Asking for a good restaurant in Rome is like asking for a good pub in Dublin.
There are so many of them, 15 different people will give you as many answers. When I was a tour guide in Rome, once a month someone would hand me a Microsoft Word document with a list of restaurants their friends had been to and asking me if I recognise any of them. I never did.
There are only two qualifications of eating in Rome; avoid touristy places and eat where the locals eat.
Once you can understand the menu (the menus are in English as well), the prices seems fair, you like the look of the place and you can see Italians eating there, go in. Please bear in mind many restaurants in Italy do not accept credit cards (and most businesses in Europe do not accept American Express) so it's best to have cash as a backup.
Rome's two key food areas are Trastevere and the Jewish Ghetto, both near the Tiber River in the centre of town. If you want specific places to eat in to avoid the possibility of a bad experience, I would recommend the following.
Again, you can literally eat anywhere.
Osteria Zi' Umberto, Piazza San Giovanni della Malva, 14/b, Trastevere, Rome. Tel: +39 (0) 06 581 6646.
Umberto's is the typical Italian restaurant in Trastevere, done properly. Located in a little piazza a stone's throw from the Tiber, this characteristic place is very popular with Romans who have notoriously high standards about where they eat. The fare is a selection of various pasta, meat and other dishes although no pizza. They serve wines and beer and even the bread is good (you can always tell if a restaurant is good if even its bread is well made). This is a popular location and booking ahead on the phone is a good idea (have your hotel reception, tour guide or Italian friend do this for you). You can just show up and hope for the best, but you will be waiting. Prices are cheap by Roman standards (a two course meal with wine for two people costs 60€ in total) and service is ok, in that the waiting staff tend to be busy, but you are definitely not ignored. Closed on Sundays. Cash only.
Taverna Dei Mercanti, Piazza de' Mercanti, 3a, Trastevere, Rome. Tel: +39 (0)6 5881693.
This is probably my favourite restaurant in Rome. The tavern is a medieval manor house replete with wooden beams, torches and views of the adjacent piazza. It has two floors inside, the top floor being the primary restaurant, and a section outside for summer dinning. The cuisine is Roman; steak and meat dishes are a speciality as is pizza, cooked on the in house grill and wood oven. There are no pasta dishes. An average meal is expensive; two courses with wine for two people may run you €100 in total, but the location alone is worth the expense. You really feel as if you are living in the 1600s. The menus come in scroll format which are a keepsake in themselves. Occasionally there are dramatic displays from the building opposite the restaurant on Saturday nights during the summer. I highly recommend this place. Closed on Mondays. Credit Cards Accepted, Not American Express.
Roma Sparita, Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 24, Trastevere, Rome. Tel: +39 (0)6 58363165
Also known as Cacio Pepe due to their speciality dish, this restaurant on the corner of the Church of Saint Ceclia is renowned throughout Rome. Decorated in the style of the 1950s and 60s, with period wallpaper, tables and chairs, you might expect Don Draper to walk in, take his hat off and dig in to plate of pasta. This quaint restaurant is divided in to two rooms and has courtyard for outside dining. Specialities are Tagliolini Cacio e Pepe (spaghetti with pecorino cheese and pepper) among other pastas and Coda alla Vaccinara; a Roman meat stew among other meat dishes. Pizza is not available. This is a popular spot which almost always has a couple waiting at the door hoping for a chance to be seated, so booking ahead is advised. Even Anthony Bourdain paid it a visit in his European Food Tour. Right next door is the beautiful Church of Saint Cecilia which is one of the many ecclesiastical treasures off the beaten track. The church is lit up at night, so if you are there in summer, try and get a seat outside to soak up the view. If pasta is your thing, this is your place. Closed Sunday evenings and all day Monday.
Angelina, Via Galvani, 24/a, Testaccio, Rome. Tel: +39 (0)6 57 28 38 40 Message Service.
