forno-rome

“A thing of beauty is a joy forever” wrote Keats. While he may not have been referring to the Eternal City, his words are certainly applicable to it. Keats is, in fact, buried in Rome in what is possibly the most stunning cemetery known to man. Tucked away in a sloping walled garden, the Cimitero Acattolico itself is a place of beauty, filled with mature trees, jasmine, wisteria and roses – a worthy pitstop where you can contemplate the city’s many delights.

Of all destinations, Rome is one to visit armed with a culinary guide. A maze of simultaneous chaos and charm, the city of seven hills’ history is reflected as much in the family-run trattorias as it is in world-famous architecture.

A new wave of restaurants has emerged of late and there’s a palpable excitement among young chefs, tastemakers and diners. It’s particularly refreshing to note the increasing presence of female chefs in big kitchens as, despite the worship of “nonna” and her centuries-old recipe secrets, professional cooking is a sphere largely dominated by men. Like archaeologists excavating Rome’s hidden gems, we’ve uncovered the best delis, markets, bars and restaurants in town, from the traditional to the trailblazing.

Retrobottega

Classifying itself as a “laboratorio gastronomico” with a strict zero-waste policy, Retrobottega is at the forefront of the surge in creative cooking in the city. The team are engaging, innovative and passionate and dishes are executed with meticulous attention to detail – the veal carpaccio being a case in point. Request a seat at the counter for the best view of all the action.

Pianostrada

This time a “laboratorio di cucina”, Pianostrada is run by four impossibly glamorous Italian women, one of whom whips up pasta dishes wearing towering heels and bright-red lipstick. The open-kitchen trend has taken hold in Rome and sitting at the bar is both sociable and instructive – watch the chefs at work to pick up some techniques to take home. The food at is carefully considered, artfully presented and above all, delicious.

  • +39 068 957 2296
  • Via delle Zoccolette 22
    00186

Roscioli

A visit to Roscioli is essential on any Roman holiday. Comprising of a bakery, coffee shop, delicatessen and restaurant all within walking distance of each other, it’s here that can pick up some premium Italian produce. Classics such as “cacio e pepe” (pasta, cheese, pepper) are created using game-changing quality ingredients – this is simple Italian food of the highest level.

Emma

Emma is the place for pizza. Another outpost for the Roscioli family, the pizzeria is centrally located and extremely popular among both locals and tourists. It’s worth making a booking as the waiting list gets long and most are willing stick it out to get in. Thin-crust pizzas are a vehicle to showcase signature Roscioli ingredients and come adorned with artisan Italian cheeses, fresh herbs and cured meats, all sliced to order.

Buff

Buff can boast that a staggering 97% of their produce comes directly from their organic farm in Calabria in southern Italy. The floor staff are totally on board with the seasonal ethos and spoil guests with tasters of the latest arrivals from the farm; fresh goji berries, mini wild artichokes, marinated caper stems, and so on. Even the risotto uses their homegrown rice.

Litro

Located near to Trastevere in the less touristy Monteverde, Litro has a buzzy, neighbourhood feel to it. Delicious small plates emerge from the kitchen at speed, but there is no rush. A wall covered in clocks showing different times nods to this laid-back pace – stop for a quick bite or while away a hazy evening. The availability of natural and biodynamic wines in Rome is noticeable and Litro has a fantastic selection – a bottle of natural prosecco makes the perfect an aperitif. Their sister restaurant, Caffé Propaganda, is just across the river near the Colosseum and is also worth checking out.

Mercato Centrale

After successfully reviving a market space in Florence, the Mercato Centrale opened up at Rome’s Termini station in 2016. The venture brings together food makers from around town to showcase the region’s bountiful produce. One stand is devoted entirely to artichokes – ask for your “carciofo” three ways then head directly to the stand opposite where the wine merchants will relish the opportunity to select the perfect “il vino al bicchiere” (wine by the glass) pairing. Italy’s best-known wine producers make a point of stopping by when they’re in town, so this really is something quite special.

Bar del Fico

If there’s one place to sip Campari like a local, it’s Bar del Fico. Watch the world go by, soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the buzz on the terrace where regulars opt for chess tables and sit engrossed in games with admirable focus. Complimentary fresh flatbreads to accompany your aperitif are sliced up and shared among the tables, but should you require more substantial replenishment make your way inside where Roman staples are served with aplomb.

Urbana 47

In the colourful Monti quarter on a narrow street filled with independent boutiques, cafés and bookshops, Urbana 47 is another restaurant committed to promoting organic produce. Industrial décor and open kitchens, the pared-back interior is in-keeping with the approach to food as simple dishes let the ingredients speak for themselves.

Mercato Testaccio

Testaccio is a former working-class area which has been rapidly gentrifying in recent years. The beloved local market has also had a makeover but hasn’t lost it’s authenticity. Romans come in droves to select fresh produce from the abundant, over-flowing stalls – the sandwich stand is a major hit with a constant queue of loyal customers. Life happens in this market so blend in and eat your way around. The pizza with fried romanesco from Casa Manco is a triumph.

Volpetti

Volpetti is everything you could want from an old-school Italian delicatessen. Masters in specialty food, proprietors stand in white coats and happily share their wisdom with customers, offering out morsels and explaining the provenance of products. The pastry counter is a particular wonder, filled with colourful creations which will help work up your appetite for Taverna Volpetti, just around the corner. Pencil in your preferences on the menu which acts like a docket, then tuck into a selection of charcuterie and cheeses made all the more delicious thanks to your newfound knowledge.

Pigneto

Far from the tourist drag, get the metro to Pigneto and go exploring. There’s an abundance of restaurants to choose from in this buzzy enclave; go alfresco at Cucina Rosti where the atmosphere is electric thanks to large groups sitting at long trestle tables lit by fairy lights until late, while other favourites include Pigneto Quarantuno and Primo al PignetoBar Necci is a local institution set on a backstreet among houses with its own courtyard. The journey is more than worth it for for those looking to get beneath the surface of the city.

  • Via del Pigneto

Retrobottega

Litro

Roscioli

Urbana 47

Mercato Testaccio

Volpetti

Bar del Fico

Mercato Centrale

Buff

Emma

Pianostrada

Pigneto

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