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If money’s no object, or you’ve been saving all year, then there are various blow-out options.
Foremost is La Pergola (Via Alberto Cadlolo), found high up Monte Mario hill in the Rome Cavalieri hotel. In the city’s sole three-Michelin-star venue, Chef Heinz Beck’s theatrical creations vie for attention with enchanting views.
True gastronomic joy comes from procuring gourmet food at non-gourmet prices.
Monti’s L’Asino d’Oro (Via del Boschetto) enables this pleasure, with the €12 pranzetto (little lunch) comprising soup, two courses, vegetables, dessert and a glass of wine.
Almost as much of a bargain is the retro-style L’Arcangelo (Via Giuseppe Gioacchino Belli), delivering a funked-up version of Rome’s original trattoria experience. After your seared pigeon, sip free, homemade Vov – zabaglione liqueur – over sweet biscuits. At lunch, three courses are just €25.
So, what are the classic Roman dishes? One is bruschetta, a hugely popular aperitif consisting of grilled bread topped with garlic, olive oil and salt. It’s best enjoyed in wine bars such as Trastevere’s VinAllegro (Piazza Giuditta Tavani Arquati).
So too are Roman artichokes, now given protected-origin status by the European Union. Have them fried, stewed or steamed, but only in their season of February to May.
Bucatini all'Amatriciana is pasta soaked in Rome’s legendary ‘red sauce’ of tomatoes, salami, white wine and grated pecorino. Local foodies happily ride the Linea 8 tram out to its terminus in quiet Monteverde Vecchio district just so they can enjoy the dish being perfectly demonstrated at Cesare al Casaletto (Via del Casaletto). Others opt for saltimbocca – fried wraps of tender veal, prosciutto and sage, marinated in white wine.
Alternatively, make a beeline for Rome’s oldest restaurant. Open since 1518, La Campana (Vicolo della Campana) is as old-fashioned and as ultra-traditional as you might well expect it to be. Whether you choose spaghetti, rack of lamb or tagliolini with fresh anchovies, make sure to top it off with their famously-good tiramisù.
Rome has a panoply of pizzerias, making it hard for any to stand out.
The classic is Da Francesco (Piazza del Fico), set just a few cobbles away from Piazza Navona, while the insider choice is Bonci Pizzarium (Via della Meloria), selling slices near the Vatican’s entrance. Its maestro Gabriele Bonci has been lauded as the ‘Michelangelo of pizza', and creations such as his ricotta, black pepper and courgette extravaganza are certainly a work of art – and merit the seemingly steep prices.
Not ready to call it a night after your evening extravaganza of food? Check out our Rome nightlife page for recommendations on where to go.