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The Best in Rome


Antica Trattoria Due Colonne
If you are a lover of fish and seafood, Due Colonne is a must. Recently opened, it is owned and run by one of Rome’s great waiters and maitre d’s, Antonio Francesco Donato, who finally decided to start his own place and has enlisted his family to help out (his wife’s own tiramisu recipe, made with pistachios, is divine). The restaurant is modestly decorated but the food is outstanding in every respect.  Service is excellent; (Donato has the habit of calling all his female customers, ‘principessa,’ and treats them as such.) Baked sea bass and an unending variety of fish and seafood appetizers — succulent shrimp from Sicily, lemony tuna carpaccio, ice-cold oysters, when available, and steamed mussels and clams, to name a few — are stand outs.  Due Colonne also offers meat dishes and traditional Roman pasta dishes but it’s the fish that makes this restaurant special. Prices are extremely reasonable , a fraction of what other top-end Roman seafood restaurants charge. As if that weren’t enough, Due Colonne is less than a stone’s throw from one of the most beautiful small Baroque piazzas in Rome, the 18th-century Piazza di Sant Ignazio, designed by Filippo Raguzzini to resemble a theatrical stage.  Brightly lit at night, you will feel as if you are on a set. As you leave the restaurant, turn left and stroll through the square. When you go, please refer to In Rome Now when Donato, the owner, greets you.
Via del Seminario, 122 (Stand directly in front of the Pantheon with your back to it, turn to the right and you will see a small street that will take you to Due Colonne.)
Tel: 06 678 1449

Romans Recommend:
Armando Al Pantheon
In business since 1961 by Armando Gargioli, and now run by his sons Fabrizio and Claudio, this traditional Roman restaurant offers a vegetarian menu as well as the usual dishes — some with their own innovations — and an extensive wine list. The specialities include le polpettine di farro in salsa di tartufo o gorgonzola, (spelt dumplings in truffle or goronzola sauce) and homemade desserts such as their rum torte.
Salita de' Crescenzi, 31, tel 06 688 03034 for a great Roman lunch or dinner.
Recommended by Jeannette Montgomery Barron for "a great Roman lunch or dinner".
Read about Jeannette on our Meet the Romans pages.


Art meets cuisine in this modern Rome restaurant housed in a 16th century palazzo. The work of contemporary artists is exhibited on the walls, changing regularly. The décor is clean and cheerful, with chairs upholstered in animal prints and fanciful light fixtures suspended from the ceiling. In the warm months, a terrace faces Santa Maria in Campo Marzio. The menu reflects what's fresh and in season. Owner Daniele Costantini prides himself on excellent versions of classic pastas such as amatriciana and cacio e pepe. The signature dishes also include duck breast with figs and port wine, spaghetti in pesto sauce with vongole veraci (sweet little clams) and salmon in a poppy and sesame seed crust. The desserts are nothing short of awesome. Try their twist on the classic tiramisù, with hot fudge sauce. The wine list is extensive, including more than 200 labels. €€
Piazza in Campo Marzio, 6 tel. 06.683 08626


Ristorante Il Falchetto
Antonio Francesco Donato hits the mark again!  His Antica Trattoria Due Colonne (see review above) has done so well that he decided to expand into a larger space and open a full-fledged ristorante around the corner.  Il Falchetto (the little falcon) is an historic address, having furnished spirits and delicacies to restaurateurs in the 19th century. Donato has ratcheted up everything in his new locale, except for the prices.  The atmosphere is a blend of the modern and traditional: stark white walls adorned with oversized, black-and-white photographs of the restaurant and its environs from the 19th and early 20th centuries; waiters in white jackets who deliver the most professional service; and jazz piped in at just the right volume. The fish and seafood, including the freshest oysters when in season, stand out, and any of the numerous Roman dishes won’t disappoint.  The buccatini all amatriciana and the lasagna are divine.  Outdoor service on an inviting terrace. Room for private parties of up to ten.
Due Colonne will soon have a new proprietor, so we advise you go there soon before it changes hands.  If you try either restaurant, please mention InRomeNow. 
Via di Montecatini, 12 (just off via del Corso near Piazza di San Ignazio) tel 066 791160


Romans Recommend:
Fortunato al Pantheon
Within steps of the Pantheon, a tradtional restaurant founded three decades ago by Fortunato Baldassarri. One of the few places in Rome with a fully sealed and separate smoking room. Home made desserts. Respectable wine cellar.
Via del Pantheon 55, tel 066 792788
Recommended by Yasmine Ergas "for politician-watching".
Read about Yasmine on our Meet the Romans pages.

