The center of Rome is filled with a mix of truly fantastic and honestly horrible restaurants. Some are pure tourist traps, and others are booked out weeks in advance due to their well-deserved popularity. So if you want to outsmart the crowds and head to a more local spot, you might want to look for restaurants off the beaten path in Rome.
To be clear – the fact that these restaurants are outside of the center does not imbue them with some magical properties because there are definitely good restaurants in the heart of the city. However, most are relatively less discovered given their physical location and all are very, very tasty.
Will travel for food? Here’s where to go:
Restaurants off the Beaten Path in Rome
Casetta Rossa: Best in warmer weather, this “zero kilometer” restaurant uses local foods and changes its menu daily. The reason its best on a sunny day is that La Casetta Rossa (which means the little red house in English) is located in a park. While there is some indoor space, most of the tables are set up outside under the trees in a charming corner of Garbatella. I love this restaurant for its setting but also for its social mission. When not serving food, the space is often used for community events or educations initiatives, including Italian lessons for refugees. It is a great excuse to explore a new Rome neighborhood, eat extremely well, and support all their lovely causes. (Via Giovanni Battista Magnaghi, 14, Garbatella)
Betto e Mary: This is an unapologetically Roman restaurant. Come for carbonara, stay for tripe and coda alla vaccinara (oxtail). Betto e Mary is the place to go if you want to find menu items that have fallen out of fashion in many other trattorias. The food is good but the real draw is probably the people watching. Expect a lot of Roman slang to be thrown about in the loud, happy, local crowd. You can read Alexandra’s review for a taste of the atmosphere and the food. (Via dei Savorgnan, 99, Torpignattara).
Trattoria Vecchia Roma (Esquilino): There are many many restaurants called “Trattoria Vecchia Roma” in the Eternal City, but my favorite is a basement eatery in the Esquilino neighborhood. The area has become better known for its non-Italian food (like my favorite Krishna 13) but there are some excellent classic trattorias in the zona as well. Trattoria Vecchia Roma is a huge place located half a flight below street level which seems to deter some passerbys. It does get a bit loud and you will probably overhear some English but this is a place with traditional cooking and a few gimmicks. The best being when they LIGHT A WHEEL OF CHEESE ON FIRE to melt enough pecorino for your amatriciana. So yes, fairly off the clearly beaten path in Rome but still close to the center, and thus a little touristy. I forgive it for that, though, because sometimes I want the showmanship. (Via Ferruccio, 12/b/c, Esquilino)
Cesare al Casaletto: This beautiful trattoria would have been considered an off the beaten path restaurant in Rome a few years ago but it is so good that it put itself on the map. It is more than worth the trip out to Casaletto to dine on the vine-covered patio while digging into perfect plates of pasta and sipping exceptional wines. Even though it is pretty far out of the center past Trastevere, it is easy to get to. Make sure you have a reservation, then hop on Tram 8 to Casaletto. The restaurant, with its friendly service and homemade dishes, is a 1-minute walk from the very last tram stop. (Via del Casaletto, 45, Casaletto)
La Gatta Mangiona: I am actually relieved that La Gatta Mangiona exists and that it is not too close to the center of Rome. That is selfish but it makes it easier to get a table – and you want a table, because this is really, truly some of the best pizza in Rome. You will be a very happy eater if you make the trip out to find it on a quiet, residential street in Monteverde. Not Roman and not Neapolitan, La Gatta Mangiona straddles the pizza line and manages to get just the right about of char-to-chew ration in its dough. All the pizzas are woodfired and the classic toppings are tasty but it is worth branching out to try their more creative combos. Be sure to start with some fried goodies. You will be stuffed. You will never really look at another pizza the same way. Enjoy. (Via Federico Ozanam, 30-32, Monteverde)
180g Pizzeria Romana: The classic Roman pizzerias in the center of the city are no secret if the lines outside of places like Da Remo and Ai Marmi are any indication. If you are willing to make the trek out to Centocelle then you can get a taste of one of newest pizza places that prides itself on true pizza Romana. The Roman style pizza here is crispy and cracker-y in a way that other pizzas don’t even come close. The specialty is scrocchiarella – what I would explain as a crust with super extra crunchiness. The fritti are great and the toppings (from nearby Proloco) are excellent and all local. It is pretty far off the beaten path so you might want to plan on taking a taxi. (Via Tor de’ Schiavi, 53, Centocelle)
If you are curious about these restaurants then my best advice is to plan transportation – figure out the Rome metro, or call a taxi – because things change. For example, you have already missed your chance to try Mazzo, one of the eateries that helped put Centocelle on the foodie map. The chef team announced recently that they are embarking on a small world tour in 2019 (but that they do plan to open a different kind of Mazzo in a new location in 2020).
Do you have any other favorite restaurants off the beaten path in Rome? Or any that are not worth the trek in your opinion?
Map to Restaurants Off the Beaten Path in Rome