Rome remains a top destination for foodies, and has more dining diversity today than ever. Many of its trattorie haven’t changed their menus in a quarter of a century, but there’s an increasing number of creative eateries with chefs willing to experiment and revisit tradition to embrace modernity.
Restaurants generally serve lunch between 1 and 2:30pm, and dinner between about 8 and 10:30pm. At all other times, most restaurants are closed—though a new generation is moving toward all-day dining, with a limited service at the “in-between” time of mid-afternoon.
If you have your heart set on any of these establishments below, we seriously recommend reserving ahead of arrival. Hot tables go quickly, especially on high-season weekends—often twice: once for the early dining tourists, and then again by locals, who dine later, typically around 9pm.
A servizio (tip or service charge) is almost always added to your bill, or included in the price. Sometimes it is marked on the menu as pane e servizio (bread, cover charge, and service). You can of course leave extra if you wish—a couple of euros as a token. Don’t go overboard on the tipping front, and watch out for sharp practices. More than once we have overheard waitstaff telling foreign tourists that service wasn’t included, when the menu clearly stated (in Italian) that it was.
Don’t leave town without trying one of Rome’s outstanding ice-cream parlors. However, choose your Italian ice carefully! Gelaterie aimed exclusively at tourists are notorious for poor-quality gelato and sky-high prices. Don’t buy close to the main piazzas, and avoid places whose vats display heaped, brightly colored, air-pumped gelato. The best gelato is made only from natural ingredients, which impart an often subtle color (if the pistachio gelato is bright green, for example, rather than grayish-green, move on).
You should generally take your cone (cono) or small cup (coppetta) and walk as you eat—sitting down on the premises or ordering at outside tables could be much more expensive.
Below are some of our favorite spots in the city, each definitely worth a detour. Each generally opens midmorning and closes late—sometimes after midnight on a summer weekend evening.
Come il Latte ★★★ GELATO — Latte is Italian for milk, and in this case, the key ingredient in this delightful little gelateria’s daily artisan production. Flavors range from salted caramel to mascarpone and crumbled cookies, espresso coffee, and rice with cinnamon; while fruit flavors rotate according to season. Summer delights may include Sorrento lemons and wild strawberries; persimmon, date, and chestnut creams grace the winter menu. Homemade wafer and sugar cones can be filled with dark or white chocolate sauce and then scooped with your flavors of choice, ultimately topped with fresh whipped cream. Sleek design, sustainable short supply chain ingredients, Americana drinking fountain, and old school vat containers complete the charming setting.
Via Silvio Spaventa 24. (tel) 06-42903882. Cups from 3€. Daily noon–midnight and Sat–Sun 4–10pm. Closed 2 weeks in mid-Aug. Metro: Repubblica or Castro Pretorio.
Fatamorgana ★★★ GELATO — Creative flavors are the hallmark of this Monti gelateria. Try the crema di zenzero (cream of ginger), cioccolato Lapsang Souchong (chocolate with smoked black tea), or a surprising basil–walnut–honey combo. There’s a firm commitment to seasonal and organic ingredients in every slurp, and given the founder is celiac, all products, cones included, are gluten-free.
Piazza degli Zingari 5. (tel) 06-86391589. Cones from 2€. Metro: Cavour. Also at: Via Lago di Lesina 9–11; Via Bettolo 7; Piazza San Cosimato.
Fior di Luna ★★★ GELATO — Trastevere’s best artisan gelato, made with natural and fair trade produce. The range is small, and there are no cones—but you won’t care. The stars are the intense and incredibly rich chocolate flavors, spiked with fig or orange, or made with single cru cocoa. Fior di Luna also churns one mean pistachio, one unlike you’ve ever tasted.
Via della Lungaretta 96. (tel) 06-64561314. Cups from 2€. Bus: H or 780/Tram: 8.
Gelateria Alberto Pica ★★★ GELATO — One of Rome’s oldest artisan gelato makers, it produces top-quality gelato churned with ingredients sourced locally, including wild strawberries grown on the family’s countryside estate. Just a few of our many faves include rice with cinnamon, Sicilian pistachio, honey and orange, and Amalfi lemon.
Via della Seggiola 12. No website. (tel) 06-6868405. Cups from 2€. Daily 8am–9pm. Bus: H, 63, 780, or 810/Tram: 8.
Gelateria Vice ★★★ GELATO — This chain of certified organic artisan gelaterias produces top quality gelato with only ingredients and products sourced from sustainable agriculture and Slow Food Presidia, like organic Alpine milk and fresh eggs from free-range chickens, and Amedei, Domori, Valrhona chocolates, to mention a few. Vice also enforces a strict ban on hydrogenated fats, artificial food pigments, and preservatives; it opts instead for low-fat and reduced sugar. Favorite flavors are milk chocolate with lavender; Valrhona choc and brandy with candied orange; vin santo and dipping biscotti; Amalfi lemon; Piemonte hazelnut; blueberry crumble; honey-chamomile, and many more mainstream flavors.
Corso Vittorio Emanuele II 96. (tel) 06-631779. Cups from 2,50€. Tues–Thurs 9am–11pm, Fri–Sun 8am–midnight. Bus: 30, 40, 62, 64, 81, or 492. Also at: Via Fabio Massimo 64; Via Gregorio VII 385; Viale Marconi 207.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.