Updated: May 28
The Best Restaurants in Rome Near a Famous Monument, Square or Ancient Ruin
Believe it or not, it IS possible to eat bad food in Italy. While there are countless options, it’s surprisingly hard to find a great authentic restaurant in Rome for tourists visiting the city center, especially when you’re strapped for time and nearing the point of starvation. But ignore that general rule of thumb to avoid eating at restaurants near a famous monument, fountain, church or square in Rome. Because you can find an amazing restaurant and proper Roman meal right around the corner!
From the often overlooked restaurants to some secret places hidden away and out of plain sight,
I’ve put a list of restaurants together so you can have one of the best food experiences in Rome within close proximity to all the must-see attractions. These are definitely not your average tourist traps despite the vicinity to the major sites and monuments in Rome historic city center.
In no particular order, here are the best restaurants near in Rome near a famous monument, square or ancient ruin:
1. THE PANTHEON Tucked away in a little alleyway off another bustling but somewhat hidden square, Il Bacaro looks exactly like those picturesque postcards of Rome. With the most enchanting outdoor space adorned with hanging ivy and white lights, it is seriously the perfect setting for a dinner in Rome. The restaurant, enoteca and wine shop named after the Venetian word for a simple restaurant or wine bar typical in Venice (bacaro) has been around since the 80’s. However with a recent takeover and transformation by the incredible host Federico Orsi, you fall in love with his home instantly making it your own for the evening. The food menu is impressive with the classic Roman dishes, some with a twist and so much more. Everything coming from Chef Claudio’s kitchen is done with the utmost quality and taste and the attentive service and Italian hospitality are fantastic. Combining Italian tradition and international flavors, some of the most popular dishes are their signature tuorlo d’uovo croccante (crunchy egg yolk) with truffles and parmigiano cheese aged 36 months, their evergreen carbonara with truffles for pasta primi and for an entrée - another tribute to Venice and also Rome - baccala in olio cottura con scarola, uvetta e pinoli (codfish cooked in oil with escarole, raisins and pine nuts). Another must-order is any one of their homemade desserts of the day and there’s also an excellent wine selection by the bottle and wines by the glass (27 actually!) all housed in their little cantina next door. They also do wine brunch events, exclusive wine tastings, business lunches, and their ‘Chef a Domicilio’ which brings the taste of Il Bacaro (and also a wine pairing if you wish) directly to your home is perfect for parties, special occasions or just a memorable night in. Also worth mentioning is the menu is really easy to navigate for those with food allergies and intolerances. A secret, hidden gem due to their food and wine, philosophy and lovely ambience, Il Bacaro is a truly magical place.
Tuorlo d’uovo croccante, Il Bacaro
2. CAMPO DE' FIORI Now this restaurant is not technically hidden, although the entrance somewhat is. Located on the historical street in which it’s named after is Giulia - a gourmet restaurant and cocktail bar in a welcoming yet sophisticated space. Colorful and playful both with their cuisine and décor. Their culinary approach mixes tradition with modernity with some really creative dishes and renditions coming out of their kitchen. Chef Alessandro Borgo and his team incorporates Mediterranean ingredients and flavors in every plate - some recognizable, some not. And behind the bar is veteran bartender Gianluca doing the same with his cocktails from his signature drinks to classics and his twist on a classic. For a fun and unique type of dining experience when in Rome, Giulia Restaurant is a great representation of what new Roman cuisine looks (and tastes) like.
Gazpacho mousse, Giulia Restaurant
3. PIAZZA NAVONA Da Francesco is quickly becoming an old staple here in Rome. This restaurant, located off one of the most bustling squares, is something rare. Offering both pasta AND pizza all under one roof – and for lunch and dinner! Serving up the classic Roman pastas and entrees, Da Francesco has some solid lasagna as well. Also nearby Piazza Navona is Fatto in Casa by Hosteria La Danesina for some home cooking and food from the heart. Not to mention the best ravioli and homemade desserts!
Da Francesco's Carbonara
Homemade Ravioli at Fatto in Casa by Hosteria La Danesina
4. TREVI FOUNTAIN That’s Amore. Don’t be fooled by the name, this restaurant is 100 per cent Italian all the way. Chef Fabio Bongianni has been in this business for years and it shows. Always ahead of his time first with opening T-Bone Station, the first line of American Steakhouses in Rome, then with his unique hands-on cooking experience and his more recent restaurant, That’s Amore. Staying true to the lyrics of the Dean Martin song and also his Roman roots, everything about this restaurant makes you feel good. You’ll find everything on the food menu from traditional and signature dishes to delicious pizza, homemade pastas and desserts, and incredible wines. But most importantly you will find a place full of great energy and warmth. Manager and sommelier Alessandro Di Biasio and his team welcome you as if you are entering their home and treat you as such until you walk out the door. Worth mentioning: That’s Amore has been recently (and beautifully) renovated with a proper bar headed by the young but capable bartender Christos and additional outside seating that’s a good distance from the Trevi Fountain crowds but close enough that you can stroll by after your dinner.
Homemade Lasagna, That's Amore
5. SPANISH STEPS - PIAZZA DEL POPOLO Il Margutta Food & Art is a modern alternative restaurant and art gallery serving the most creative Roman classic dishes with a vegetarian twist. A simple restaurant, ingredients and concept – but not. Italy’s first vegetarian restaurant since 1979, wellness, gastronomic research, and vegetarian passion are the focus here but never comprising quality and flavor. Il Margutta is a great place for non-vegetarians too and those wanting to explore a different way of eating. Salads, raw food and entrees featuring only the freshest of veggies from their vegetable garden with pastas, soups, rice, seitan and other wheat-based entrees. Vegetarian gourmet in a stylish, artistic setting is right around the often-crowded main road to the tourist sights via del Corso, right in between Piazza del Popolo and the Spanish Steps. Open for aperitivo, dinner and their famous brunch.