Romans Recommend:
Achilli Enoteca al Parlamento
A very good upscale restaurant behind a venerable wine shop. Leather, wood, solicitous service, like a club dining room but smaller and with better food (all the latest gourmet treats, labels listed on the menu, a bit much, but the creative handling of familiar dishes is really very good). Instead of a wine list, you are invited to go into the shop and choose your bottle—at shop prices, no markup. At cocktail hour, before about 8 pm, you can stand at the bar, or sit at outdoor tables, for a glass of wine and gourmet tartines (e.g., teensy smoked salmon sandwiches).
Lunch and dinner, Tuesday through Saturday (Monday through Friday in summer).
Via dei Prefetti, 15,  tel 06 6873446
Recommended by Maureen B. Fant, ccokbook author, food writer, cooking teacher, tour guide. www.mareenbfant.com

Romans Recommend:

Excellent casual, attractive restaurant near the Pantheon. Love the setting and the food. Meatball heaven—the ones made of cheek meat are an antipasto served with a zucchini sauce; the ones in tomato sauce are a secondo, both divine. “Hamburger” of coda alla vaccinara is a neat hockey puck of boneless meat taken from the stewed oxtail, delicious and perfect if you don’t like wrestling vertebrae. The antipasto melanzane alla parmigiana (eggplant) is superlative and enough to share or order as your secondo. If you have been tempted to try tripe Roman style (and you should be tempted to try it at least once), this is the place: a small dose, in rich, voluptuous tomato sauce, is served on toast as an an antipasto. Followers of the burrata craze will order the excellent burrata served with marinated anchovies.
Piazza Rondanini 53, tel 06 6819 2096, www.ristorantegrano.it. Lunch and dinner every day. Outdoor tables.
Recommended by  Maureen B. Fant, ccokbook author, food writer, cooking teacher, tour guide. www.mareenbfant.com

Green T.

You’ll feel as welcome as an invited guest in this four-level complex, comprising a restaurant, tea house and boutique, where you can eat, drink and shop in an atmosphere designed according to the ancient concepts of Feng Shui. The proprietors, both ex-journalists, warmly greet their guests and engage in geo-cultural conversation while effortlessly explaining the execution and art of Chinese tea. At lunch, a selection of traditional Chinese box meals is reasonably priced, quick and delicious. At dinner, more time is needed to savor the exquisite cuisine of Hong Kong chef, Jimmy Yan, whose offerings derive from seven schools of Chinese gastronomy. We recommend any of the dishes in which duck is the protagonist, as well as the turtle soup with cat fish spine, shark fin soup, oysters prepared four different ways, fried medusa and raw tuna, rice flan with sweet salami from Xiang Chang, crunchy tagliolini with seafood and an array of Dian Xin (dim sum), dumplings ranging from salty to steamed to fried. For dessert, try the home-baked biscuits served with tea. Several dining areas are furnished with Chinese antiques, and a small garden is available for private events. The boutique on the lower level offers Chinese-inspired clothing, interesting teas, antiques, books and CDs. €€
Via Di Pie di Marmi, 28 tel. 06 679 8628 Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

This Rome restaurant in a former butcher shop has retained its white-tiled décor, and with the simple tables and chairs, it gives the feeling of eating in somebody’s kitchen, which seems the perfect setting for the homey Roman cuisine— classic Roman dishes like pasta cacio e pepe (cheese and freshly ground black pepper) spaghetti alla amatrciana (tomato sauce with guanciale, a salt pork taken from the cheek) or a simple pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil, roast lamb, osso bucco, spinach sautéed in a pan with fresh garlic and olive oil. The crowd here is Roman. The house wine is drinkable and the prices are low. €€
Piazza delle Coppelle, 44 tel. 06. 683 07895

It sounds Japanese, but the name, obika, is the Neapolitan dialect equivalent of the Italian eccolo qua, meaning "here it is!" And the restaurant is justly named, considering how long it’s taken to arrive. Andrea Corsetti opened the first eatery to acknowledge that great mozzarella di bufala can stand on its own. Attracting fashionisti, foodies and young Italian professionals on the move, Obika is a mozzarella bar with a Japanese-inspired setting, complete with sushi-style counter and a planked porch that reaches out to an active piazza. The lunch menu offers variations on a theme: cheeses from the three mozzarella-producing areas of Campania in the vicinity of Naples — Pontina, Caserta and Salerno — served with salad, salami, wild boar from Soranno or wrapped in salmon. Not the least of these choices is the irresistible mozzarella campagna served sliced with anchovies and capers. At night, the menu changes from quick lunch to sophisticated dinner with pasta dishes and a select list of Italian wines. €€
Via dei Prefetti, 26a tel. 06.683 2630 Closed Sunday

Now also open in Campo de'Fiori

Riccoli Cafe
A trendy favorite, with a chic movie set design in primary colors accented by glass and stainless steel, this Rome restaurant/café offers everything from morning coffee to late night drinks. The enclosed terrace, which accomdates the happy hour overflow from the bar, is also a tranquil spot for an afternoon snack or a pleasant lunch. Under the stewardship of chef and owner Massimo Riccioli (whose family is responsible for the elegant La Rosetta restaurant just a few meters away), the menu offers a cuisine concentrated on seafood that extends beyond national borders. The raw bar is stocked with oysters from morning till night; there’s a sushi list, an outstanding selection of cheese plates and some of the best salads in town. Entreès taste as good as they sound: taboulè with prawns, tomatoes and mint, cous cous with tuna, cuttle fish with artichokes. The homemade ice cream is a must. €€
Via delle Coppelle, 13 tel. 06.682 10313 Closed Sunday.
Open 10 am - 2 am.

