Mini guide to eating out in Rome
A shop in Rome sells pizza by the slice. (Stuart McCall/Getty)
A visit to the Eternal City is as much about food as it is about art history. There is no better way to feel like a Roman than by eating and drinking well at the city’s many trattorias, pizzerias, ristorantes and gelaterias.
The Camerucci family runs the Trattoria Monti, offering top-notch cooking from the Marche region. Expect delicate pastas including egg-yolk tortelli and ingredients such as pecorino di fossa (sheep’s cheese aged in caves), goose, swordfish, sultanas, mushrooms and truffles (00 39 06 446 65 73; Via di San Vito 13a; closed Sun eve & Mon, and Aug; mains from £12).
At this simple spot north of the Vatican City, Toni stirs the pots while Dino delivers the songs, punchlines and mammoth portions of Roman soul food. Dino and Toni is famous for its pasta alla gricia (pasta with cured pork and cheese), if you get past the mighty antipasti. Belt loosened, you might be able to finish with the signature granita di caffè (coffee with crushed ice). Note: it is cash only here (00 39 06 397 33 284; Via Leone IV 60; closed Mon and Aug; mains from £14).
A family-run trattoria in business since 1961, Armando’s is an inviting institution within sight of the Pantheon. Constantly busy, it’s fed the likes of philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre and footballer Pelé. It specialises in classic Roman food, including baccalà alla pizzaiola (salt cod with tomatoes), and ravioli with black truffle. Try the homemade cakes as well (Salita dei Crescenzi 31; closed Sat eve, Sun and Aug; mains from £12).
On the go
Pizzarium is a small place in a nondescript part of town and is a firm contender for Rome’s best pizza al taglio – pizza by the slice. Superbly fluffy bases and crisp crusts are topped with seasonal ingredients, such as beetroot and spinach, onion and rosemary, and ricotta and green beans. Eat standing up, and wash it down with a chilled beer (00 39 06 397 45 416; Via della Meloria 43; pizza slices from £2).
Two streets away from the Trevi Fountain, you’ll find a truly world-beating gelateria (ice-cream parlour) called Il Gelato Di San Crispino. Flavours are seasonal, all-natural and sensational – it’ll be a long time before you forget the piquant fig or zesty ginger and cinnamon, which are so good that you can forgive the stingy size of the portions (Via della Panetteria 42; two scoops for £2.30).
Around the corner from the Spanish Steps, Gina has comfy white seats strewn with powder-blue cushions, and at busier times it fills with a Prada-clad crowd. Pick up a picnic hamper for two, complete with fresh sandwiches, fruit salad, signature desserts, a bottle of wine and a flask of Italian coffee, for lunch alfresco in nearby Villa Borghese gardens (Via di San Sebastianello 7a; picnic hampers from £30).
Set at the back of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Open Colonna sits beneath a sweeping glass roof. The cuisine is new Roman, with innovative takes on traditional dishes, including ‘carbonara inside out’. There’s a more basic fixed lunch menu too (Scalinata di via Milano 9a; closed Sun eve, Mon, and Aug; two-course lunches £13, dinner mains from £22).
In the quaint Trastevere district, the Modernist-styled white walls, clean lines and stainless steel lighting of Glass Hostaria really stand out. And it’s about content as well as style. The wine list and creative Italian cuisine are impressive, including dishes such as sangria-marinated beef with smoked watermelon (Vicolo del Cinque 58; closed Mon; mains from £17).
Hidden away in a 16th-century palazzo in the historic centre is Il Convivio Troiani. This Michelin-starred gastronomic heavyweight – with modest yet elegant Art Deco style – offers Roman-with-a-twist dishes such as zucchini flowers with buffalo mozzarella and sweet-and-sour red pepper sorbet. Early booking is pretty much essential here (Vicolo dei Soldati 31; mains from £22).