Anyone weary from traipsing the cobblestones in the Centro Storico will love this innovative and relaxed bilevel restaurant, where you can drop in for a breather and a bite (and AC) almost any time of day. During lunch (11:30 a.m.–3 p.m.) you can get an unlimited buffet of savory dishes—mushroom risotto, asparagus frittata, and roast pork, to name a few—for around $15. At aperitivo time (happy hour), a fresh new spread is laid on the buffet, and you can eat as much as you like for the price of a drink. Dinner is a grown-up à la carte menu; try the swordfish carpaccio with toasted almonds for an antipasto and the sliced tuna steak with caponata for your secondo. Clientele is solidly Roman (and the well-dressed, devastatingly good-looking variety, at that). At lunch, sit at the raised communal table in the middle of the room; at happy hour, sink into one of the leather armchairs; at dinner, snag a table on the mezzanine overlooking the buzzy scene downstairs.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.