Visiting Rome in January was a treat. It was off-peak season so invariably there were less tourists around, it wasn’t sticky hot like it is in the summer and you can still eat outside everyday as long as you have a coat. This might not seem important but it’s the little things that make a good holiday, great! Rather than writing about the must see sights of Rome, as there are many travel guides out there that do just that, I thought I’d share some of the hidden treasures I found walking the cobbled streets including restaurant recommendations from local friends. These are totally worth a visit if you can find time during your stay.
Dar Poeta Pizzeria, Trastevere
Vicolo del Bologna 45, Trastevere
I can honestly say this was the best pizza I ate during my visit to Rome. Most probably because I ate here a couple of times (don’t judge, there was just too much choice to not go back!) but seriously, it does live up to expectations. Dar Poeta is a cosy restaurant hidden off the main streets of Trastevere, a district full of local produce and tradition, and is regularly visited by locals and tourists seeking unique pizza. The menu is full of really interesting flavours. I opted for the ‘Dar Poeta’ which was mozzarella, zucchini, ciauscolo salami, garlic and hot pepper. I’d forgotten what REAL Italian pizza tastes like! If you do go here, make sure you order a ‘Suppli’ to start with and you won’t regret it.
Via Labicana, 125 – 00184 Roma
This five star restaurant came as a recommendation from an Italian friend who grew up in Rome. Known for its’ breathtaking views of Ancient Rome and a Michelin Star for it’s consistently high standard food and service, this is a special treat. Executive Chef Giuseppe Di Lorio uses top quality fresh ingredients to create distinct flavours, evolving the traditional Mediterranean cuisine. I booked in for lunch as I couldn’t bring myself to miss out on what this restaurant has to offer. I made my way up to the rooftop where I was greeted by the host and shown to my table overlooking the Colosseum. Perfect. I chose a lovely glass of white wine from the wine list (which was in fact a book) and decided on the Ravioli with oxtail stew on a fondue of Parmesan cheese and smoked apple as my main. The presentation of the dish was beautifully done and the flavour was just incredible. After lunch, I enjoyed my wine whilst watching the sun shine over the city and tucked into some delicious petit fours. Whether it’s an anniversary, special occasion or you just fancy treating yourself to some good quality food like I did, then this is a go-to destination. Do make sure you book in advance for this one as it gets booked up quickly, especially in the evenings. Buon Appetito!
P.zza del Teatro di Pompeo 20 00186, Rome
Tiramisu Zum is essentially a cafe open until 11:30pm, selling tiramisu in all sorts of forms building on the classic. By this I mean there is tiramisu flavoured ice cream, biscuits, cake, cookies and drinks. With tiramisu on my mind, I decided to take a late night stroll to see what Zum had to offer. As one of my favourite sweets, I was hoping the walk was worth it. It totally was. The texture, flavour and sponginess all made for the perfect pot. You could choose the classic, or flavours such as Rum infused, forest fruits and pistacchio. Some really interesting combinations that if I had gone back, I would’ve tried. If you like Tiramisu then you should definitely find time to get here.
Sant’Eustachio il caffe
Piazza Sant’Eustachio, 82 00186 Rome, Italy
For all the coffee lovers out there, Sant’Eustachio il caffe is said to serve the best coffee in Rome. Founded in 1935, it’s been running for decades and continues to be a local destination. You can drink your coffee at the bar inside, or find a table and sit in the sun watching the passers by. If you like what you taste, they even sell a range of coffee beans, cups and saucers and other little treats. This is a coffee shop worth visiting.
Panella L’arte Del Pane
Via Merulana 54 (zona Esquilino) 00185 Roma, Italy
This is an impressive bakery worth seeing. Spoilt for choice, you will find flavours from around the world weaved into classic breakfast pastries, tarts, cakes, a vast array of freshly baked breads and not forgetting the pizza and sandwiches. If I lived locally I think i’d be here every morning! I certainly saw the locals rolling in and out with their orders to takeaway. They have a lovely terrace with seating outside so that you can enjoy your breakfast, or lunch, in the sun with a nice coffee or fruit juice before continuing with your day.
Piazzale Napoleone 1, 00197 Roma RM, Italy
Villa Borghese is one of the largest parks in Rome full of buildings, museums and attractions. I know the title of this blog is a ‘foodies guide’ but I just couldn’t leave this off my list. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, this park is the place to be. It’s hard to imagine stepping off the busy Piazza di Spagna into somewhere so tranquil, but that’s exactly how it feels. I had a beautiful morning walk around the park in the sun discovering lakes, vibrant gardens, their own Shakespeare’s Globe and the impressive Galleria Borghese. If you do fancy enjoying a glass of wine or bite to eat in the sun then Casina Valadier is your place. This was honestly a magical day and if you visit I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Vicolo del Bottino, 8 – 00187 Rome, Italy
I stumbled upon this fantastic rooftop bar when I was leaving Villa Borghese and heading back down towards Piazza di Spagna. If you walk to the top of the Spanish Steps the entrance to the bar and restaurant is on the left hand side. You have to walk over a wooden walkway and then you’ll be greeted by the waiter to be seated, provided there’s a table available. The views are just stunning. You feel as though you’re in and amongst the buzz of the steps, yet also in your own little bubble up on the rooftop. I ended up sitting there all afternoon in the sun, sipping Aperol Spritz and reading my book whilst others ordered a late lunch. I’d recommend this for a mid-afternoon/early evening aperitif, as the sun is setting for the best atmosphere.
So there you have it, my top 7 must visit places when in Rome. This is by no means an exhaustive list as I am sure there are hundreds of restaurants, bars and cafes that I’ve not yet come to know about, but these were my favourites that I think are worth sharing. If you haven’t been already, you need to get yourself to Rome!