The food in Rome (and Italy in general) is just freaking heavenly. The best pasta in Rome is usually found in casual and delicious trattorias, where you can find typical Roman dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara, cacio e pepe, spaghetti alla gricia (which is not quite the same as carbonara) and potato gnocchi. One thing I learned that I didn’t realize before visiting Italy is that certain regions are known for specific pasta dishes. And other regions will generally respect pastas not from their own region, and not try to recreate them in other areas. So for example, carbonara originated in Rome and since it is considered Roman cuisine, we didn’t see it on the menu at any restaurants outside of Rome. Interesting, right? Italians are very passionate about their food and their pasta so it makes sense that they respect tradition!
Having Italian food in Italy is just about the biggest treat I can think of, and a foodie’s dream. Roman pasta is just next level and can’t be compared to anything you might have had in the States. Their ingredients are just better…whether it’s the fresh tomato sauce, the DOP-approved parmigiano-reggiano, or the pasta water that’s like liquid gold in their sauce, it’s just not easily replicated in the U.S. Which is why you have to eat your way through Rome and enjoy all the classic Roman dishes the city has to offer you!
Another thing I noticed about restaurants in Italy, especially in Rome, is that a restaurant might have several different variations of its name. So a restaurant name might show up a little differently on Google Maps, vs TripAdvisor, vs Google, vs what’s actually printed on the door of the restaurant. Variations could be words like “osteria” vs “vineria” or “trattoria,” or regions like “Roma” or “Toscana” could be tacked on at the end in some versions. It can be a bit confusing, so just double check the address to make sure you’re heading to the right place!
I’m sharing a list of my favorite restaurants and where you can find the best pasta in Rome. Keep in mind for any of these recommendations, you should absolutely try to make reservations in advance for dinner. If you’re not able to make reservations, Romans eat late (restaurants really get busy around 8:30/9), so if you show up right when a restaurant opens at 7 or 7:30, you can usually get a table as a walk-in. Another option is to try for lunch.
And one more note to share about service. It’s hit or miss in Rome. For the most part, everyone is pretty friendly, but occasionally you’ll come across people who work at restaurants that are so busy they don’t have time to smile. It might take you a while for your server to come over and take your order. Or they might forget to place it. Or you might ask for the check five times before you actually get it. While these things can start to get frustrating, just remember that the most important part is the food. And that when you’re seated at a table, unless specifically told that they need the table back at a certain time, it’s yours for as long as you want it. So while I can’t promise you that every restaurant on this list will have fantastic service, I can promise you’ll be able to find fabulous Roman dishes there!
Best Pasta in Rome: Restaurants in Rome You Can’t Miss
Il Chianti Osteria Toscana: Il Chianti is located just steps away from the Trevi Fountain, and even with the ample indoor and outdoor seating, there was a bit of a line when we showed up on a random weeknight. It was worth the wait though, because the carbonara we had there was the best carbonara we had in Rome, and certainly some of the best pasta in Rome (and we tried a lot of different restaurants’ carbonara, people!). So, that was a highlight and definitely not to be missed. It was so good that after my trip to Rome with my family, I took Omied back here when we visited Rome again at the end of our trip so he could experience it. And so I could have more of the best carbonara ever.
LUCIANO Cucina Italiana – Roma: This spot is really popular among locals and foreigners alike. People rave about their carbonara.
Trattoria Vecchia Roma: This spot was recommended to me by a teller at my bank who grew up in Rome! She was helping me get Euros for my trip and asked where I was going. When I told her Italy, first stop Rome, she got so excited and pulled up Trattoria Vecchia Roma’s website on her computer screen. She told me that this is her favorite restaurant for the best pasta in Rome, and typical Roman dishes. I came here with my family and we absolutely loved it! We weren’t able to get a reservation because whenever we tried to call the phone was either busy or no one answered (the sign of a bumpin’ restaurant!). So we decided to show up right when they open and they were able to seat us. By 8:30pm the place was packed, with a line out the door. They are famous for their bucatini, which they make in a giant wheel of pecorino romano. And if you want extra cheese on top of that dish, be sure to ask for grated pecorino, not parmesan! I also loved their gnocchi with walnut sauce and speck (kinda like a mix between ham and thick bacon). And if you’re lucky enough to visit during artichoke season, definitely get the carciofi!
