People say that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”…this includes the city’s reputation for epicurean delights. The best eateries in Rome have one thing in common: they have decades of experience and rigorously preserve ancestral recipes – it’s like eating a bit of history. Check out these seven superb restaurant recommendations in Rome.
Trattoria “La Sora Lella”
Founded in 1959 from Elena Fabrizi, better known as the “Sora Lella”, this restaurant is probably the one that every Roman could mention if you ask for a good pasta plate or any type of Roman cuisine. Prior to opening the restaurant, Sora Lella made her fortune in the film industry where she played the role of herself. She was discovered by Roman actors who were drawn to her personality and immediately cast her.
Despite its notoriety, the restaurant has never changed locations and you can still find it situated in the Tiberina Island in the heart of the Roman neighborhood “Trastevere”. If you are new to Italian cuisine, the experience in this restaurant is the best way to begin your culinary journey. The menu offers a plethora of plates and, yes, they all look delicious. If you are thinking about a good pasta plate, there you might find something a bit less traditional such as the potato gnocchi pasta dressed with amatriciana sauce. If this is not enough, try the tonnarelli pasta dressed with a sauce made with sausages, bacon, eggs and a secret ingredient that the restaurant has never revealed.
Located near the Trevi Fountain, this restaurant opened for the first time 103 years ago, in 1916. Since then, every member of the family has respected and preserved the family traditions. The members currently in charge are Donato and his son Gerry. Notorious customers have dined here before, such as the Italian former president Sandro Pertini, the Italian poet Trilussa and even the French author Jean-Paul Sartre.
As in every restaurant in Rome, picking something from the menu might be difficult. The restaurant offers not only an enormous selection of pasta and meat, but also an excellent selection of fresh fish dishes. If you want to stick to tradition, the restaurant offers a great selection of traditional plates, from carbonara to saltimbocca alla romana, calf meat served with Parma ham and aromatic herbs. We also recommend choosing from the great selection of grilled meats and fish, such as the famous Roman baccalà dressed with Tropea onions and Sicilian cherry tomatoes.
Trattoria Da Enzo al 29
Located in the very heart of Rome, this trattoria sticks to tradition the most, not only in terms of food, but also in terms of manners, warmness, and style. The original owner, or “oste” as you might say in Italian, was Enzo who passed away in the 80s; his legacy remains intact by those who’ve acquired the place after his death and that work every day to honor his memory.
The menu offers some of the most authentic and traditional dishes than menus presented by other Roman restaurants. At Enzo’s, the kitchen follows the weekly calendar, fashioning a particular dish for every day of the week (on Thursday, for example, it’s always gnocchi day in Rome). Their philosophy is mostly based on the realization of ancient recipes executed by using the best products that the farms around Rome can offer each day. Enzo only takes dinner reservations.
Parts of the Roman cuisine are deeply connected and influenced by Jewish cuisine. In Trastevere, you’ll discover a quaint Jewish neighborhood with plenty of restaurants that respect the kosher tradition.
One standout restaurant is Al Pompiere, or in English, the Fireman. The name comes from former customers of the restaurant – the very spicy arrabbiata pasta that the first owner used to serve was so spicy that it was necessary to call the firemen! Opened in 1962, Al Pompiere is inside the former mansion of a noble Roman woman, Beatrice Cenci. On the walls, people can admire the colorful and spectacular frescos from the 16th century. Once there, it’s impossible not to try the Jewish recipe for artichokes, a classic of the Roman cuisine, not to mention the baccalà fish and fried pumpkin flowers.
Placed in the iconic Piazza delle Cinque Scole in the middle of Trastevere, Sora Margherita is another lovely and historical Roman restaurant. This tiny restaurant has only 20 tables and has remained the same since the very first opening. From the outside it still looks like an ancient Roman trattoria as the family has chosen to keep everything original.
At Sora Margherita you will find a full menu of hand-made dishes. From hand-made meatballs to hand-made pasta, everything is prepared using organic ingredients, classic elements from the Roman countryside, and seasonal products. A selection of kosher recipes is mixed with Roman tradition and shows how these two cultures are now deeply connected.
Previously named “Da Cesaretto”, Fiaschetteria Beltramme’s new owner changed its name in the late 90s. This Roman Osteria has said ‘no’ to modernity… you won’t be able to use a credit card so bring cash with you.
There’s no menu either. Diners eat what the kitchen has to offer. This way, the restaurants always serve the freshest products that the market offers. In any case, you won’t be disappointed; everything is delicious and sticks to traditional recipes. Visit Fiaschetteria Beltramme in via della Croce 39 if you really want to live a real Osteria experience.
Sean Finelli is CEO at The Tour Guy. The Tour Guy and its suite of brands, The Roman Guy and Finelli & Shaw, offer globetrotters uniquely curated experiences across Europe.