Recently re-opened, the restaurant now boasts a new executive chef, TV cook Fabio Campoli, who is something of a celebrity in Italy. The structure of the restaurant remains unchanged. The design team of brothers Gianluigi and Marco Giammetta created a modern décor in an ancient building, constructed on two levels, with bar and wine cellar below and dining areas above, decorated in a mix of traditional and contemporary materials. €€€.
Via del Pozzo delle Cornachie, 2 tel. 06. 683 01427
Closed Sunday and at lunch.

Romans Recommend:

Renato e Luisa
Roman cuisine, personalized and taken to an extraordinary level. A traditional ambience, always packed with knowlegeable Romans and a few foreigners. They are justifiably famous for the homemade breads and bread sticks (grissini), their light and creamy stuffed zucchini flowers, their "praline" of soft goat cheese with nuts and honey. Don't miss the desserts, which are little works of art. Reservations essential. €€
Via dei Barbieri 25, (off Largo del Torre Argentina) tel 06 686 9660
Recommended by Nina Gardener. Read about Nina on our Meet the Romans pages.

In the shadow of the Pantheon, the recently opened Romilo attracts a well-dressed crowd of bureaucrats during workday lunch hours. But in the evenings, especially on the weekends, this lovely, elegant Rome restaurant is a quiet refuge for a long and pleasant dinner. Decorated in light woods and neutral tones, with large, colorful paintings on the walls, the atmosphere is sleek and modern without looking trendy. The menu follows along the same lines: interesting variations on classic dishes, but no tricks or cuteness. Roman specialities like pasta alla gricia or amatriciana are not missing from the menu. But there are also some wonderful variations. Try the veal with salsa alle nocciole e vino bianco (white wine and hazelnut sauce) or the gamberi in crosti di pan carré (shrimp in a bread crust) with a balsamic sauce. Every thing is beautifully presented, but the desserts are spectacularly decorated with spun sugar. The wine list is quite varied, with many excellent and expensive labels, as well as a number of affordable bottles. €€ person.
Via di Campo Marzio, 13 tel. 06.689 3499

Salotto 42
There are three restaurant/bars in the Piazza di Pietra, but this is our favorite because of its location, away from traffic in the middle of the square with a view of the Tempio di Adriano, which dates back to the first century BC. The place is terminally trendy — a flat screen with video projections over the bar, walls-lined with style-conscious books on the order of Andy Warhol and Lou Reed coffee-table numbers, comfortable, sixties-style couches. The wait staff is young and beautiful and full of attitude. It’s a pleasant stop for an aperitivo — there’s an appetizer buffet from 7:30 on. And in the mornings they serve a breakfast of coffees, fruit smoothies, quiche and baked goods. Or stop in late —the place stays open until 2 am — and have a stuffed baked potato, soup or salad or a dessert. One of the owners, a model, has added a sprinkling of items from her native Sweden to the menu. €€
Piazza di Pietra, 42 tel. 06.678 5804 Closed Monday.

Shari Vari

Newly re-opened on the site of the former Supper Club, and attracting an entusiastic crowd of Rome's young and chic set, the space, decorated with an oriental theme, offers high tea, followed by an apperitivi and snacks service, followed by dinner, followed by a very popular after-dinner cocktail and music of the "chillout" variety, jazz, house and disco. In short, Rome's formerly "so over it" dinner club has been transformed into Rome's newest hot spot.
Via di Torre Argentina 78 tel 393-336 4255.


Al Vicario
This Rome restaurant is a real find at lunch, when a big buffet is served and the prices are extremely reasonable. The setting is gorgeous, old world, with beautiful mosaic floors and stained glass windows. Just steps from the Piazza Montecitorio. Get there early before the crowds come in. Perfect for a relaxing break from shopping or museum hopping. €
Via degli Uffici del Vicario tel. 06.699 25530

New! Vinando

More a wine bar than a restaurant in the charming environs of the Piazza Margana, just behind Piazza Venezia, ffering 600 labels from their vast winecellar, fresh oysters, fois gras and menu of traditional Italian specialities for lunch and dinner. Open 10 am - 1 pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Piazza Margana 23, tel 06 6920 0741

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