To us, no trip to Rome is complete without having dinner in Trastevere. The name – which means across the Tevere, as the Tiber river is known in Italian – refers to the location. But it’s more a state of mind.
Not that long ago, few tourists ventured here. But today, Trastevere is a popular destination for many visitors to Rome.
If you’re looking for unpretentious Roman food, Trastevere restaurants are a great choice. The neighborhood is charming, and prices in most restaurants are reasonable. Don’t come looking for haute cuisine. But you can expect a fun night out with good food, good wine, and typically Roman surroundings.
Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere is the heart of the neighborhood, and you should stroll down there after dinner for the atmosphere. But you’ll likely have a better meal if you stray a little further afield.
Specializing in Roman food and the cuisine of Naples, Alle Fratte di Trastevere is the place to come for baby octopus, prawns with ginger and thyme, or tagliolini with lobster. But you can also get a good tagliatelle carbonara. The restaurant is decorated with trompe l’oeils frescoes of Roman life. And service is friendly and warm.
When you’re craving pizza, do as the Romans and head for Dar Poeta. Unlike a lot of Roman pizzerias, they make both thick and thin-crust pizzas, and they use a secret flour mix that makes their crust especially good. The owners aren’t content with the usual fare. They cook up pizzas with salmon, zucchini flowers, and swordfish carpaccio in the wood-burning oven. And dessert calzones – filled with Nutella and mascarpone or ricotta – are must haves.
One of the best wine bars in Rome, Ferrara also serves meals as well as tapas-style appetizers in the upstairs bar. The selection of 350 wines is terrific, and dishes like squid with tea-smoked tomatoes and spaghettini with sea urchins keep diners coming back. Housed in a 17th-century convent on Piazza Trilussa, the atmosphere is romantic but hip. For wine lovers, this is one of the most enjoyable restaurants in Rome. There’s some seating on an outdoor patio.
Run by an American chef, Glass Hostaria is located in a building that’s won awards for its modern design, something of a novelty in this neighborhood. Chef Cristina Bowerman has created a menu that features traditional dishes like pigeon and scallops and updated interpretations like white truffle crème brulee. The ingredients she uses are impeccably fresh, and she makes the most of what’s in the market. More than 600 selections of wine are available.
For Tuscan cooking, Il Ciak is the best restaurant in Trastevere. Serving game, dishes rich with mushrooms or truffles, and the superb chianina beef, Il Ciak makes a terrific bistecca alla fiorentina. Pasta takes a backseat here to polenta and roasted vegetables. If you love wine from Tuscany, you’ll be spoiled for choice here. This is one of the best Rome restaurants for Tuscan food.
Rivadestra, which means “right bank,” is similar in feeling to bistros in the Saint-Germain-des-Pres neighborhood in Paris. Pasta with shrimp and beans, tuna fillet with peppers, and beef with escarole are typical dishes.
As the name implies, Spirito di Vino has a great selection of wine, and hearty, traditional cooking in a warm atmosphere. You might start your meal with Roman-style artichokes or soup with salt cod and then move on to farfalle with pumpkin, gorgonzola and pistachio or fettuccine with black truffles. Veal goulash, pork fillet, and tripe are excellent second courses.
More expensive than most of the restaurants in Trastevere, Alberto Ciarla is in a building that dates from 1890. Come here for fresh seafood and shellfish, which you’ll see on ice when you enter. Spaghettti vongole, sea bass, and pasta with beans and seafood are the stars here. And the fritto misto is wonderful.
At Asinocotto, chef Giuliano Brenna has developed an ambitious menu where you might find quail, smoked sturgeon, or guinea fowl on the menu. With its dark, wooden beams and low lighting, it’s a cozy spot with good service. Start your meal with wild boar terrine or shrimp and bacon on creamed peas.
Several years ago, we were walking down Via della Lungaretta and saw a cute place with a blackboard out front that said “We are against the war and the tourist menu.” Since we’re not fans of either, we figured we’d give Aristocampo a shot, and it was great. Just what you expect of a Roman trattoria – checkered tablecloths and all. There were plenty of Romans enjoying pasta amatriciana, veal loin, and spaghetti with clams. You can dine inside or at one of the tables on the sidewalk. Their Campo di Fiore location has great Panini to go.
Find more restaurants in Rome.
1) Alle Fratte di Trastevere
2) Dar Poeta
3) Enoteca Ferrara
4) Glass Hosteria
5) Il Ciak
7) Spirito di Vino
8) Alberto Ciarla