UPDATED FOR 2013: Every Sunday I run into the same predicament. I want to eat a really good meal out, but somehow during the week I’ve forgotten how tough it is to get a last minute table. Inevitably I scramble for reservations and try to accommodate my increasingly picky palate. Don’t make my habitual error; remember that tables at great dining venues are scarce on Sundays, so be sure to book ahead where possible (no bookings taken at 00100 and Pizzarium).
Open for Lunch & Dinner
Cesare al Casaletto (Portuense)
Via del Casaletto 45
Unbelievable fritti, solid Roman fare, and an excellent wine list make Cesare al Casaletto a favorite Sunday dining destination.
Via Giovanni Branca 88 (Testaccio)
Excellent suppli’ and trapizzini (triangles of fluffy pizza bianca filled with sauces that recall the cucina romana–tripe, tongue, oxtail, meatballs, or salt cod) make 00100 a great spot for a no-frills snack or meal. There is also pizza by the slice, but fill up on trapizzini instead. No reservations or table service.
Via Panama 2/4 (Parioli)
This elegant restaurant in posh Parioli serves excellent food inspired by the cuisine of Le Marche.
Via degli Specchi 6 (Centro Storico)
Open all day and late into the evening, this pub is perfect for a quick bite and a craft beer flight.
Via Evangelista Torricelli, 2/12 (Testaccio)
In Testaccio’s sea of mediocre restaurants, La Torricella stands out for its fresh fish and tasty primi.
Vicolo della Campana 18 (Centro Storico)
Reputedly Rome’s oldest restaurant, this historic venue serves traditional cucina romana, does a bustling Sunday lunch, and has an abundant antipasto bar.
Via del Portico d’Ottavia 16 (Ghetto)
This “Kosher style” restaurant in the Ghetto serves some of the best Jewish Roman cuisine in town (though, to be frank, the competition isn’t that fierce). In addition to the traditional local dishes (fried artichokes, fried vegetables, fried cod filets, fried zucchini flowers, anchovies with endive, and tagliolini with chicory and bottarga), there is also a selection of Middle Eastern specialities such as falafel, couscous and tuna with tahini.
Via Meloria 43 (Cipro)
Gabriele Bonci’s famed pizza by the slice joint serves some of the best pizza in town. Toppings change throughout the day and are made from top-notch products. Pizzarium also sells excellent bread and suppli’ (fried rice balls with various fillings). It is a mistake not to start with one. No reservations and no table service.
Food & Beverages (aka F&B and Hong Kong Food & Beverages)
Via Giolitti 105/113 (Termini)
Here, as in the other Chinese restaurants in Rome, the menu items which have been translated into Italian are bound to disappoint and indeed are not the ones you see Chinese families enjoying at the adjacent table. At F&B, ask to see the dishes displayed in the case at the back, things lik duck tongues, pork/chicken/prawn sticks deep fried to order, fried crab, and chicken feet. If you call ahead, they will prepare Peking duck.
Piazzale Aurelio 7 (Gianicolo)
Situated on the Janiculum Hill near Porta San Pancrazio, Antico Arco serves carefully prepared dishes that blend creativity with southern Italian ingredients.
Settimio al Pellegrino
Via del Pellegrino 117 (Centro Storico)
It helps to be a regular here, or prepared to be ignored in favor of those who are. The service can be slow and the food is simple, with a limited selection of first and second courses and contorni (vegetable side dishes). Somehow the montblanc makes up for the place’s shortcomings.
Open at Lunch Only
Beppe e I Suoi Formaggi
Via Santa Maria del Pianto 9a/11 (Ghetto)
This wine bar and gourmet food shop serves a lite far menu through late afternoon.
Pipero al Rex
Via Torino 149 (Esquilino)
If you are in the market for an epic Michelin star meal, this is the place.
Via degli Avignonesi 22 (Barberini)
This rather small family run restaurant serves some of the best fresh pasta in Rome. Bolognese specialties such tagliatelle alla bolognese tortelli di zucca, and lasagna al forno.
Via Monte de’ Cenci 9 (Ghetto)
This institution serves Roman Jewish cuisine and lots of offal, as well as land and sea inspired pasta dishes. Piperno is unfortunately past its prime and a bit overpriced, but it’s hard to beat the fritti (fried starters) and the outdoor seating in the summer is lovely.
Via San Vito 13 (Esquilino)
The Camerucci family, originally from Le Marche, serves food from their native region in this long established trattoria. Their starters (especially the sformatini) and pasta courses are their strong suits. Book well in advance.
Open at Dinner Only
La Gatta Mangiona
Via F. Ozanam 30/32 (Monteverde)
This pizzeria and trattoria in Monteverde serves excellent fried starters and pizzas. The beer list is extensive and there is an impressive selection of wine, whiskey and grappa.
Via Valle Corteno 31 (Nomentano)
Amazing fried starters, a great beer and wine list, and outstanding pizza. The definitive carb-driven Sunday dinner.
Vicolo del Cinque 58 (Trastevere)
Go for the tasting menu or pasta dishes at this one Michelin star restaurant in Trastevere.
Via Prenestina 118 (Pigneto)
Rome’s best Ethiopian restaurant (indeed one of the best in any genre) lies on the Via Prenestina, not far from the heart of Pigneto. The vegetarian dishes and doro wot are exceptional and the injera is perfect.
As always, here are a few places I dislike intensely, find overrated, and would discourage visiting for Sunday lunch, or any other meal for that matter: Pierluigi, Gusto, Da Giggetto, and Checco Er Carrettiere.