With a city nicknamed Caput Mundi—Capital of the World—it’s only natural that Romans are accustomed to seeing their home as unrivaled in matters of history, culture and food. And while it’s true that traditional local cuisine holds a sacred place at the table, Rome is hardly impervious to change. The city’s classics, from carbonara to cacio e pepe, are still universally beloved, but Rome’s dining and drinking culture, like that of all cities, is in a constant state of evolution (albeit at a glacial pace compared to New York, Paris or London). Recently, tightening purse strings, transitioning food systems and changing palates have conspired to create exciting new ways of dining, drinking and shopping for food.
Roscioli – Via Dei Giubbonari 21
The Roscioli family, famous for its bakery (Antico Forno Roscioli) and coffee shop (Roscioli Cafe), opened this restaurant/wine bar/deli near Largo Argentina in 2005. Purchase wine, cheese, fine pasta and cured meats to take away, or enjoy a proper meal at one of the tables. Book several days in advance for dinner and request a ground-floor table near the back of the dining room. Start with burrata paired with semi-sundried tomatoes, butter with Cantabrian anchovies on toast and mortadella with 36-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano. Follow these dishes with carbonara or cacio e pepe, or both! Skip the main dishes and dessert—they will bring cookies at the end of the meal anyway—but don’t overlook the extensive grappa and amaro list. Solo diners can book a spot at the bar; Roscioli is one of the few places in town offering bar seating.
Al Moro – Vicolo Delle Bollette, 13
Tucked away in an alley near the Trevi Fountain, Al Moro is among Rome’s most historic trattorias. Helmed by four successive generations of Romagnolis since the 1920s, the place began humbly, slowly building a reputation among actors at the nearby Teatro Quirino, but over the years it has become a favourite of Roman aristocracy and well-heeled travellers. Go for local classics, which have virtually vanished from the city’s tables: lumache alla romana, snails cooked in a sauce spiked with anchovies, chili and mint; fegato di vitella, tender pan-fried liver; and tagliatelle con le rigaje, fresh pasta with a tomato sauce enriched with chicken innards. There are plenty of mainstream dishes, too. In the spring, try roasted abbacchio (suckling lamb) with potatoes. Year-round, enjoy spaghetti alla Moro, the house version of carbonara featuring a pancetta-enriched egg sauce seasoned with red pepper flakes.
Mercato Centrale – Stazione Termini | Via Giolitti, 36
Mercato Centrale, Rome’s newest food hall, resides among the limestone arches trimming Stazione Termini’s southern perimeter. The marketplace occupies three floors, but the action is on street level where over a dozen stalls sell food according to theme. Start near the main entrance where Gabriele Bonci’s bakery serves stellar pizza by the slice, then grab a glass at the wine bar next door, which has a great selection of small producers and glasses starting at just €4.50 ($4.82 U.S.). At the far end of the market, Trapizzino serves thick triangular sandwiches filled with meaty Roman specialties like stewed chicken or simmered oxtail. For a sweet finale, circle back to the main entrance for two scoops at Gelateria Cremilla. The second floor has a restaurant helmed by Michelin-starred chef Oliver Glowig.