887, housed in a historic building in a working-class neighborhood, make sure to sample the classic winter dish of wild boar with prunes. In warm weather, take advantage of outdoor seating in the courtyard, but note the restaurant is closed in August.

Via di Monte Testaccio 30, 011-39-06-574-3816, www.checchino-dal-1887.com
Tags: italian

Da Vittorio

More than a pizzeria, this eatery prepares pasta and meat dishes that hold their own with more formal and higher-priced restaurants. This area of Trastevere is exuberant and the atmosphere can be equally so. Kids will love their heart-shaped pizzas; adults will love their stuffed zucchini flowers, pasta carbonara, and amatriciana, as well as the prices.

Via di San Cosimato, 14A, 011-39-06-580-0353
Tags: budget | pizza

Felice a Testaccio

Felice a Testaccio is a neighborhood fixture with classic Roman dishes. In keeping with tradition, the restaurant’s extensive menu features different dishes each day, such as cotolette d’abbachio panate con zucchini fritte (lamb cutlets with fried zucchini) or bollito misto (mixed meat stew). This is not light summery fare so bring a good appetite.  

Via Mastro Giorgio 29, 011-39-06-574-6800, www.feliceatestaccio.com
Tags: italian | local favorite

Giolitti

Everyone has their favorite gelateria, but for great tastes in an elegant atmosphere, it’s hard to beat Giolitti. A second location at Viale Oceania 90, Casina dei Tre Laghi, has the same luscious temptations. Michelle Obama is one of many celebrities who have succumbed to the shop’s creations (even healthy eaters deserve a treat sometime!).

Via Uffici del Vicario 40, 011-39-06-699-1243, www.giolitti.it
Tags: budget | local favorite | dessert | editor pick

La Pergola

For a blowout meal, make a reservation at La Pergola, the only three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Rome, housed at the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria hotel. Chef Heinz Beck has guided the kitchen since 1994 and has many an international award attesting to his skill with nouveau Italian dishes, classic French recipes, and just about anything you might request. The encyclopedic wine list will meet your desire, as long as you don’t have to worry about costs. The nine-course gourmet menu is close to $300 without beverages. Closed in August and January.

Via Alberto Cadlolo 101, 011-39-06-35091, www.romecavalieri.com/lapergola.php
Tags: smart splurge | italian | notable wine list | hotel restaurant

Maccheroni

Up the street from the Pantheon, in a former butcher’s shop, this trattoria serves classic Roman pasta and meat dishes. Tiled floors, arched ceilings, brick accents, and a kitchen in full view of the dining room add to the convivial atmosphere. You can’t go wrong here, unless you try to get in without a reservation.

Piazza delle Coppelle 44, 011-39-06-6830-7895, www.ristorantemaccheroni.com
Tags: moderate | great value | editor pick

Necci dal 1924

The café Necci dal 1924 focuses on traditional-style, organic dishes, as much as possible based on local ingredients. In 1958, a noted film by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Accatone, was in part set here and the destinies of cinema and café entwined. Recipes intermingle classic Roman dishes with flights of fancy, such as five-spice duck breast with caramelized red onions, pureed potatoes, and red cabbage. There is also a shop where you can purchase some of the ingredients you’ve sampled at your meal.

Via Fanfulla da Lodi 68, 011-39-06-9760-1552, www.necci1924.com
Tags: italian

Obika

Don’t let the Japanese-sounding name and sleek sushi-restaurant décor fool you. This is all Italian, all mozzarella-inspired dishes, all the time. Go for the mozzarella di bufala in one of several iterations. Obika is a chain of 17 restaurants, including an outpost at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport, so if you need a mozza-fix before catching your international flight, you’ve got it.

Via dei Prefetti 26a, 011-39-06-683-2630, www.obika.it
Tags: moderate | trendy | italian

Paris

Amid the tourist traps of Trastevere, this pricey but classic restaurant has been serving classic Roman dishes since 1980. The “Paris” of the name refers only to the founder, Dario Paris; the kitchen is rigorously Italian in its offerings, such as deep-fried zucchini flowers with sardines, carbonara, and trippa alla romana. Call ahead to reserve at table.

Piazza San Calisto 7A, 011-39-06-581-5378, www.ristoranteparis.com
Tags: historic | expensive | seafood | italian

Pigneto Quaratuno

Pigneto Quarantuno is a cozy space that features wine from 15 regions of Italy and a small, focused menu for snacks and light meals. Some items are creative revisitations of Roman standards, such as artichokes stuffed with baccalà, finocchi alla diavola (devilish chard), and crème brulée with star anise.

Via del Pigneto 41/43, 011-39-06-7039-9843, www.pignetoquarantuno.it
Tags: trendy | italian

Piperno

An elegant, out-of-the-way restaurant appropriate for date night or “meet the folks,” with classic Italian fare such as fresh pasta prepared in their kitchen:  tagliolini, fettucine, ravioli, and agnolotti. Main dishes include fillets of baccalà and standards such as carciofi alla giudia (artichokes Jewish-style) and coda alla vaccinara (beef tails). Definitely reserve ahead of time.

Via Monte de’ Cenci 9, 011-39-06-6880-6629, www.ristorantepiperno.com
Tags: smart splurge | expensive | editor pick

Sant'Eustachio Café

You can find great coffee anywhere in town, but one legendary spot merits special attention: Sant’Eustachio Café, where you may have to fight your way through mobs of Italian caffeine fans to get to the marble counter. You can eat your coffee, too, in a number of chocolate forms. All coffee comes from sustainable, fair trade growers in six countries. 

Piazza Sant’Eustachio 82, 011-39-06-6880-2048, www.santeustachioilcaffe.it
Tags: budget | cafe | local favorite

Sora Margherita

A Roman institution, right in the middle of the Jewish ghetto, this is the place to go for amazing meatballs and homemade pasta. Classic dishes include carciofi alla giudia (deep-fried artichoke) and fettuccine cacio e pepe (cacio is a pecorino from the Lazio region). Look for the daisy above the non-descript door. The menu is handwritten and you have to fill in a form and become a member of the "association" to eat here, particularly on weekends.

Piazza delle Cinque Scole 30, 011-39-06-687-4216
Tags: budget | great value | italian

Trattoria Monti

Trattoria Monti is owned by two brothers from Le Marche who serve sophisticated dishes produced by their mother. Their changing array of egg “flans” elicits raves from regulars, so make sure you have the chance to choose from the daily specials and not just the translated formal menu. The latter is not without interest, though, as it combines Roman and Marchegiano specialties. If you are interested, you can watch Mom cook in the open-view kitchen. 

Via di San Vito 13A, 011-39-06-446-6573
Tags: italian

Tuna

Tuna, off the Via Veneto, is a recent addition to the local restaurant scene, opened in 2008 and helmed by chef Francesco de Maria, who made his Naples fish restaurant an institution. Here, seafood takes the spotlight, including calamari, clawed lobster, and sea urchins. House versions of lemon or green apple sorbetto are a perfect ending to lunch or dinner.

Via Veneto 11, 011-39-06-4201-6531, www.tunaroma.it
Tags: smart splurge | seafood

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