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Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon
Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Places

A foodie’s guide to Rome

Italians take pride in their cuisine, but like in any destination city, there are places that focus more on your wallet than your palate. Here are seven options that prioritize the latter.

Italian with a twist

At first glance, Pianostrada’s menu appears classic enough, but each dish has been given a modern makeover. Burger buns, for example, are blackened with squid ink, and the ingredients in the mixed leaf salad we tried included swordfish-carpaccio and strawberries (a lucky combination). Located near Trastevere, this restaurant is relaxed and young in feel, yet its creatively elegant décor and considered menu make it worthy of a special occasion. It does get busy so make sure to book in advance.

Pianostrada

Via delle Zoccolette 22, Rome

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Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Hearty feast

Ristorante Porto prides itself on its fish & chips but it has a lot more going for it. Locals seek out this rustic eatery for its big plates of gnocchi and seafood, which whizz out of the kitchen at quite some speed, and the bountiful lunchtime buffet is another draw. Take a seat in the cozy subterranean vault or observe local life on the pavement tables. The restaurant is not far from the St. Peter’s Square, but manages not to feel touristy.

Ristorante Porto

Via Crescenzio 56, Rome

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Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Mama’s cooking

Caffe Lungara 1940 might look like a modern affair, but don’t be fooled by its starkly minimalist décor – this Trastevere eatery started trading decades ago (though at a different address), serving traditional Italian fare. On our last visit, we struggled to choose between classics such as stuffed tomatoes and lasagna in different guises, made with ultra thin sheets of pasta. Portions aren’t enormous, but neither are prices. This is a cozy place for an evening drink, too.

Caffe Lungara 1940

Via della Lungara 14, Rome

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Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Chic and healthy

Something of an institution, Ginger prides itself on serving healthy, Mediterranean food, of which most is organic. The seasonally changing menu is studded with salads and vitamin-rich smoothies, but there are also more indulgent treats such as “gourmet sandwiches” deep-filled with Italian charcuterie and cheese. The original version of this bright, elegant restaurant is located moments from the Spanish Steps and there’s also a branch at Piazza Sant'Eustachio.

Ginger

Via Borgognona 43-46, Rome

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Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

Pasta pronto

With queues to rival that of the Sistine Chapel (well, almost), Pastifico Guerra opens its doors promptly at 1pm (closes at 9pm) to dish out a daily choice of two types of homemade pasta, priced €4, including a drink (water or a cup of wine if you’re lucky). Customers are a mix of locals and folk working in the area, plus a fair number of tourists hoping to eat their pasta on the Spanish Steps – alas, this is not allowed.

Pastifico Guerra

Fresh and fruity

Fratelli de Luca Salad & Juice is a modest affair with just a few seats, but it’s a good option for those wanting a fresh vitamin-kick after exploring the Vatican area. Located a couple of blocks from St Peter’s Place, this modern-style snack bar whizzes up fresh fruit juices and salads for you to take away or eat within its intimate setting.

Fratelli de Luca Salad & Juice bar

Via Silla 38, Rome

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Photo: Emma Holmqvist Deacon

A scoop above

Rome’s gelato scene has upped its game – serving just OK ice cream is no longer enough, at least not at Come Il Latte. Founded in 2012, this indie establishment served us the best gelato we were fortunate to try on our last Rome visit (tip: try the nut varieties!). The décor is so utilitarian it appears almost lab-like, but once inside you’ll soon discover that the quality of the gelato is the main concern here. If you can’t get to this end of town, Venchi and Gracchi are very good, too.

Come Il Latte

Via Silvio Spaventa 24-26, Rome

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Last edited: July 17, 2018

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