Who knows Rome’s restaurants better than the city’s food critics? After all, it’s their job to eat through the Eternal City, sizing up everything from bars to bakeries, no-frills trattorias to gourmet newcomers.

We asked nine food writers to spill their top spots to eat and drink, concocting an eclectic cheat sheet of where to dine during your holiday in Italy’s capital city. 

A photo of a man grinning, looking away from the camera. There is a river on the right and cherry blossom trees to the left with their petals swirling everywhere
Massimiliano Tonelli © Francesca Magnani

Massimiliano Tonelli – Director, Gambero Rosso 

Sit down for a quick and delectable meal of Puglia’s temptations at this delicatessen. And – surprise! – it has an incredible gin selection. Not even locals know about this place yet. 

Two brothers, one in the kitchen the other in the dining room. Natural wines are carefully selected by small producers, and each dish bursts with creativity. Discover it before everyone else does. 

A small slice of Scandinavia in Rome. Bread and viennoiseries are made by Danish Sophie, while Calabrese chef Domenico takes care of the savoury fare. A culinary power couple that have put together one of the most interesting restaurants to hit the city.  

A man sitting outside a restaurant with yellow walls wearing a colourful, striped shirt. He is looking down at the arancini he is holding, that he has taken a bite from and there is a string of cheese going from the ball to his mouth
Andrea Strafile © Luna S. Ferrari

Andrea Strafile – Munchies - VICE, Fine Dining Lovers 

Bar San Calisto 
An old-school bar/oasis in Trastevere where neighbourhood elders sit and play cards and young people meet up with their friends. Their coffee granita with unsweetened whipped cream is legendary. For drinks, trust in a classic Peroni. 

La Santeria di Mare 
La Santeria is my favourite spot in my old stomping ground of Pigneto: think tons of natural wines, a high-quality oyster bar, and satisfying bistrot dishes. Oh, and it also has the most beautiful bathroom in all of Rome...

La Punta Expendio De Agave
A little corner of Mexico in Rome, with good Mexican food and fantastic mezcal cocktails. Downstairs there’s a psychedelic-themed cocktail bar. This place has already gone down in history in my books. 

A woman smiling into the camera wearing a yellow scarf and black top. There is wine stacked from floor to ceiling in the background.
Luciana Squadrilli © Luciana Squadrilli

Luciana Squadrilli – Lonely Planet Italia, Reporter Gourmet, Pizza on the Road, author of audio tour Testaccio: The Hearth of Roman Tradition   

Seu Pizza Illuminati
My favourite pizza place in town. The pizzas have an airy soft crust, and the toppings are incredibly well-balanced. Don’t miss the vegetarian and vegan options where you’ll see greens, roots and tubers in a whole new light. 

The best culinary surprise of 2019. Expect a brilliant, adventurous menu, with impeccable French-style execution. It’s the restaurant I gladly return to again and again! 

Open Baladin
Sometimes I crave a good craft beer and an un-fussy burger with a side of tasty crisps to dig into and leave my daily stress behind. This welcoming pub is the perfect place and I’ve been a regular for years. 

A woman smiling, sitting outside a restaurant and looking over her shoulder away from the camera. She is wearing a stripy dress and has her hand on a glass of wine on the table
Katie Parla © Mandy Johnson

Katie Parla – The New York Times, Food & Wine, Saveur, Eater, cookbook author Food of the Italian South, GOLA podcast host 

180g Pizzeria Romana
Mirko Rizzo tends to the perfect fritti while Jacopo Mercuro works the pizza oven. As the name suggests, they use 180g of long-fermented dough for each pizza, which is stretched by hand and garnished with toppings both classic and creative to yield a characteristically crispy pizza romana.

Mercato Centrale
Start at the western entrance of this ambitious food hall, where Gabriele Bonci’s bakery serves pizza by the slice, then grab a glass at the wine bar next door – they start at just €5. At the far end of the Mercato grab a chicken cacciatore trapizzino, they’re a must. 

Il Goccetto
Great atmosphere and an extensive wines-by-the-glass list (there are up to 30 on offer) make this wine bar a cult favourite among oenophiles. Head to the wood-accented inner sanctum where owners Sergio and Anna Ceccarelli have built an enviable cellar of more than 800 labels.

