Selecting a place to dine in Rome is comparable to discovering something to read in a library. Options are so numerous that I jot down names of cafes that I want to check out as I pass them in the street. Italians take their cuisine seriously. The honorable ritual of relaxing over a meal with family and friends plays an important role in Roman life. When the perfect pairing of savory and sweet whether meat, cheese, and fruit or pistachio and Nutella gelato come into play, I am all in!
However choosing the right spot can be daunting in Rome. Bigger, brighter, and bolder signs do not typically bode well for delectable dining. Often the nondescript little café in a quiet alley proves to be my go to place for a delicious Italian meal.
Here are five of my personal favorites so far.
1. Dino and Tony
Recently, I shared a meal with friends at a small, modest restaurant located outside the Vatican. One of the owners brought us course after course of classic Italian dishes to taste. He kept urging us to “mangia, mangia” and we happily obliged. The food was outstanding and it was a memorable occasion. Bring your appetite and prepare to experience authentic Italian cuisine!
Gelato is its own food group in Italy. The number of gelato establishments in Rome rivals our Starbucks shops on every corner in large American cities. Founded in 1890, Giolitti is the real deal when it comes to fresh, creamy, and scrumptious gelato. They offer exquisite pastries as well. The charming workers tend to flirt with the customers and are extremely generous with their portions so best to indulge when hungry!
3. Taverna Trilussa
My roommates have been raving about the ravioli here for weeks. I was finally able to try their award-winning ravioli with secret sauce. No wonder they guard that recipe! We basically licked our plates clean.
Do not let the name fool you! This restaurant in the center of Rome is pure Italian. A bit pricey, but worth it. No host has to cajole passersby to come in for a meal. The serene atmosphere allows the food to steal the show. All of the usual traditional dishes are on the menu, but their versions are unique and flavorful. The duck and apple pairing with homemade pappardelle was so good that I feel obligated to investigate more entrees at a future time.
5. Grano: Frutta e Farina
Near the Spanish Steps, this small shop has captured my attention. Grano offers a wide variety of pizzas that have the appropriate crispy crust and toppings. Pastries, dried fruits, chocolates, teas, and coffees tempt my taste buds every single time I walk in the door. Be sure to check out this adorable little gem!
This represents a sampling of my go to spots in this food-obsessed city. Another recommendation I have is to attempt to make your own Italian dishes. I participated in cooking classes offered by my university in Rome and I hope to wow my family and friends with my culinary delights when I return to Chicago. But until that day arrives, I intend to take full advantage of all that Rome offers in the magnificent meal department. Buon appetito!
Want to read more about Rome? Check out “What Surprised Me Most When I Landed In Rome”