Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9, Campo Marzio
It's hard to differentiate some of the eateries in this city given that there's so many gems, but 'Gusto stands apart for its ingenuity. More of a market-osteria-restaurant-bar hybrid, this warehouse, industrial-style space boasts some of the best provisions in the city, all under one roof. Owners Alessandra Marino and her husband, Alessandro Tudini, founded the space in the late 1990s, to offer patrons a place to grab a drink, a meal, a quick pizza, or some kitchen essentials. Since 'Gusto has grown to become sort of a culinary emporium. Do not come here expecting good service, but rather a bustling environment and exceptional dishes.
Via del Porcellana, Santa Maria Novella
Despite being a few minutes from Piazza Santa Maria Novella and a stone’s throw from Florence’s most popular hotels, 13 Gobbi feels like a local secret. The chatter that fills the room is mostly Italian, the old wooden chairs and tables, black-and-white photographs on the brick walls, and generally laid-back, rustic air is distinctly Tuscan. The food even more so—grilled steak Florentine served medium rare and room temperature (as it’s meant to be), white beans and spinach, and the most perfect plates of homemade spaghetti al pomodoro. Take a seat in the leafy courtyard and order all of the above plus a caprese salad and a bottle of the vino rosso della casa.
Via di Ripetta, 43, Campo Marzio
With its fresh, al dente pasta, robust wine cellar, and romantic interiors, this restaurant is classic Rome. Pasta is made in house, while seafood is brought in daily–and with almost every dish, the truffle reigns. We particularly love how the waitstaff is so patient and friendly, always willing to help you pair the best wine for your meal. You'll inevitably leave full, so take a stroll through the city's center after.
Vicolo delle Bollette, 13, Trevi
Tucked into a narrow street just steps from the Trevi Fountain, Al Moro is a completely non-touristy respite nearby. With fresh ingredients collected from local markets each morning, the menu is two-page combination of the classics, seasonal fare (think: snails in an anchovy, chile, and mint sauce, available around the Feast of Saint John the Baptist in June), plus some inventive, off-the-beaten path dishes created over the course of the restaurant’s nearly century-long history. The dining room is fairly formal; definitely make a reservation in advance if you can. There are a few tables outdoors on the narrow patio, and a space to host a private dinner if you need.
Alla Vecchia Bettola
Viale Vasco Pratolini, 3/5/7, Santo Spirito
With its floor-to-ceiling tiles, hanging cured meats, rustic wood tables dotted with carafes of house red, and bottles of oil and vinegar—to be liberally doused on salads—Alla Vecchia Bettola is the essence of Florence. Open since the late ’70s, the restaurant’s staying power is rooted in its solid, no-fuss menu of tender steak Florentine, desserts of fresh fruit and tiramisu, and of course, pasta. Long, communal tables mean guests often sit with people they don’t know, filling the restaurant with the convivial buzz and friendly chatter of strangers.
Via Garibaldi, 18, Trastevere
The humble entrance on Via Garibaldi doesn’t exactly give it away, but this semi-fine dining restaurant has a solid reputation for being something of a hotspot. Specifically, it’s the private open-air terrace—particularly romantic at sunset— that draws locals and in-the-know tourists for return visits; inside, the walls are almost entirely covered in works by local artists. Food-wise, expect to find a lot of Roman classics (cacio e pepe, tripe, carpaccio), plus the occasional culinary curveball.
Piazza Santo Spirito, 6-red, Santo Spirito
This relaxed trattoria in the Santo Spirito neighborhood is one of the better places anywhere in the city for satisfying basics, like pizza and pasta al pomodoro. Service can be Italian, so be prepared to wait a bit—this will be a more leisurely meal. If you’re lucky, you’ll be sitting outside overlooking the local piazza. It’s like real-life theater, and tourists are few and far between.
Via dei Vagellai, 18/R, Uffizi
It’s not easy to come by vegan food in Italy, and it’s basically impossible to come by good vegan food. Libreria Brac is the exception to the rule. A restaurant-meets-bookstore-meets-bar, it’s run by a group of young Italians looking to modernize the city’s cuisine (if just a little). Have a glass of wine as you browse through the selection of design and culinary books or head straight to the restaurant for dishes like a zucchini and cashew cheese galette, hearty soups and salads, and delicious vegan pastas.
Piazza degli Ottaviani, 16r, Santa Maria Novella
Securing a table at this upmarket restaurant can be a challenge, so take advantage of your hotel concierge or a local friend to make the booking. Buca Mario does the Florentine classics well, but also seafood—which isn’t as common in the city as you might think. Order a grilled fish or pasta dish (there are gluten-free options) and the gnocchi, which has a sharp, rich gorgonzola sauce. The service is excellent, and don’t be discouraged if you find fellow tourists on either side of you. It’s not that Buca Mario is a tourist trap; it’s just that all the hotels know the food is reliably good and recommend it regularly. Just don’t skip dessert—it comes wheeled out on an old-world trolley, displaying various fruit tarts and tiramisu.
Cacio e Pepe
Via Giuseppe Avezzana, 11, Prati
Somewhat removed from the chaos of more touristy parts of Rome’s center, this unassuming restaurant in Prati—which isn’t as warm or charming as other parts of the city, but blessedly calmer—offers excellent, locals-approved classics. You can’t go wrong with any of the pasta on the menu, but you’d be missing out if you didn’t order the restaurant’s namesake dish, which never disappoints. Note: During the week, the area swells with the bustle of workweek foot traffic from nearby business, so nights and weekends are actually a bit more relaxed here.
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