After writing this second Rome synopsis post, I realized just how much we saw and did (and ate)! We tried our best to scout out as many neighborhoods and treasures as possible, and we certainly discovered some little gems along the way. I’ve included an asterisk (*) next to my absolute favorite establishments in case you don’t have over a month to explore.
Where to eat and drink
Rimessa Roscioli*: we booked a wine tasting and food pairing dinner here, and had one of the best evenings of our trip. Delicious (and plentiful) bites accompanied each of the eight fabulous wines, the sommelier and manager were informative, fun, and generous, and the atmosphere was relaxed and festive. Highly recommended experience – worth every penny. The Roscioli family also includes a restaurant, deli/bar, and bakery – definitely worth visiting.
Pinsere*: we think it’s the best pizza in Rome – and for 5 euros each, it’s definitely the best value. They’re large personal-size, the toppings are flavorful and sometimes unusual, and the owner and his wife are very friendly. It’s always crowded, as far as I can tell, but belly up to the counter and then stand and gobble up your freshly wood-fired delicacy. This is one of the two places we visited twice – and it was even better the second time.
Il Panino Ingegnoso*: definitely the best panini we had in Rome. They have a whole pig on the counter which they carve up and top with different sauces and veggies (it’s their specialty). Other options abound if whole pig isn’t your thing. Cheap, fast, and super tasty – and the only other restaurant we visited a second time.
Freni e Frizioni*: Google “best aperitivo in Rome” and this place, located in a former auto mechanic’s garage (the name means “Brakes and Clutches”) is sure to come up. The buffet is huge (with mostly veggie/vegan options), the drinks are tasty and quite boozy, and the bartenders – and owner – are fantastically nice and fun. Bonus: you can visit the buffet as many times as you like, even if you only buy a drink or two.
Niji Cafè*: our favorite cocktail bar in Rome. It’s tiny, has a speakeasy vibe, and you have to be a member to order a drink. But don’t worry – it’s only 1 euro to join. Sip your meticulously crafted libation on plush armchairs and play the bar’s board game with spare change. There’s even free popcorn, along with a nice selection of meats and cheeses. Very friendly bartenders/servers as well.
Fafiuché: another fantastic place for aperitivo in Rome. For 3 euros, you get access to an impressive buffet of Piemontese and Tuscan dishes, and the wines start at 5 euros a glass. Small and cozy, you can easily while away the night here.
Mercato Testaccio: located in the fun, up-and-coming Testaccio neighborhood (next to an ancient Roman amphora dump, no less!), this shiny, new market houses some seriously delicious food stalls. Mordi e Vai* (“Bite and Go”) sells the best sandwiches around – just be careful they don’t drip down your elbow. Many other options draw crowds of eager foodies daily, and decent wine is readily available for 2 euros a glass. The market closes at 3pm (and many stalls pack up by 1:30), so plan accordingly.
La Punta: if you’ve had enough Italian food and just want some good, interior Mexican cuisine, this is the place for you. The menu is a book (and contains the ingredients/recipes for all dishes), the cocktail list is a passport, and the flavorful food and zingy cocktails will transport you right to Mexico. Make sure to try the Ocho tequila – it’s from Ashland, Oregon, and it’s our favorite!
Birra+: this little beer bar in the slightly out of the way Pigneto neighborhood pours some seriously tasty and different beers. I had one of the best stouts of my life, Joe had an incredible wine barrel-aged dark sour, and the ambiance was cozy and welcoming. After enjoying their happy hour (4 euro pints), we headed down to Officina Burger n’ Beer – definitely off the beaten tourist path – and enjoyed the best burgers we’ve had in months. We also met some of the friendliest locals we’ve encountered on the whole trip. They even let us play with their adorable Frenchie who was sitting quietly under their table.
Enoteca Wine Concept: this small, sleek wine bar is tucked away down a side street near the colosseum. Many regulars seem to frequent its counter in the evenings, and they offer some lovely bruschetta and small bites to accompany their massive selection of wines. They even do a surprise wine by the glass – and let you taste the wine before you confirm your order, to make sure you like it – to encourage you to really taste, feel, smell, and enjoy the wine.
Vecchia Roma*: this surprisingly large, cave-like trattoria sits just up the street from our apartment near the Vittorio Emmanuel metro stop. It’s not a touristy area. But this 100 year old restaurant is packed – with people spilling out onto the street corner waiting – every day for lunch and dinner. The pasta was divine (we had cacio e pepe and amatriciana), the house wine was cheap and tasty (3.50 euro for a half liter), and our server was friendly, attentive, and helpful. Win-win-win!