For all that can be said about Rome these days, one thing is certain: its drinking and dining scene is thriving. New gourmet restaurants, natural wine bars and contemporary pizzerias seem to pop up daily in the Eternal City – each with its own spin on culinary tradition and mid-century modern design.
Here, we’ve rounded up the 20 best restaurants to try in Rome in 2020 (listed in alphabetical order). And if you’re looking for even more ideas, check out the 19 restaurants featured on last year’s list.
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Sleek and sophisticated, with dim lighting and dark, wood-paneled walls, the Michelin-starred All’Oro serves as the perfect canvas for a creative, gourmet meal. Riccardo Di Giacinto, an avant-garde chef with a talent for creating immersive dining experiences, uses fanciful props like kitchen whisks, a table mirror and children’s carousel to add a touch of magic to his flavor-packed dishes. For an unexpected treat, try “All’erbiv’Oro”, a vegan tasting menu that highlights his knack for innovation. The banana wontons, served with caramelized popcorn and coconut cream, are one of the city’s most intriguing desserts.
2. Antica Fonderia
When Alba Esteve Ruiz left her position as head chef at Marzapane in 2018, inquiring minds wanted to know where the talented Spanish chef would end up next. The answer is Antica Fonderia, a refined restaurant on Via del Pellegrino that offers her signature dishes grilled, smoked and sizzled over an open fire. Every ingredient is tinged by the flames, from lamb and lobster to vegetables like bok choy, paying homage to ancient cooking methods and adding a depth of flavor. Don’t miss ordering one of Alba’s classic, risotto with Cantabrian anchovies and candied ginger – also available on a tasting menu.
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3. Café Colbert
Home to magnificent palazzi and urban villas, Rome is unique in its ability to offer a cultural backdrop to many of its culinary experiences and Café Colbert may be one of the best examples. Set within the 17th century Villa Medici, the seat of the French Academy in Rome (located above the Spanish Steps), Colbert is a laidback café with enviable views of the city’s rooftops and dining rooms lined with statues. Stop by for a hearty salad or gourmet sandwich at lunch – or enjoy a glass of wine outside in the charming lemon garden. Café Colbert is open until 6:30pm.
4. Chorus Café
One of Rome’s best-kept secrets, Chorus Café is a glitzy cocktail bar, lounge and restaurant on the first floor of the Auditorium della Conciliazione, a concert hall inaugurated by Pope Pius XII in 1950. Steps from the Vatican, with opulent marble features, it’s a uniquely Roman haunt that draws out characters you’d see in “La Grande Bellezza” movie: locals gather here for craft cocktails or dinner before the DJ set picks up and the venue turns into a glamorous nightclub.
Enviably central with tasteful décor and a handful of outdoor tables during the summer months, Clotilde is a chic restaurant that champions local, seasonal dishes and the Slow Food movement. The menu proposes a spin on country cooking and turns rustic recipes from Lazio’s southern Ciociaria region into refined dishes. Look out for inventive combinations like beef cannelloni with a pecorino fondue and black truffles, or lavender panna cotta pudding with persimmon syrup and chestnuts.
6. Enoteca La Torre a Villa Laetitia
Located inside Villa Laetita, an elegant turn-of-the-century residence in the Prati neighborhood, Enoteca La Torre is arguably Rome’s most beautiful restaurant. The dining room features ceiling-to-floor art deco windows that illuminate intricate stuccos and each dish is a feast for the eyes – and palate. Helmed by Domenico Stile, one of Rome’s youngest Michelin-starred chefs, the restaurant fuses flavors from his native Campania with touches of umami, bitter vegetables or fruit for creative combinations. Try sole fish with artichokes, apple and Cynar liquor or “saltimbocca” veal with chicory, licorice and Chablis.
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7. Idylio by Apreda
After leaving his prestigious position at the Hotel Hassler’s Imàgo restaurant last year, chef Francesco Apreda has set new roots at Idylio inside the Pantheon Iconic Hotel. The Neapolitan chef takes inspiration from his time spent in India and Japan to create tasting menus that express his mastery of aromas and technical skills in the kitchen. Apreda infuses his dishes with algae or dashi, creating intricate and subtle flavors that have won his new restaurant its first Michelin star. The zesty angel hair pasta with garlic, oil, chili flakes and smoked eel is one of the chef’s classics.