Papaya and Avocado Salad, Il Margutta
6. VATICAN CITY - PRATI L’Arcangelo Vino & Cucina, is a sophisticated gourmet tavern (or trattoria) mere steps from Vatican City. The dishes from Chef Arcangelo Dandini- somewhat of a celebrity chef here in Rome - reflects the typical Roman and Lazio recipes and traditions, up a notch. Cucina povera taken to another level of refinement and taste, always featuring the heart and soul of Italian cooking by using the highest quality raw materials, fresh seasonal products and sometimes a hint of those old Roman recipes and techniques. The interiors are modern chic - almost reminiscent of a French Brasserie, only Italian-style. An elegant setting and dining experience that is perfect for a special dinner when in Rome.
Cacio e Pepe, L'Arcangelo
8. BASILICA SAN GIOVANNI IN LATERANO Santa Palato is a small but mighty place not too far from Basilica di San Giovanni in Laterano. A modern trattoria in the heart of Rome dishing out local Roman staples including all the traditional pasta and meat plates in a cool and casual yet homey setting. Young but incredibly talented chef (and owner) Sarah Cicolini took Rome by storm only a few years ago with her addictive, hearty dishes. The chalkboard menu changes daily and everything is always pretty amazing but if you happen to see their signature lasagna listed - do yourself a favor and order that. It is beyond compare. If you’re in the mood for something a little different and more seafood-focused there’s the neighboring Piccadilly – a contemporary bistro. Creative international cuisine “where tastes and trends meet” you can feast from aperitivo time until late night. You’ll find the some of the freshest raw fish, oysters, and seafood in Rome as well as the standard pasta and meat entrees. Piccadilly also has some great cocktails and desserts like their slice of artisan panettone with cream and ‘sbriciolata’ with Nutella. Piccadilly is a favorite local place for stellar food and great vino with a wine list consisting of about 300 labels from bubbles to natural wines to vintage, representing not solely Italy but wines from France, Spain and all across the globe. Another strongpoint is that their outdoor patio is open year-round for both lunch and dinner.
Santo Palato's Signature Lasagna
7. COLOSSEUM-MONTI Alle Carrette another little gem in Rome city center. Family owned and operated and literally right around the corner from the Roman Forum, this quaint pizzeria and restaurant has an extensive selection of ‘tonda style’ pizze rosse and pizze bianche (red and white thin-crust pizza famous in Rome) with the most interesting flavor combinations to choose from as well as fritti, calzone and crostini. Hidden away from the famous ancient Roman street Fori Imperiali, with their secret outdoor dining area and the most pleasant staff, Alle Carrette makes for the most charming evening in Roma. They also have one of the best Roman style pizza in the Eternal City.
Pizza Margherita, Alle Carrette
9. PIRAMIDE - TESTACCIO Family owned and operated Checchino dal 1887 in the historic neighborhood of Testaccio has been serving the famous Roman quinto-quarto (the fifth quarter) cucina povera cuisine for over a century. And you can find just about everything on the menu here! Included are the standard Roman pastas of course, but you’ll also discover some traditional Roman dishes and recipes that you just won’t see on other restaurant menus in Rome. From ‘fagioli con le cotiche’ (the absolutely insane bean and pork rinds entrée) to their infamous ‘coda alla vaccinara’ (oxtail stew) to mixed roasted innards, pigs’ feet and cow tongue. But this restaurant is not only for meat lovers and adventurous eaters - Checchino dal 1887 offers plenty of options that are vegetarian friendly and gluten-free. And everything is always seasonal. The service and staff (most likely all related) are extremely professional and although the environment seems somewhat formal, you feel completely at home and at ease here. It is as close to an upscale dining experience and environment you can get at a fraction of the price but still with that same high level of quality and taste. And if by any chance Simone Mina (the grandson, also one of the best bartenders in Rome) is working that day, ask him to make you one of his crazy inventive and unique signature cocktails from his secret bar Ch1887 upstairs! Sidenote: Checchino dal 1887 is located just outside of the Mattatoio (the old slaughterhouse) where quinto quarto cuisine was most likely born. Also nearby are the following somewhat undiscovered sights worth a visit before or after: Piramide di Caio Cestio (the Pyramid of Caius Cestius), Monte dei Cocci (Monte Testaccio), Centrale Montemartini, and the Non-Catholic Cemetery in Rome.
Coda alla vaccinara, Checchino dal 1887
10. BASILICA SAN PAOLO Al Biondo Tevere is another historic trattoria just outside the ancient walls of Rome and a few steps away from Basilica San Paolo. This family owned and operated restaurant has been serving mostly Romans (and some tourists) since 1915. The atmosphere is open and laid-back consisting of simple and delicious Roman cuisine. Classic homemade dishes and family recipes from carbonara, cacio e pepe and l’amatriciana and pajata to pizza, cooked to perfection seasonal vegetables, grilled meats and fish can all be found here. Al Biondo has several seating options to choose from but their recently expanded terrace with the most tranquil view overlooking the Tiber River has you feeling like you’re out in the Roman countryside and not in the heart of Rome. This rare, unassuming restaurant that’s almost unknown to tourists is rich in history, tradition and cooking with the most sincere and welcoming family behind every operation - from the kitchen to the waitstaff. You’ll definitely feel and eat like you’re at home when you are here.
Fresh fish (and dessert) of the day on the outdoor deck at Al Biondo Tevere overlooking the Tiber