HeartRome

My life and times in the eternal city and beyond

A Quick Guide on where to eat, drink & be happy in Rome’s Testaccio

Touted the “heart of Rome” when Romans talk about food (and they do a lot!), Testaccio is a gentrified, old working-class neighbourhood situated literally just outside of the historical centre. Located on the banks of the Tiber, right by what was Rome’s Port of the Ripa Grande, it’s no accident that this quartiere knows how to eat. Historically, this is where much of the food used to arrive into town and Testaccio also remains the site of the former largest abattoir in Europe. In a sense, it’s the birthplace of cucina romana – the real one, which means anything from tripe to tongue to pan fried lungs and spleenand with a high concentration of authentic and even family-run places that you’re truly spoiled for choice (not to mention some cool new places too!)

With a pyramid, a contemporary art museum, a large fresh food market and – again – tons of restaurants and food outlets, it’s also a great area if you’re visiting Rome and it’s truly that “local” stay feeling you’ve been looking for.

Romeo

Brainchild of Cristina Bowerman – the only female chef in Rome with a Michelin star under her belt, the complex Romeo sits in is the largest dining space in Rome. Come here for the excellent cocktails and stay for the food – an eclectic and contemporary mix of starters, pasta and main courses. (Piazza dell’Emporio 28 | Website)

Giulietta

Romeo’s pizza partner, here you can don’t have to decide if Roman or Neapolitan pizza is your thing – they offer both. And with gourmet seasonal toppings you won’t be disappointed. Try the fritti to start – my favorite is the zeppola (savoury donut) with honey and lard. (Piazza dell’Emporio 28 | Website)

Frigo

The third in the Romeo / Giulietta Bowerman hat trick is their gelateria. Artisanal, real-deal gelato – it’s going to be my go-to to cool down this summer. (Piazza dell’Emporio 28 | Website)

Flavio al Velavevodetto

For me this is a fail-proof authentic roman feed. I love their carbonara, polpette di bollito (crumbed and fried broiled meatballs) and the tiramisù with a decadent chocolate centre. Built into Monte Testaccio – basically a mound of amphorae (pieces from terra-cotta pots used to transport foods and liquids during the Roman Empire) – it’s also a very unique place to dine in Rome. (Via di Monte Testaccio 97 | Website)

Barberini

Stop in to this bar / Pasticceria for a coffee, juice or hot chocolate and don’t leave without some sweet treats. Anything with cream or custard always ends up on the bill for me and their famous tiramisù in a tiny chocolate coffee cup is a hit too. They’ve been here since the 1920s so they kinda know what they’re doing! (Via Marmorata 41 | Website)

Oasi della Birra

Casual, usually packed and lots of beer this pub-like venue puts on a really extensive aperitivo buffet and their menu for dinner or snacks is homely with local and seasonal dishes (I love their cheese boards and lardo too!). Given the name, the beer variety is quality, but a good selection of wine is also on offer. (Piazza Testaccio 38 | Website)

Testaccio Market

The undercover structure that is Testaccio Market has quietly turned into a gourmet corner of the city. There’s a seating area if you want a sit down lunch, otherwise take your pick from the bakeries and other outlets and graze your way through. Mordi e Vai make the best sandwiches – hands down – in the city. (Via Beniamino Franklin | Website)

Trapizzino

Stefano Callegari’s stuffed pizza bianca is one of my favourite things – not about Rome, but life! The pollo alla cacciatora (wine braised chicken) and doppio panna (creamy straciatella topped with anchovies) are my picks. You can pair them with a craft beer. (Via Giovanni Branca 88 | Website)

Agustarello

Inside or garden seating, Da Augusto is just wholesome and simple Roman cooking. I do love their gnocchi on a Thursday (the traditional day to eat them in Rome) and they make a very good cacio e pepe too. Everything else from tripe to seasonal fava beans are on the menu here too. (Via Giovanni Branca 100 | Website)

Da Remo

For me (and many Romans), Da Remo is the best pizzeria in Rome. It’s not flashy or gourmet. It’s you classic neighbourhood pizzeria with abrupt but friendly, loud Roman service. I’m not usually a margherita girl but I can’t go past theirs. Their fritti (fried starters) are as good as anywhere and they make a mean parmigiana di melanzane (eggplant parmigiana). (Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44 | Ph: ‭06 57462 70‬)

Taverna Volpetti

Located where the Volpetti Più tavola calda (cafeteria style lunch place) used to be, this bistrot is opened at lunch and dinner and a good option for a pre-dinner snack and wine too. They have a large selection of cheese and salumi and menu of seasonal as well as classic pasta and main courses. (Via Alessandro Volta 8| Website)

Giolitti

This is the only Giolitti in the city that’s for me. (There is one in the centre, by the Pantheon that caters only for tourists). The bar hasn’t changed since it opened in 1914! They have the oldest cream whipping machine in town and so it’s the only place I eat my gelato (usually coffee and hazelnut or pistacchio) con panna. (Via Amerigo Vespucci 35 | Website)

Tram Depot

As if a Melbourne girl wouldn’t fall in love with a vintage tram box turned coffee cart slash bar! These guys took over the corner of Via Marmorata and Via Galvani and literally set up camp with a few outdoor seats. It’s grown in popularity over the past couple of years and is only open in the warmer months. Great for coffee and snacks, I come for the cocktails. (Via Marmorata 13 | Website)

Chechino dal 1887

Known as an offal-specialist, this historic trattoria (yep – since 1887!) serves up some of Rome’s best. So if you want to try pasta with pajata (pan fried baby calf intestines cooked in a tomato sauce) classic Roman-style tripe, tongue, coratella (pan fried lung, liver, spleen etc) then this is the place for you. (Via di Monte Testaccio 30 | Website)

Masto

For when you’re feeling like a glass of wine and tagliere (cheese / charcuterie board), Masto – a hole-in-wall bistro on Via Galvani is just the place. With a great selection of cold meats and cheeses, it’s great for an aperitivo or after dinner drink, dinner is also an option with dishes of the day ranging from meatballs to risotto. (Via Galvani 39 | Website)

La Torricella

Step back in time at this old-school trattoria run by an Abruzzese family for decades. All the roman classics are on the menu, but I come here to eat fish. Their spaghetti with lobster isn’t fancy – it’s just divine, hearty fare. They have outside seating on a quiet Testaccio street and are open all year round. (Via Evangelista Torricelli 2/12 | Website)

Da Bucatino

Far from refined, Da Bucatino hasn’t changed it’s decor since it opened. Their trademark dish is bucatini all’amatriciana. There are plenty of other places in Rome that serve up a superior one, but for the show – you get to wear a bib, because twirling bucatini on your fork is supposed to be messy – it’s worth it at least once in a lifetime. (Via Luca della Robbia 84 | Website)

Buon appetito!

Signing off from Trastevere,

Baci Maria

7

Leave A Comment