Rome is a foodie destination, but with so many restaurants, enotecas, and gelaterias to choose from, knowing where to eat can be overwhelming, especially on a budget. On one hand, you don’t want to eat at any of the ubiquitous tourist traps with their picture menus (a tell-tale sign of tourist trap – if there are pictures, do not go!) and microwaved lasagna. You are also traveling on a budget and don’t want to break the bank for white table cloths and a 100 euro bottle of wine. What you really want is a place that is authentic, approachable, cheap, and most importantly delicious!
Our Favorite Restaurants & Bars in Rome
The restaurants listed below are all places that fit the description above – reasonably priced, authentic, and delicious. During our three days in Rome, we visited all of these places (some more than once!) and are happy to recommend them, but there are many more places that we didn’t get to visit.
Below are 8 of our favorite restaurants and bars in Rome, including a brief description of the type of restaurant or cuisine.
- Il Sori: wine bar
- eTabli: wine/cocktail bar & restaurant
- Enotecca Il Piccolo: wine bar
- Obica: lunch (Mozzarella bar)
- Ditirambo: restaurant (great pasta)
- Pan e Salame: lunch (sandwiches)
- Mimi e Coco: restaurant (classic Italian with unique twists)
- Giolitti: gelato
1. Il Sori
Neighborhood: San Lorenzo
Il Sori is cozy wine bar, with dark lighting and a quiet, ambient vibe. Tucked away in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, it is a bit out of the way from most major tourist destinations. You can find wonderful charcuterie, cheese, sandwiches, and other light fare, but the true star is the wine. We stopped here for a glass after a long day of travel, and were so enamored with the place that one glass turned into two, which turned into a bottle…who is counting when you’re in Italy?
The owner working behind the bar was happy to help us pick different glasses when it was obvious we did not know what to choose. We recommend the Puglia Primitive Vallone, Toscano Montepulciano, and Fiuli Ografe. We actually stopped back in before we left Rome to get a bottle of the Puglia Primitive Vallone for home. The ambiance, the wine, the service – it is hard to beat Il Sori!
Wine/Cocktail Bar & Restaurant
Location: 2 minute walk from Piazza Navona, 5 minute walk from the Pantheon
Housed in a 15th century building, not far from Piazza Navona, is Etabli, a wine and cocktail bar with a self-described “shabby-chic” interior. We stopped in one afternoon for cocktails (I think I had my first Aperol Spritzer here) and relaxed in comfy armchairs in what felt like a living room decorated with rustic, pastel accessories. Etabli has an extensive wine list, fabulous cocktails, and, although we didn’t eat, the food looked delicious and the menu was reasonably-priced. The dinner menu leans toward Mediterranean and they offer quick lunch bites for those in the middle of a busy day. We preferred taking our time and sipping on cocktails though!
3. Enoteca Il Piccolo
Location: 2 minute walk from Piazza Navona, 5 minute walk from the Pantheon
Picture a dimly-lit wine bar with flickering candles on each table and people spilling onto the street, and you have Il Piccolo. We wandered in one night after seeing a group of men loudly conversing (arguing?) in Italian, clearly having consumed some vino, sitting outside. Figuring that drunk Italian men were a sign of a good time, we decided to check it out and we are very happy we did.
This is the kind of place where you cozy up with a bottle of wine and don’t leave until it’s gone – the sound of laughter and the din of the Roman night providing the perfect background noise. The menu is written by hand and wine bottles are stacked to the ceiling. Small, warm, unpretentious, but purely authentic. We could not help ourselves from coming here a second time even after insisting we were going to bed early. One or two bottles of wine later, stumbling home over the cobblestone, we certainly didn’t get to bed early, but we’ll always remember Il Piccolo.