This multi-room room restaurant is located in the middle of Testaccio, Rome's central socialising suburb. It used to be an abattoir or slaughterhouse and its decor and menu echo its history. The speciality is steak and meat dishes (the burgers are particularly good) but also has pizza, pasta amongst other Roman fare. Half of the restaurant is open air (with an excellent rooftop terrace) providing a relaxing setting with pleasant views of Testaccio. Angelina is popular and booking ahead is advised. Your receptionist can leave a message on the phone number provided (leaving your name, number of guests, requested start time and cell phone, speak slowly if you are doing this yourself in English) and they will text you a reservation confirmation. If you want to chance showing up and cannot get seated, the neighbouring restaurant is your classic Italian restaurant and is quite good. If staying central is more you, they have another branch near the Trevi Fountain on Via Poli 27, +353 (0)6 67 97 274. If you like meat, this is your place.
La Vecchia Locanda, Vicolo Sinibaldi, 2, Pigna, Rome. Tel: +39 (0)6 688 028 31.
Located on a side street near the Pantheon, the Old Location serves excellent pasta, seafood, cheese and meat dishes. Wine is a big speciality here and the decor reflects that with vintage bottles lining the walls. The restaurant is divided on two floors, with the bottom floor like a renovated cavern. This is cosy romantic place to bring a partner/date. They have an extensive desert menu and, like many Italian restaurants, take particular pride in their tiramisu. If you are in the centre of town and want a very good Italian restaurant, this is your place. Closed Sundays.
My Tour reviews:
Just loved all the info that Dara gave us. Excellent tour and tour guide. Would recommend your tours to our friends visiting Rome. Thanks for your services.
5.0 Stars Brando DeOliveira
Dara did a wonderful job. I wish we would have had him as our tour guide the entire time we were in Rome. He made the tour wonderfully entertaining and very educational. He placed just enough detail in the explanation to teach us but not bore us. He did an outstanding job. Thank you Dara!
5.0 Stars Rebeka Carter
The Most Enjoyable Tour
This was the most enjoyable tour of our entire two week vacation to Italy. Dara was quite knowledgeable and interjected fun facts and humor which made it even more engaging for our children - ages 20, 17 & 15. He was always respectful of the faith and reminded us of the rules, other tour guides must not have been as informative.
5.0 Stars Mike Howard
Dara was Fantastic!
Dara was fantastic! Not only very informative but funny as well. He kept the group together well, he frequently asked if everyone was okay and we stopped for toilet breaks. The tour was so interesting and well paced. It was also great that Dara was able to talk and walk at the same time unlike the guide the following day!
5.0 Stars Natasha Thomas
Helpful and Informative
Dara was very helpful and informative. He knew each room and detail and I am glad that he was our tour guide. He had a nice personality and I was amazed with his ability to keep counting our group to make sure all were together before we moved forward. I have already recommended your tour to other people as I traveled in other parts of Italy.
5.0 Stars Audrey Ferrante
Dara was Very Funny
Dara was very funny and gave great information. Truly enjoyed this!
5.0 Stars Susan Kiner
Dara's Tour was Fantastic.
Dara's tour was fantastic. He made 2000 years of history much more fun than expected. I would certainly take his tour again when I next visit Rome. I learned so much and had a great time. Thanks!
5.0 Stars Melinda
Highlights of My Trip
Most professional tour that I had on Rome. One of the highlights of my trip. Thank you!
5.0 Stars Marti Panikkar
Perfect Balance of Wit and Knowledge
He was the perfect balance of wit and knowledge - was amazed at the depth of his knowledge and he has ability to communicate the facts in an interesting manner - also gave us a good selection of the things worth seeing - I have recommended the tour on our expedia review of Rome
5.0 Stars David Garwood
Dara was Great
Dara was great. We had to leave the tour early because our ship changed the departure time from the port city - move it up 1 hour. Dara gave us great directions on where to go to see what we wanted to see since we couldn't stay with the tour. He also was very informative while the hour or so we were with the tour.
5.0 Stars Jerry Parche
|Piazza del Popolo|
|Santa Maria del Popolo|
|The Spanish Steps|
|Fountain of Moses|
|Campo de' Fiori|
|Jewish Ghetto Rome|