The Eternal City is filled with trattorias and corner cafes that will make all your pasta and wine related dreams come true! However, in a city this busy and tourist laden, it can be hard to tap into the true local gems. Here are three options that will give you a taste of authentic Roman home cooking and have you drinking wine or limoncello with the locals in no time.
This is a small wine bar and restaurant run by a family that just opened up in May of 2021 that has clearly already been embraced as THE neighborhood hangout. We rerouted our evening plans to include a stop here because I just sensed this great energy passing by! The dad is the chef, daughters run the business, and all three seemed to greet everyone passing their open storefront along Via dei Coronarie- I actually thought the dad was a customer for the first 30 minutes as he was so casually hugging and kissing and chatting with people at multiple tables around us on their outdoor patio.
There is no set menu- the family lives on a farm in the Roman suburbs and makes daily dishes according to what is in season and available. There are about 5 mains in addition to a selection of sandwiches and snacks and charcuterie. I ordered the eggplant pamiggiano (I mean, they picked the eggplant from the vine that morning!), my husband ordered the meatballs- and both of us savored every bite. Seriously, that eggplant Parmesan just melted in my mouth and probably ruined all others for me. Both of our dishes were 8 euros and glasses of wine hovered around 6 euros.
We ended up here after following handwritten notes from our hotel concierge on “how to try the best pasta in the city!” Tony’s is where he took his Roman girlfriend on date nights, and as such we made it there and got the royal treatment from the owner himself. Hilariously, Tony told us we would not get to meet Andrea (his son) because he is too busy “being lazy with his girlfriend.”
You can opt to east inside (and probably meet more locals that way), or outside in the string light patio in the middle of Piazza di Renzi. This tavernetta is located in the middle of the beautiful and popular Trastevere neighborhood, so be prepared for a little wait. This meal was the spaghetti carbonara that has since ruined all other carbonaras for my pasta-loving husband, but the best part for me was throwing back some complimentary limoncello shots with Tony (and one of his other, “less lazy” sons) following the meal.
Trattoria da Tonino
This has been a local neighborhood trattoria since 1936 that is still serving up classic Roman dishes without frills. Tucked in a quiet corner of an otherwise busy neighborhood, you won’t see a menu posted out front, nor pictures of the food or fake plates. The waitstaff (2 people) spoke only Italian, and everyone sitting in their small outdoor terrace was doing the same- including the two older Italian men next to us talking softly while finishing their third bottle of wine… I guess all the pasta soaked it up?
Their menu offers 8-10 classic pasta dishes (opted for the spaghetti caccio e pepe and carbonara, and all cost 8 euros for a heaping plate. There are a similar number of secondi (main) dishes (think stewed rabbit and roasted chicken) for 12 euros. English translations were included on the menu and came in handy here.
Make sure to order a liter of house wine (vino della casa rossa or bianca)- 5 euros for a ½ liter, 10 euros for a whole. Probably the best house wine I had while visiting Rome, and trust me, I did not take the task of sampling them lightly!
These last 2 options are not as central, but an easy Uber or tram bus ride from ay of the Roman sites. The reward for your trek will be eating local fare with the Romans at an excellent price. Due to local popularity, I recommend making reservations for either.