The default choice for stylish Romans out and about in the Centro, this conglomerate of hip restaurants has something for all tastes and budgets—even an emporium with cool kitchen gadgets. The ristorante is the most expensive and ambitious but least consistent member of the complex. Skip it and make your way to the less formal pizzeria (a lively spot with soaring ceilings and exposed ducts) or the cozy wine bar, where there are different offerings of wine by the glass each night, an extensive menu of crostini and small plates, and often live music. Around the back (enter on Via della Frezza) is chic Osteria della Frezza, a 1930’s-style parlor that’s great for cheese plates and tapas-size cicchetti of pastas and meat dishes. Just opened in late 2007 is ’Gusto al 28, a trattoria specializing in seafood and vegetables (across the square at Piazza Augusto Imperatore 28). ’Gusto’s setting is one of the best examples of old-meets-new in Rome: it occupies icy fascist-era palazzi, overlooks the ancient Mausoleum of Augustus, and stands in the shadow of the new Richard Meier-designed Ara Pacis museum enclosure.
Insider Tip: The pizzeria has excellent hamburgers, fries, and onion rings—making it a valid alternative to McDonald’s and the Hard Rock Cafe for kids and Americans in need of familiar fare.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.