Too often I read that there is nowhere to eat well in Rome’s Trastevere. That it’s only for tourists.
Well I for one, can vouch that I live and eat here and am not a tourist. And while there is a very large community of foreigners – in particular, a large contingent of American university students – there are many Romans who still cal Trastevere home and many more who choose to visit this lively quartiere to eat and drink.
So yes, while on any given day you’re bound to find tourists meandering their way through the narrow cobblestone streets (dotted with a large number of restaurants that Italians wouldn’t be caught dead in), if you know where to go, you can eat more than well around here.
Here’s my list of where to eat in Trastevere and what to order.
Via dei Vascellari 29
Because: This whole-in-the wall trattoria has a line out the door every night for a reason! Authentic roman cuisine at its simple best.
Order: The burrata, fiori di zucca (fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovy, carciofo alla guidea (Jewish-style fried artichoke), carbonara (or any pasta!), coda alla vaccinara (braised oxtail) and wild strawberry and marscarpone mousse.
Osteria Der Belli
Piazza di Sant’Appolonia 11
Because: You’d think that a restaurant sitting just off Trastevere’s main square (Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere) is a prime tourist-restaurant offender – wrong! Family-run, Leo and his team serve up Sardinian specialties, some roman classics and fresh fish.
Order: Seabass (spigola) carpaccio, ravioli, gnochetti sardi (small pasta that looks like gnocchi!), Fettuccine alla Sarda (creamy mushroom sauce), grilled calamari or scampi and any fresh fish of the day served al guazzetto (cooked in tomato and wine).
Spirito di Vino
Via dei Genovesi 31A
Because: They get the Slow Food tick of approval, the food matchings are divine and the wine selection (from the downstairs cellar that’s only 160 years older than the Colosseum) is extensive to say the least.
Order: The pork and apple dish – it’s apparently inspired by a recipe handed down through one of Julius Caesar’s chefs!
Vicolo de` Cinque 58
Because: Christina Bowerman is a two-Michelin star force to be reckoned with and the menu and wine list at Glass is world-class.
Order: The beef tartare, anything with truffle and leave room for dessert: their sugary creations are just about works of art.
Casual, Take-away or Pizza al Taglio
Pianostrada Laboratorio di Cucina
Vicolo del Cedro 26
Because: A female quartet operation is always going to produce quality! They produce the most delicious sandwiches with the freshest organic and homemade ingredients – all express and right before your eyes.
Order: The focaccia (which is left to levitate for hours) with whatever’s seasonal for a topping (from zucchini flowers, burrata and anchovies to fig jam and prosciutto!), the Bacca-burger (salt cod patty with rocket and homemade mayonnaise served in a black squid ink bun).
Via San Francesco a Ripa 140A
Because: Signor Roberto and his wife Anna are the cutest couple ever. He has been working here since he was a kid (for over 50 years!) and they stock a huge variety of cheese and more cheese and Saluki.
Order: Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, Bastardo del Veneto (a bastard mix of sheep and cow milk), fresh or even baker ricotta and corallina (typical salami from Norcia in Umbria).
Via San Francesco a Ripa 137
Because: This tiny (no, I mean tiny) take away place is a hive of activity all day long and serves up some of Rome’s best supplì (fried rice balls), takeaway pasta and old-style pizza by the slice (large slabs cooked on really low-edged pans).
Order: The marinara (tomato sauce, oregano and garlic) which is, in my opinion, hands-down the best in Rome! Supplì, gnocchi on Thursdays and fried baccalà (salt cod) on Fridays.
Via Natale del Grande 16
Because: The place is regarded by Trasteverini as having the best porchetta in the neighborhood!
Order: Porchetta of course! Because the locals know best and its delicious! Buy it by weight or you can have a panino made up on the spot.
Via di Santa Dorotea 2
Because: It’s on a lot of best pizza by the slice in Rome lists and for very good reason!
Order: The pumpkin pizza is a treat as is the pork sausage and broccoli.
Via San Francesco a Ripa 158
Because: Just because really. The pizza is good and I love their fried treats!