Tonnarello: The hip Trastevere neighborhood is known for having lots of fantastic trattorias, and Tonnarello is one of them. One of Omied’s colleagues who is from Rome recommended this spot, and we had a delicious dinner here. There was a pretty long line to get in, but it moved fairly quickly and we were able to dine in their outside area in front of the restaurant, which made for such a fun experience. There’s nothing quite like dining al fresco with the best pasta in Rome in front of you and a glass of wine in hand while people watching on a gorgeous summer evening! Definitely get their tiramisu, it was some of the best we had in Italy!
Grazia & Graziella: This restaurant is right across from Tonnarello and honestly they are very similar. Our Airbnb was close by here so we ended up going to both of them as Grazia & Graziella was another rec from Omied’s colleague. We had their lasagna which was fab, and their cacio e pepe (how do they make pasta with just some black pepper and simple sauce taste so good??). Between this spot and Tonnarello it was really hard to pick a favorite, but I think Omied ended up saying he liked Tonnarello a tiny bit better and I liked Grazia & Graziella a smidge better. I’d say if you show up and one line is shorter than the other, hop in that one! They were both delicious and Grazia & Graziella has outdoor seating and killer tiramisu too.
Armando al Pantheon: Armando al Pantheon is known for being one of the few restaurants in Rome next to a huge tourist attraction and still serves up great food. This restaurant has been family-run for decades, with family recipes passed down since the ’60’s.
Crispi 19: For a fancier dinner, Crispi 19 is a great option that’s romantic, serves elevated dishes and has a great wine cellar and list. The menu has a focus on fish and of course pastas, and they combine traditional ingredients and imaginative flavors.
Borghiciana Pastificio Artigianale: This place is small but they make fabulous handmade pastas at this pastificio (which means they make their own pastas). It’s perfect for a quick, casual, and delicious lunch, especialy after visiting The Vatican as it’s located on that side of the river.
Felice a Testaccio: Bucatini, carbonara, tonnarelli…take your pick from all the classic Roman pasta dishes served here. It’s a very popular spot so you can expect it to be crowded and loud, and hard to get into without a reservation or showing up early.
Ristorante Anni Cinquanta Roma: People LOVE the pizza here, and the prices are super reasonable.
Dar Poeta Alla Scala: A local recommended Dar Poeta Alla Scala for pizza, and their selection is overwhelming and delicious. You can get pizza by the slice here, so it’s fun to try a couple (or a few) different kinds.
Hosteria Romana: Hosteria Romana is simple and small, and graffiti on the wall is encouraged, so you know it’s unpretentious. You’ll find some of the best pasta in Rome here as well as delicious dishes like roasted lamb.
Da Bucatino: Da Bucatino is a favorite spot in Testaccio among locals. They have an antipasto buffet, and their oxtail and bucatini dishes are favorites.
Colline Emiliane: Colline Emiliane is definitely in the running for the best pasta in Rome. Established in 1967, all their pasta is made by hand and the family spending hours a day rolling it themselves. Be sure to try their veal and pumpkin ravioli.
Flavio al Velavevodetto: This welcoming spot is set inside of the historic archaeological site, Monte Testaccio, an artificial mound composed almost entirely of testae, fragments of broken ancient Roman pottery. Which means you’ll be dining surrounded by pieces of pottery dating back to the time of the Roman Empire. No big deal. Some of the highlights from their Roman menu include their stracciatella di bufala, carbonara, and cacio e pepe.
Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina: This Salumeria is part deli counter, part restaurant. It’s run by the Roscioli family, famous for their delicious bakery next door on Via dei Giubbonari. You’ll find exceptional cheeses, wines, salami, and pastas here.
Nuovo Mercato Testaccio: The Mercato Testaccio is an open air market in the Testaccio neighborhood. Stroll through the rows of produce, meat, fresh pasta, paninis and pastries and grab lunch here. It’s a fun place to hang out and sit outside while enjoying delicious food and a slice of Roman life.
La Tavernaccia: This restaurant is a little more out of the way in Trastevere, located on Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, but their spaghetti alla gricia makes it worth the hike, plus you get to explore a new, charming area.
Ok, I think I’m sufficiently drooling now. Ciao bella!