Expert recommendations for the best places to eat in four price ranges: budget ($), moderate ($$), expensive ($$$), and luxury ($$$$)
Da I 2 Ciccioni
"At the 2 Chubby Ones"; tiny home-style trattoria with only five tables, usually set out on the cobblestones of a small Trastevere street. No menu; dinner is whatever Gianni, the jovial proprietor, wants to serve. Usually includes bruschetta with tomatoes, and rigatoni all'amatriciana (with tomato and bacon sauce). Vicolo del Cedra 3; 39 06 589 4480.
"Like a trip to the country; occupies a centuries-old stable; big wooden tables, a lovely outdoor garden. Run by a larger-than-life woman everyone calls Baba, who serves only organic, homecooked food, like chestnut and mushroom soup, a beautiful risotto with pumpkin and saffron, and the best apple crumble in Italy."—Francesca Alliata-Bronner, Rome food critic and columnist for La Repubblica newspaper. Dinner, announced by bell, served promptly at 9 p.m. Via Casale di Tor di Quinto; 39 06 333 0745. www.babaristorante.it
La Taverna Da Tonino e Lucia
Small trattoria tucked in the quiet Monti neighborhood in the shadow of the Colosseum; walls lined with cork. Menu never changes; specialties include spaghetti alla carbonara and a thick cut of steak. The stellar food is worth the trek. Via Madonna dei Monti 79; 39 06 474 5325.
"Informal and simpatico; on a lively piazza; typical Roman cuisine; try the pasta alla carbonara."—Ann Natanson, Rome-based journalist and critic. Specialties include trofie al pesto (twisted pasta with pesto sauce) and buffalo mozzarella with anchovies. Sit next to the kitchen and watch the chefs prepare pasta, or sit outside on Piazza della Coppelle and watch young Romans come and go. Piazza delle Coppelle 44; 39 06 683 0789. www.ristorantemaccheroni.com
"Like eating at home, and it's all delicious. Spaghetti alla carbonara, Roman artichokes, and some of the best truffle pasta you could imagine."—Francesca Alliata-Bronner. One of the few non-touristy trattorie near the Spanish Steps, run by two cousins from Umbria; casual atmosphere. Via delle Carrozze 31. 39 06 678 6127.
In the affluent, non-touristy residential neighborhood of Trieste, near Via Salaria. Colorful, modern restaurant specializing in cuisine from the southern Italian regions of Calabria, Puglia, and Sicily, such as fried chickpea pannelle with spicy sauce. Via Antonio Bosio 20a; 39 06 442 02701.
Felice A Testaccio
"Chef Flavio brought new influences to the cucina Romana (Roman kitchen) without betraying such traditional dishes as beef heart with artichoke. Very light pastas and terrific wine selection."—Francesca Alliata-Bronner. This restaurant's version of the Roman dish cacio e pepe (spaghetti with cheese and pepper), tossed right at your table, may be the best in Rome. Via Mastro Giorgio 29; 39 06 574 6800.
"In one of Rome's more chic residential neighborhoods; wonderful open-hearth grill where a variety of meats get cooked to perfection."—Ann Natanson. Relatively new restaurant in the well-heeled residential neighborhood of Parioli; boasts one of the few rotisseries in the city; house specials include rotisserie chicken and rotisserie baby pig with puréed apple and puntarelle (a type of chicory); trendy black and white design with large outdoor patio and canopy bar. Viale Parioli 122; 39 06 808 2900. www.moltoitaliano.it
"A promenade of taste, a walk through a culinary night to remember; tasting menu of Italian olive oils, fine cheeses, pastas, seasonal vegetables, and cakes, and corresponding wines for each course."—Francesca Alliata-Bronner. Via Palermo 6B; 39 06 482 2099.
"The lightest bacalà (cod) alla Romana you've ever tasted and a wonderful spaghettoni with tuna and sweet peppers."—Francesca Alliata-Bronner. Atmospheric restaurant decorated with modern frescoes; as yet undiscovered by many guidebooks; a favorite of Roman celebs, including actress Sophia Loren. Via Garibaldi 18; 39 06 580 9236. www.anticapesa.it
"Classic Roman restaurant with classic Roman menu; series of small, wood-panelled rooms presided over by lifelong waiters; artworks and newspaper clippings blanket the walls."—Ann Wise. Opened in 1929 just steps from the Trevi Fountain; specializes in local cuisine; highlights include crisply roasted baby goat with fresh rosemary, and crunchy pan-fried artichokes. Vicolo delle Bollette 13; 39 06 474 5284.
"Probably the most important restaurant in Rome; executive chef Heinz Beck has three Michelin stars. Everything about it is beautiful."—Francesca Alliata-Bronner. World-class tasting menu includes shrimp carpaccio with papaya tartar, lime gelée, and iced tequila. Via Cadlolo 101; 39 06 3509 2152.
"One of Rome's top restaurants, in the Hassler Hotel."—Ann Wise. Recently refurbished with panoramic windows, sleek décor, and minimal lighting. Executive chef Francesco Apreda mixes traditional Italian dishes with high-concept Eastern traditions and ingredients. Try the Chianina steak with white chicory, Borlotti beans, and lime sauce. Piazza Trinità dei Monti 6; 39 06 6993 4375.
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