I spent the Winter of 2019 in Rome leading a study abroad program. Hours outside of work I ate consistently.
I provide you a listicle based on these dedicated hours, literally painful at times, but also pleasurable. In general, in most cities I visit, I like a combination of places that has an inviting atmosphere with good food + established spots where atmosphere is comfortable but not notable but the food is outstanding + places where you get a quick but extraordinary version of street (not fast) food.
Some words of wisdom about eating in Rome: Eating pasta for lunch is a wiser idea than for dinner (although both happens). Reservations is a must in most places. Alici is much more delicious than anchovies. Sunday lunch is the social eating hour for locals.
- Da Cesare at Casaletto: This was a recommendation of Katie Parla‘s, the food person/writer of Rome for the English speaking audiences. Nestled in an unassuming neighborhood, far away from the tourists, is the Roman eating experience including amazing classic pasta dishes, pizza (only during dinner), and offal courses (which are my favorite). The atmosphere is relaxed. I ordered alla gricia (cacio pepe + pork cheeks) It was silky, creamy and amazing the first time, the amatriciana the second time, and a bite of my husband’s pizza. We went back twice. Reservations is a must. Suppli to start is required as they are perfectly fried without any of clues of the hot oil they parted ways with.
- Antica Forno Roscioli: Roscioli is an institution. This place is where we had lunch. Options to eat: (1) quick Roman style sliced pizza to grab and go, or eat at the very few counters around (2) hot food options of freshly prepared dishes including new items everyday, featuring both meat and vegetable dishes (3) luscious sweet baked goods that will give a quick sugar high and deep carb low (but all worth it~!)
- Pianostrada: We walked by this place and we had to eat there. Welcoming atmosphere reminded me of new restaurants in Seattle, plants everywhere – with dim lighting, and as my husband called it simple but “I am expensive” looking porcelains – the menu is nice escape from the classic Roman cuisine. They have a selection of inventive street foods and sandwiches (pricey but worth it). For instance the sandwich of smoked swordfish with puntarelle was one of the best bites I had this time in Rome.
- Trapizzino: Roman invention of these pizza corner sandwiches have many varieties. My favorite is the tongue and green sauce one. There are many around town – I am linking to one in a prime location (Trastevere) with a bar attached to maximize the experience.
- MonteCarlo: This place reminds me of an old school spot you would find in Istanbul. It is cheesy, it is a mix of tourists and regulars but I really enjoyed both for the atmosphere and the pizza going to MonteCarlo for a quick bite or to entertain guests.
Because I wanted to create a listicle and pick a few musts I did not include a discussion of some other favorites including: Pizzeria Emma (for pizzas in a classy setting with high quality ingredients), Santo Palato (for living up the hype – as it is every food writer’s favorite, and the cool relaxed atmosphere and the amazing liver I had there + woman owned!), Necci dal 1924 (for the amazing garden and space outside of Roman walls in pigneto and fresh food options), Forno in Campo de’ Fiori (for the wide variety of sandwiches + suppli which was our lunch most days).