In the past few years, Rome has seen a revival in quinto quarto, the city’s offal tradition, and Jacopa fits squarely within this trend. A contemporary restaurant that stands out from the historic trattorias of Trastevere, Jacopa will delight adventurous palates with its modern approach to sweet breads, snails and rabbit – though you can also find creative interpretations of classics like roasted pork with potatoes and sprouts, or tender beef with shallots and cauliflower. The wine list features an interesting selection of natural and biodynamic labels.
9. La Regola
La Regola, an old-school trattoria that reopened last year under new ownership, serves up traditional Roman dishes with a contemporary twist. Located in a sleepy piazza minutes from Campo de’ Fiori, La Regola is a great place to enjoy homemade pastas and local wines in the heart of Rome. Appetizers include a fried egg with pecorino cream and truffle pearls or julienned squid with mango mayonnaise, and the pastas cover Roman classics and include creative options like ravioli with thyme and vin brulé caramelized onions.
10. Magazzino Scipioni
Steps from the Vatican Museums but spared its heavy foot traffic, Magazzino Scipioni is one of the best places to enjoy wine in the city. An enoteca, bottle shop and restaurant set within an old warehouse, the industrial space is lined with hundreds of bottles from around the world. You can enjoy a tasting flight, order wines by the glass or pick a bottle off the wall (with no corking fee) to pair with Italian charcuterie, French cheeses or creative pastas. Magazzino Scipioni is open from lunch till late so it’s a nice place to unwind after touring the Vatican, or after dinner for a taste of dessert wines, too.
11. Per Me
Tucked along a quiet street in the center of Rome, Per Me is a boutique Michelin-starred restaurant that is curated but relaxed – Giulio Terrinoni, the chef himself, pops out of his open-view kitchen to greet his guests throughout the meal. The restaurant is an excellent choice for fish and seafood lovers, with cuttlefish tagliatelle, sea-bream carpaccio and scorpion fish on the menu. Terrinoni can also create succulent plant-based dishes if you call ahead. On weekdays, stop by for a taste of gourmet “tappi” (tapas) at lunch featuring prawn sandwiches, cacio e pepe spaghetti with anchovies and orange powder, or tortellini with fennel cream.
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Widely considered Rome’s most consummate host, Alessandro Pipero is a household name among the city’s elite who flock to the elegant restaurant for a taste of its storied carbonara. The restaurant has been celebrated for years – it was awarded a Michelin star in 2012 – but it keeps reinventing itself. After relocating to Corso Vittorio Emanuele and welcoming a new chef, Pipero’s enduring popularity proves that classics only get better with time. Today, chef Circo Scamardella revisits traditional recipes and turns them into enticing dishes like vanilla ravioli with scallops or bavette noodles with cod and miso. Save room for dessert: the crêpes suzette flambéed table side are delicious.
13. Proloco Trastevere
Proloco Trastevere, a trattoria and pizzeria that exalts Lazio’s culinary traditions, is a haven for foodies who are passionate about provenance and sustainability. Owned by Vincenzo Mancino, the creator of the DOL brand (Di Origine Laziale di Roma), the restaurant serves dishes made with local ingredients hand-picked from producers in the region. Start with an order of roasted artichokes before biting into a perfectly al-dente plate of amatriciana with tender guanciale or slow-cooked meatballs in a bright tomato sauce. Proloco Trastevere also serves gourmet pizzas, baked in a wood-fire oven, and hosts a “Country Brunch” on Sundays.
14. Reserva Restaurante
One of the most stylish openings in Rome last year, Reserva Restaurante is an eye-catching restaurant and cocktail bar that serves South and Central American cuisine. Helmed by Paulo Aires, a Brazilian chef, it has a dynamic team from Colombia, Peru and Uruguay – capturing the tantalizing flavors of Latin recipes. The meat and fish dishes are excellent, from the pork belly tacos and Argentinian Angus beef to the ceviche, while vegetarians can enjoy guacamole freshly made at the table and quinoa tossed with pickled vegetables. Reserva is also a great place to while the night away sipping pisco sours at the bar.
After launching RetroBottega in 2016, a pioneer in the capital’s contemporary dining scene, founders Giuseppe Lo Iudice and Alessandro Miocchi have continued to create new ways to eat and drink in Rome. Last year, they opened RetroPasta, a fresh pasta shop where you can pick up tortellini and ravioli – and RetroVino. In just a matter of months, this tiny wine bar and bottle shop is already teeming with visitors who want a taste of the RetroBottega format in a more casual space. Grab a seat at the bar and pair a glass of natural wine with creative small plates, including foraged salads, pickled vegetables or cheese tasting boards.