Order: The cacio e pepe supplì (pecorino and pepper) and La Gricia pizza inspired by the pasta dish, it’s topped with pecorino and guanciale (pork cheek). Sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen.. But you only live once right?
Viale di Trastevere 53
Because: It’s my favourite and I love it. Line up – it’s worth the wait ultram without prescription (and they turn over covers pretty quickly!). You’ll probably sit elbow to elbow with people you don’t know, the service is sketchy (but fun – when in Rome..) but the pizzas are classic Roman (thin and charred) and the atmosphere is electric.
Order: They’re famous for their supplì but I like the fried baccalà too! My pizza pic is mozzarella, zucchini flower and pork sausage.
Ci Lin (Chinese)
Via della Fonte dell’Olio 6
Because: This is one of the oldest Chinese restaurants in Rome and is one of the only ones where you don’t have to ring ahead to order Peking Duck!
Order: Peking duck which comes complete with your crepes and plum sauce and fried algae.
Take Sushi (Japanese)
Viale di Trastevere 4
Because: Considered one of the areas’ best Japanese restaurants, Take never disappoints!
Order: Sashimi and hand rolls are delicious, algae salad and gyoza dumplings are great to start.
Somo (Japanese fusion)
Via Goffredo Mameli 5
Because: If it’s an über modern venue and a different take on classic Japanese cuisine you’re after, this is your place.
Order: The tuna tartare, prawn tempura rolls and beef and radicchio fried rice.
Via San Francesco a Ripa 56
Because: If Indians are dining here, then it’s good for me!
Order: The butter naan, samosas, lentil curry and don’t forget the raita (fresh yoghurt sauce).
Via San Francesco a Ripa 103
Because: Authentic Greek in Rome is hard to find and this one’s a beauty.
Order: The eggplant fritters are to die for.. All the classic grill is great, as are the fried calamari.
Via Natale del Grande 49
Because: Signora Vera the owner is one of my favorite women in Rome! With her dry sense of humor, she’s a character alright! And the pastries are heavenly. When I moved to the area, locals told me this was the best pasticceria in Trastevere and they weren’t wrong!
Order: The mini custard cannoli, Mont Blanc (meringue with chestnut cream) and anything really! The frappè during carnevale are addictive as are the zeppole di San Giuseppe (custard-filled fried donuts made traditionally around Fathers Day in March).
Via della Luce 21
Because: It’s like taking a step back in time when you walk in! Stefania and her team are just beautiful – they make hundreds of types of biscotti in a 1950s vintage oven. Do yourself a favour!
Order: The brutti ma buoni (almost like an almond macaroon) and anything here with chocolate and / or jam gets my vote!
Via Luigi Santini 23
Because: French patisserie style cafes and bakeries aren’t the norm around here!
Order: Quiches with anything from broccoli and potato to pancetta and mozzarella (made fresh daily), assorted baguettes, mini lemon meringue pie and the takeaway vanilla butter shortbreads are amazing.
Via Roma Libera 11
Because: Regarded as the the gelateria that bought gourmet gelato Rome, here beyond the classics you’ll find adventurous flavour combinations like pear and Gorgonzola, chocolate tobacco, rose petals and black rice and whatever else is in season! It’s all organic and even the cones are gluten free. And at €2 for two scoops, it’s a bargain.
Order: Blueberry cheesecake, bacio del principe (hazelnut praline and toasted hazelnuts), pear and choc chip & in summer try: strawberry, watermelon and cantaloupe.
Fior di Luna
Via Della Lungharetta 96
Because: All the gelato is organic and homemade. There isn’t a huge selection because you’ll find only what’s fresh and in season.
Order: Crema (old style custard), choc Orange and cinnamon are my favourites.
Piazza in Piscinula
Because: The place has a laid back feel and is decked out in vintage style. At aperitivo time there’s a buffet and the menu is offered all day long.
Order: The tiramisu here is really, really good.
Happy eating and feel free to leave your tips in the comments!
Signing off from (none other than) Trastevere