No morning coffee ritual in the world compares to the way Italians do it. Walk into any espresso bar or pasticceria and order at the counter, standing along the morning commuters. The experience is enlightening, stabilizing and soulful. Almost every morning while in Rome, when my Friend GiGi (GiGi Eats Celebrities) and I were visiting, I walked down the street to Pasticceria Natalizi to get a pastry and cappuccino. The best cappuccino. I like a frothy foam floating above my espresso, not condensed the way most cappuccino’s or lattes are served in the states.
Rome’s culinary experiences expand far beyond cappuccinos and bombolini obviously. Pretty much anywhere you eat in Rome is going to be better than most “great” restaurants you’re used to in the states. This list is certainly not the end all be all of dining in Rome…these just happen to be the places I went to and thought were worthy of mention!
Roscioli Ristorante Salumeria
My lunch at Roscioli goes down as one of the best dining experiences of my life. After being recommended by several chefs I knew and Mario Battali in Food & Wine magazine, I was not leaving Rome without a meal here. Down a narrow street mixed with shops and bakeries you will find Roscioli, which is a market/restaurant. Dining tables are nestled along shelves of wine and glass cases of meats and cheese. An ideal dining setting in my opinion! Reservations are mandatory, this place is in high demand, FYI.
I knew pasta was happening then I let myself wander the menu for other delicacies. Marinated Artichokes, Meatballs and Cacio e Pepe it was. The artichokes were just right. The meatballs were served artfully, three on the plate with expertly placed shaved cheese. They tasted like a recipe Caesar might have enjoyed — a little spicy, and very rich.
The Cacio e Pepe is a must. This is a classic Roman dish of spaghetti noodles, cheese and pepper. Very simple, very delicious. These noodles were so fresh, I knew they had been made very recently and were never sitting dry in a bag.
The way Roscioli will make you feel as a diner is inexplicable.
Address: Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 687 5287
Gran Caffe Martini e Rossi
True it draws a tourist crowd, but if you’re famished before or after a tour of the Collesium, you might want to satiate yourself with a nice serving of Bruschetta and Pasta Carbonara at Caffe Martini. The cafe sits directly across the street from the Collesium, so I recommend dining outside to take advantage of the view. I’m a nerd, but I think it’s pretty cool to dine right next to a historical monument!
The brushchetta is made with the reddest tomatoes. The quality of produce in Italy is undeniable. You will find this nearly anywhere you dine. I wished I could have taken home 10 pounds of tomatoes with me.
The carbonara is served in a pristine white shallow dish sprinkled with colorful dried flower petals. Seems a little out of the ordinary for a savory dish, but is quite lovely to look down on. The first bite will drench you in glee. The creaminess of the yolky, cheesy sauce feels luxurious on the tongue. The diced and blended ropes of pancetta add a lovely burst of salt. Yes, this is a heavy pasta, but so worth the extra weight.
Address: Piazza del Colosseo, 3, 00184 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 700 4431
As mentioned earlier, I developed a quick attachment to this place. It was about 2 blocks away from the hotel in a quiet but trendy neighborhood. I strolled to it every morning to stand with the true Romans to get a cappuccino and pastry. It is inspiring how seriously the Italians take their espresso. No one is in a rush, the ritual is respected. You sip until you’re finished and pay when you’re done. Makes sense doesn’t it?
The pastry case had an array of Italian specialties. My favorite, custard-filled, sugar glazed, bombolini (aka donuts). You melt into that first bite, sinking into the soft airy, buttery dough — it nearly takes your breath away! Then the creamy custard spills and you catch it with your tongue. It’s an experience that will start your day at its very best. I’m sure you could order anything from this case and it would be pretty amazing.
Address: Via Po, 124-126, 00100 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 854 6213
The ultimate authentic fast food in Rome are the many pizzerias which usually consist of a narrow room with standing room only. You order your slices and you go. The assortment changes daily, but the flavor combos are incredible.
Very hungry for a snack, I ordered a slice with prosciutto, pine nuts, garlic and roasted tomatoes. Yes, it was cheese-less pizza and I had no complaints. The crust was similar to a focaccia and supported all of those fresh, delicious toppings perfectly.
Address: Via Salaria, 70, 00198 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 6478 1660
If you need to pick up a dessert, gelato, espresso or sandwich this adorable Pasticceria will take good care of you. Their pastries and cakes are probably the most impressive to the eye. They are colorful and glossy, like sculptures! You could try to take one home on the plane, but probably best to devour it while you’re there!
Address: Viale Regina Margherita, 95, 00198 Roma, Italy
Phone: +39 06 841 2220