A woman looking down at the plate of food she is holding, surrounded by people who are reaching to get some food from the plate
Pamela Panebianco © Pamela Panebianco

Pamela Panebianco – Agrodolce 

Idylio by Francesco Apreda
The place to go when I want to pamper myself. Grab an aperitivo on their Divinity Terrace rooftop that overlooks the Pantheon, or try the tasting menu at the restaurant; each dish is more surprising than the next. 

Proloco Trastevere
No one researches and chooses their products as meticulously as Proloco. Indulge in a meat and cheese board, pizza, or Roman cuisine paired with a glass of wine. You’ll fall in love. 

Charlotte Pasticceria
Self-taught pastry chef Claudia Martelloni used to work as a miniaturist, and it shows in her pretty and intricate desserts and cakes. If you’re on the fence about what to order, get the Tiziana! 

Mozzarella, chicory and guanciale pizza at Seu Pizza Illuminati. ©Alexandra Bruzzese/Lonely Planet

Tania Mauri – Cook_inc, Reporter Gourmet, Espresso, Pizza on the Road

Bonci Pizzarium
The best pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) in Rome by Bonci, the "Michelangelo of pizza". Soft and crispy crust and classic to creative toppings. Don’t leave without sampling the dreamy suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto rice with tomato sauce). 

Zia Restaurant
Zia’s dream team is young, talented and driven by passion. Chef Antonio Ziantoni’s cuisine respects traditions and ingredients, composing original dishes influenced by French technique.  

Not far from Piazza Navona, Coromandel is an ideal place to leave behind the city frenzy. It offers an excellent menu by Chef Ornella de Felice, and on the weekend, the best brunch in Rome. 

A man sitting at a table that is set for a meal. He is writing on, and looking down at, a notepad to his right
Carlo Passera © Carlo Passera

Carlo Passera – Identita Golose

Il Pagliaccio
Chef Anthony Genovese’s 2-Michelin starred Il Pagliaccio is possibly the most creative restaurant in the city. Dishes are refined, original, and include flavours from abroad, particularly from Asia.

Pascucci al Porticciolo
Whenever I arrive in Rome by plane via the Fiumicino Airport I stop here. Chef Gianfranco Pascucci proves one of the top interpreters of seafood in Italy; his wife restaurant manager Vanessa Melis is excellent in the dining room. 

Glass Hostaria
Chef Cristina Bowerman’s restaurant is a wonderful reference point for contemporary, aware, and original cuisine with an Italian soul and cosmopolitan technique.

A woman is holding a wooden board towards the camera with a half eaten pizza on it and smiling
Floriana Barone © Floriana Barone

Floriana Barone – Luciano Pignataro Blog 

My favourite bakery in Rome is conveniently located in my favourite neighbourhood, the Jewish Quarter. Boccione has been around for over two-and-a-half centuries, and the sour cherry and ricotta pie is pure heaven. 

180g Pizzeria Romana
Don’t leave Rome without trying this pizza romana! Venture into the Centocelle neighbourhood for a revisited take on the classic: extra crispy pizza, stretched by hand, with creative toppings.  

L’Osteria Birra del Borgo
Close to the Vatican? Luca Pezzetta’s Birra del Borgo is a sure bet. He has six different types of dough on the menu, including the antifocaccia: crust made with a sourdough starter and toasted seeds, stuffed with slow-cooked boar, BBQ pumpkin and blueberries.  

A black and white portrait of a man from the chest up, sitting in front of a blackboard, resting his head on his closed fist, looking into the camera
Andrea Febo © brambillaserrani

Andrea Febo – Agrodolce, Il Messaggero, Founder Radiofood, Gastronauta  

I have many wonderful memories of nights with friends at the counter of this lovely bistrot. Despite being in the touristy historic centre, whatever you order you’ll go home happy. 

Zia Restaurant
This restaurant is one of the best in Rome right now: the cuisine is full of whimsy and the staff is warm and welcoming. Gourmet food in the serene heart of Trastevere. 

Trattoria Pennestri
This informal trattoria strikes a great balance between rich flavours and creativity, with an eclectic wine list. I feel at home every time I’m here! 

You might also like:
World Pasta Day: where to find your favourite pasta shapes
Italy’s best dishes and where to try them
Spending diary: what I spent on a four-day trip to Rome

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