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Italian Food Pro Sophie Minchilli Shares Her Must-Visit Roman Restaurants

Writer and travel guide Sophie Minchilli — author of Eating Rome and nine more Italian-focused, food-centric books — knows a thing or two about authentic Italian cuisine. She’s been leading food tours across Italy for eight years now, working alongside her mom (in the classic Italian tradition). Together, the duo ferry groups of food lovers all over the country for week-long culinary deep dives, from Rome to Sicily to Umbria to Puglia.

Minchilli’s most recent book, The Sweetness of Doing Nothing: Living Life the Italian Way with Dolce Far Niente, offers an insider’s look at the rituals that make up day-to-day life in Italy — from a traditional Sunday lunch and the right way to drink coffee to summers spent at the beach. To mark the release, we asked Minchilli to share her guide to the best restaurants in her home city of Rome, where her expertise is unparalleled.

Rome Food Guide
Sophie Minchilli

“I’ve included a mixture of traditional restaurants and some more ‘modern’ ones,” she tells us. “Even though Roman cuisine will always be defined by a very specific set of ingredients and recipes — like cacio e pepe, amatriciana, carbonara — there are some newer ‘trattorias’ and street food shops that have managed to stay faithful to traditional recipes and ingredients while elevating them and adapting them to our generation. I’ve also included a gelato shop, a takeaway pizza place, and a natural wine bar. Street food has always been very important in Rome, and there are some great new places that should be on your list whenever you visit Rome next.”

Cesare al Casaletto

Rome Food Guide
Cesare al Casaletto

Set in a working-class neighborhood outside the historic center, Cesare serves all the Roman classics, some of them including his own twist, like the fried gnocchi served on a bed of cacio e pepe sauce. They also serve fresh seafood dishes. If you are not in the mood for meat but if you are in the mood for some Roman classics, their cacio e pepe and amatriciana are to die for!

After lunch, take a walk in the nearby Villa Pamphili, a breathtaking public park filled with locals.

Otaleg

The rule in Rome is to have three gelatos a day, and this should be one of them! Otaleg finally opened its first shop in Rome’s historic center (Trastevere), which makes it extra easy to stop by for a cone or cup of their artisanal gelato. The flavors change daily based on seasonality and ingredient availability, which is always a great sign!

If you are feeling extra adventurous, they sometimes feature ‘strange’ savory flavors like gorgonzola and tomatoes.

L’elementare

Pizza is like a religion in Rome. Just like pasta, Romans are very picky with their pizza and like it a specific way, which usually means thin, crispy, and with the right amount of toppings. L’elementare is a fairly new opening in Rome and has quickly become one of my favorites. The first rule of eating pizza in Rome: start with a mixture of fried things like supplì (fried rice ball) and fried lasagna — yes, this place makes fried lasagna!

Flavio al Velavevodetto

Whenever I have friends visiting in Rome, this is the first place I take them to because it never disappoints. Flavio is a classic Roman trattoria and this is the place where you should order all four of the Holy Roman pastas to share: amatriciana, carbonara, cacio e pepe, and gricia. Flavio is also known for his ‘trippa alla Romana’: tripe stewed in tomato sauce with fresh mint and lots of grated pecorinos.

Trecca Cucina di Mercato

Rome Food Guide
Trecca Cucina di Mercato

This is one of the newer restaurants in Rome, where two brothers in their 30s decided to cook the traditional recipes taught to them by their mother and grandma but elevate the dishes with high-quality ingredients and technique. They often have offal on their menu, so if you’ve been curious to try some of these dishes, this is the place to go.

Al Pompiere

Rome Food Guide
Al Pompiere

Sunday lunch has always been a big deal for Italians, and this is my favorite place to do so. It’s had the same waiters since I was a baby, same menu, and same décor. It just feels like home. Because it’s located on the second floor of a building in the Jewish ghetto, it makes it a little hard to spot, which means little to no tourists!

Try their creamy tagliolini al limone and carciofo alla giudea (deep-fried artichoke), and say hello to Mauro the waiter for me!

Casa Manco

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If there is another thing Romans are obsessed with, it’s pizza al taglio, which literally translates to pizza by the cut. This kind of pizza is sold by weight, so you point out how much you want of each kind, they weigh it, you pay, and then eat it. Their crust is one of the best I’ve ever had in my life, and their toppings are always unusual (in a good way), seasonal and fresh. My favorite is the one with zucchini blossoms, stracciatella, and anchovies

Enoteca L’Antidoto

Natural wines have become hugely popular in Rome, and I am very thankful for it. A tiny bar in the middle of Trastevere, l’Antidoto is everything you could wish for: very few tables, natural wines from all over the world, and of course a delicious food menu that changes all the time. The staff is very nice and helpful, I often come here and completely lose any concept of time, it just feels like hanging out at your friend’s place.

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