pajata-rome

It is absurd to discuss something as elusive as the “best” trattoria in Rome. Judging food is by nature a subjective endeavor and many locals can’t help but be blinded by an intangible food-enhancing nostalgia. This phenomenon isn’t unique to Rome. We all romanticize food memories and forgive the foibles of our beloved establishments. Of course, trattorias don’t exist to serve flawless meals. Their role is to serve dependable comfort food at moderate prices. They get by on the charm or idiosyncrasies of their owners and on their convivial atmosphere. Regulars willingly overlook the habitually overcooked lamb or the watery cacio e pepe if the owner knows their name.

So does the perfect trattoria exist? Sadly, it does not. Even the “best” places like Cesare al Casaletto and Armando al Pantheon have their strengths and weaknesses. What I present to you is a list of my favorite places, those which serve great food, eschew laurel resting, and which I have judged without the hindrance of nostalgic delusion.

Armando Al Pantheon: The Gargioli family has been serving solid Roman classics since 1961.

Cesare al Casaletto: This neo-trattoria in the Portuense district excels at starters and primi and has a killer wine list.

Settimio Al Pellegrino: Teresa cooks up basic Roman dishes while husband Mario schmoozes and serves good food with bad wine.

Tanto Pe’ Magna’: Satisfying Roman soul food–and sometimes snails–in Garbatella.

Trattoria Dal Cavalier Gino: You won’t find a table on short notice at this institution near the Parliament that has been serving simple food to a loyal clientele since 1963.

Epilogue: Can everyone please stop saying nice things about Sora Margherita and Enoteca Corsi? The food is gross and hasn’t been edible in years. Basta! Also, the food at Da Oio A Casa Mia is an abomination.


View My Favorite Trattorias in Rome in a larger map

Explore related categories:
Food & Wine · Gastronomic Traditions · Rome & Lazio · Rome on a Budget

25 Comments:


  • Yessssss!!!!
    I love your Epilogue!


  • Yes. Yes…. YES!!!


  • Hey Katie, Wonderful memories of that fabulous lunch at Cesare al Casaletto, my new favorite in Rome, thanks to you. xA


  • Nice post but… I actually like Sora Margherita food


  • Cavalier is an adventure. But a tasty one!


  • Great epilogue. And so true about the role of the trattoria!!


  • I tackle the Roman trattoria probem by first deciding what I feel like eating. Then the trattoria choses itself.
    Carcofi alla Romana – da Michele, Fettucini alla Zenzaro – Trattoria Morgana …


  • For Settimio Al Pellegrino, do you mean bad house wine? bad wine list?

  • Katie

    awful awful house wine and barely a wine list. regulars bring their own wine, cork it at the end of the meal if there is any left and stash it in the fridge for the next visit.


  • Thanks for the great tips. Love your ‘bite’! Discovered your blog via the Guardian while in Rome for the WE. Too bad i didn’t had the time to explore it fully while there. Will do for next time.


  • love love Tanto pe Magna in Garbatella.. :-) love their maltagliati with porcini.. still have to try Armando & Da Teo – only heard good things!


  • Letizia Mattiacci from madonnadelpiatto.com in Assisi, Umbria recommended your blog after we left their amazing Umbrian hills w phenomenal food and headed for sightseeing in Rome. She took pity on us and knew we would never survive Rome w/o good food, so she shared your blog w us…Mille grazie!

  • Katie

    how kind of letizia to recommend my blog! have a great time in rome and let me know how your dining experiences are!


  • I strongly disagree with ms. Parla’s views on Enoteca Corsi. The food there is very good and the prices quite reasonable. And it’s much easier to squeeze in than to Armando’s or Gino’s. So, to reiterate: Enoteca Corsi IS GREAT!


  • Katie, while I love your blog and recommendations, I must respectfully disagree about Trattoria Dal Cavalier Gino. Yes, it’s clearly a local place with a lot of character…but it had *awful* food (in 2012). Cacio e pepe without flavor, mushrooms and peas that were clearly out of a can.

    Have you been there recently? Is it possible that we just got them on a bad day?

  • Katie

    off day i imagine! never have had the cacio e pepe so can’t comment on that!


  • Hi Katie,

    Your comments and descriptions about food are amazing. I am planning a trip to Rome with my wife and it seems like a daunting task to decide on restaurants. I was interested in seafood one evening and settled on La Gensola. a friend dined at Perilla a few years ago and loved it, although i am having second thoughts based on what I have read about how tourists are treated. I was curious about your thoughts. We are staying in the Villa Borghese neighborhood (at the Sofitel) and I was also wondering if you had any recommendations within, say a twenty minute walk for dinner or a place for special pizza. My wife is a lover of pasta but is not an adventurous eater when it comes to the heavier meat dishes and organ meats. Thanks so much for any thoughts.

  • Katie

    hey! perilli is not good. pass for sure. i have never had problems with the service but the food is just awful. i have lots of recommendations for pizza and all sorts of food on my app “Katie Parla’s Rome”


  • Katie, You are the best. I really appreciate a definitive response. I tried for Cesare al Casaletto but my hotel says they are closed for vacation on October 4th so I will be dining at Da Danilo on October 4 and lunch at Antico Arco on October 6. I can’t go wrong with you at my side. Grazie tante.


  • Hi! We will be traveling to Italy from December 6-21 and staying outside of Rome (about 12 miles) for the first week and just outside of Assisi for the second week. Being this trip is in December (and we are from Florida)…any recommendations on “must do” tours and information?


  • We stayed in Assisi for 10 days in July of this year and had a magnificent time getting to know the language, people and amazing food! We did day trips around Assisi to neighboring magnificent towns and ate like kings…we also did an amazing cooking lesson at Madonna del Piatto w Letizia incampagna.com She is an amazing person who has extensive knowledge of the region and can provide you w great restaurant recommendations, day trip ideas and much, much more than just pointing you to tourist areas. Have a fabulous journey!


  • You should try l’Idillio in Pigneto (via Dulceri). It’s off from the hipster Pigneto…nice place…good wine and amazing fettucine.


  • Always wanted to try Armando al Pantheon and will after reading this. Thanks.


  • WOW! So, Perilli is a bust?? what would you recommend for a Sunday Lunch in that area??

    I read with interest these places that are not friendly to tourists. We are not of the fanny pack variety, but definitely won’t fool anyone as to being tourists.

    Please, a NICE Sunday lunch option in the area! We are leaving in three days!!

    Many thanks, love your ‘to the point’ ap!

  • Katie

    Perilli is beyond mediocre. check out cesare al casaletto and download my app which has daily itineraries under Tours–>Katie’s suggestion

    https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/katie-parlas-rome/id475306005?mt=8

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