This outstanding restaurant has a long history: It first opened as a simple osteria at the end of the 19th century and has changed hands countless times. Chef Claudio Dordei and his wife, Irene, took over in 2005; they serve some of the freshest seafood in Rome, prepared with hard-to-find artisanal ingredients like saba (a sweet grape-must reduction) from Emilia-Romagna.
We loved: Barely cooked sea scallops drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar; pasta tossed with chunks of fresh tuna and pine nuts.
Anacleto Bleve and his wife, Tina, opened this enoteca in Rome’s Jewish ghetto 20 years ago, before expanding to the grander Casa Bleve near Piazza Navona. Their nephews Gino and Antonio Nutricato have since taken over La Vecchia Bottega del Vino, providing the same warm service, fair prices and always-excellent food that have made the place such a local favorite.
We loved: Carpaccio with slivers of porcini mushrooms.
Insider tip: Order like a regular and ask for the special meatballs.
A short walk from St. Peter’s Basilica in the Prati neighborhood, this old-fashioned spot features all the Roman classics (including the city’s best carciolfi alla Romana, or stuffed artichokes), served by old-world, white-jacketed waiters. The huge dining rooms look like they haven’t been touched since the ’60s.
We loved: Sautéed cernia (grouper) topped with bottarga; saltimbocca.
When star sommelier Luca Boccoli left Casa Bleve last year, he was quickly nabbed by this new restaurant, and many Bleve regulars followed him there. The softly lit dining room is mostly taken up by a counter loaded with cheeses, hams and salumi; the menu includes simple, expertly cooked fish and pastas, like pappardelle tossed with grouper.
We loved: Fillet of ricciolo (a Mediterranean fish) served on a bed of pureed zucchini and topped with fried zucchini strips.
The hokey checked tablecloths at Rome’s La Taverna dei Fori Imperiali might suggest the food is hokey too, but that’s misleading: Alessio Liberatore’s restaurant in a tangle of tiny streets is wonderful.
We loved: Fettuccine with prosciutto, pine nuts and sage.
Insider tip: Do as the locals do and order the specials.
It may be located on the other side of the Tiber from trendier Testaccio, but Ragu has been attracting a dedicated clientele since it opened in 2007. Part of the attraction is the light, fresh takes on old Roman favorites by Eritrean-born owner Zainesh Mebrahtu Birle; another part is the charm of her British-expat husband, Mike Harakis, who runs the modern, two-level dining room.
We loved: Pasta carbonara; grilled lamb chops; Bolognese served with freshly baked focaccia.
A forerunner of the “Zero Kilometro” or locavore movement in Rome, this spot in the hip Monti neighborhood offers a seasonally focused menu with dishes prepared with organic, locally sourced ingredients. The owners also run the nearby furniture shop Zoc, so all the mismatched tables and chairs, scattered over several loft-like rooms, are for sale.
We loved: Pumpkin-stuffed ravioli; vegetable “meatballs” in a yogurt-and-pecorino sauce.
Insider tip: The lunch buffet is a fantastic bargain at 8 euros.