Location: 5 minute walk form the Pantheon, 10 minute walk from Trevi Fountain
Just a short walk from the Pantheon you can find Obica Mozzarella Bar – yes, a mozzarella bar – which is exactly what it sounds like. But don’t be fooled, this was probably the first “healthy” meal we ate in Italy. After a few days of pizza and pasta, we were dying for something green and Obica delivered. The menu is full of a wide range of delicious lunch options – salume, pasta, pizza, zuppe and of course plenty of amazing mozzarella. We opted for the healthier insalate (and maybe a little salume and mozzarella) but everything here looked amazing
Restaurant – Great Pasta
Location: 2 minute walk from Campo d’Fiori
Full disclosure: before Italy, Sarah was not a huge pasta fan. Scarred by the typical plates of greasy, oily tomato sauce and spaghetti in America, she never understood my love of macaroni. Enter, Ditirambo. This was our first authentic Italian pasta experience and I will never forget Sarah’s reaction to her first bite of homemade ravioli. She finally understood!
There is nothing fancy about Ditirambo, but when you execute the classics to perfection, you get an endorsement from me. The best part – not a thing on their menu is over 18 euro.
6. Pan e Salame
Location: 2 minute walk from Trevi Fountain
The name says it all – bread and meat, which might sound simple but at Pane e Salame, simple is delicious. Cured meats hang from the ceiling, fresh bread sits behind the counter – add a little cheese, a little wine, and you have a perfect meal. Pane e Salame is right around the corner from the Trevi Fountain so it does get crowded and it is small inside. We had to wait for about 30 minutes, but it was well worth it.
You can grab sandwiches to-go or settle down at a table. We went around lunchtime and opted for sandwiches but they are also well-known for their outsized charcuterie, with some meat boards spanning the length of the table. Between the meat, cheese, and sandwiches, you really can’t go wrong.
7. Mimi e Coco
Location: 2 minute walk from Piazza Navona, 7 minute walk from Pantheon
I don’t even know where to start with Mimi e Coco besides saying this place is a must. The most memorable aspect of Mimi e Coco was the atmosphere and service, which can only be described as energetic. The place just seemed to buzz with energy – it’s a little loud, you will probably bump elbows with a diner squeezed into a table next to you, and your server might dance over to take your order, zig-zagging across the dining room, but that is what makes this place one-of-a-kind. It’s a little chaotic, a lot of fun, and downright delicious.
I opted for the carbonara, because you can’t leave Rome and not have carbonara. Sarah ordered grilled chicken skewers, which may seem un-Italian, but they were phenomenal. We also had our first taste of Gewürztraminer here and it is our new favorite white wine. Mimi e Coco is fun, friendly, delicious, and cheap – almost everything on the menu is under 12 euro.
Location: 4 minute walk from Pantheon, 8 minute walk from Trevi Fountain
Giolitti is the oldest and most famous gelateria in Rome and while it draws a touristy crowd, there is a reason it has stood the test of time. Offering a wide range of delectable gelato flavors, pastries, cookies, and coffee, you will not be disappointed. Be warned – Giolitti still operates using traditional Italian bar etiquette, meaning that you first approach the cashier, order whatever size gelato you would like, pay, and get your receipt. You then take your receipt, make eye contact with a server or approach the gelato serving area, where you hand them your receipt and order your gelato. In hindsight, it’s a simple process, but will feel like absolute mayhem if you aren’t prepared (where is the line!?). On a hot summer afternoon, there is nothing better than refreshing gelato no matter where you get it. Sure, some spots are better than others but gelato is gelato – it’s never bad. One pro tip – always get multiple flavors!
Other tips for eating better and spending less in Rome
- Avoid restaurants with pictures of the menu in the window. These are tourist traps! Avoid them at all costs. These restaurants are likely to be poor quality and overpriced.
- Stop into a restaurant at happy hour. Many offer complimentary snacks, such as freshly baked focaccia bread, during this time.
- Water isn’t free. If you are from the United States, you are used to water being free. Not the case in Italy. To save a little money, fill up your water bottle at your hotel or Airbnb.
- Don’t tip. If you are used to tipping, this feels so strange. But in Italy, servers wages are built into the menu prices so tipping is not expected.
We hope this list serves as a helpful starting point in figuring out where to eat in Rome. We are obviously not experts in this domain by any means, but we only recommend places we truly loved!
Planning a trip to Rome? Be sure to check out our complete guides to spending 2 days in Rome and 9 days in Italy:
For all things Italy: Italy Travel Guide
Have you been to any of the places on this list? Let us know what you thought in the comments section below!