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Nov 17, 2006 02:54 AM

Rome: where is all the good food!

i will be in rome for three days in january. i love to eat! (hence chowhound!) i'm trying to pick a hotel and i want it to be close to some good, non touristy areas...what area in rome should i stay and what is in that area?

i'm considering a hotel by the colosseum....are there restaurants around there?

this is my first time. thanks!

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  1. Just got back from Rome last week, so I can possibly help you out.

    We stayed at a very nice boutique hotel called The Hotel Aventino. It is located in the neighborhood of the same name. (I found it through, a very valuable resource for locating hotels in every price range in Italy and elsewhere in Europe). It is in a beautiful and quiet residential neighborhood just south of the Circus Maximus. Although the immediate neighborhood has no shops, it is just a few minutes' walk down the hill to a major artery (Via Marmorata)which divides Aventino from Testaccio, where there are lots of restaurants and food-oriented shops. We became regulars at a pasticceria near the bus stop. We had dinner at one neighborhood restaurant (Il Bucatino) which we thought was terrible, but was filled up mostly with locals (so much for the old advice that tourists should eat where locals do--sometimes the locals don't know a thing about good food). Two nights later we ate at a take-out place/cafeteria that had some tables--it was connected with a very highly regarded gourmet shop next door (Volpetti) and the food was very good, and reasonable. Best of all, it was open at 6:00 pm, too early for dinner for most Romans, and we were tired, hungry, and in no mood to wait for dinner. It was perfect for that night.

    The Hotel Aventino is part of a small chain of hotels in the same neighborhood, and there is a restaurant at its sister hotel that is only open to hotel guests. It is one of the few restaurants that is open on Sundays. The restaurant is beautiful--all-glass building in the middle of a garden, candles everywhere. The food was consistently excellent, not overpriced, and there was a very nice choice of wines. The service was wonderful We enjoyed the place so much we ate there four out of the six nights we spent in Rome.


    1 Reply
    1. re: albinoni

      I don't know why I haven't seen this post before, but I want to say how much I agree with it. The Aventino is a residential neighborhood and the hotels are discreet, while Testaccio, just below the Aventine Hill has all the liveliness and food anyone could want. Il Bucatino can indeed ba awful, or it can be just what you want: It's true locals are often the worst people to ask, which is partly because many simply don't know good food, but it's also because locals will always order the same few things they know they like and newcomers may well order things that shouldn't have been on the menu in the first place and which locals would never have. In the specific case, however, Il Bucatino used to be better. Da Remo has the best pizza in Testaccio, or at least famously very good pizza, and Checchino dal 1887 is an excellent upscale restaurant serving unreconstructed traditional food.

    2. We had a wonderful meal at Vecchia Roma (Via della Tribuna di Campitelli). I read about it in "City Secrets Rome" (a wonderful little book you must check out if you haven't already) and it didn't disappoint. If you're out and about and want to grab a quick bite for lunch, I had one of the best sandwiches of my life at a little shop directly to the right of the Pantheon as you face it. Sorry I can't remember the name but it's incredible! Have fun.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pastahound

        ooooh I love City Secrets! I bought it last two years ago for a trip, and have dug it out again for one this Feb! :)

      2. Actually, the area around the Colisseum is kind of food-impaired. You're going to end up doing a lot of walking around meal time.

        The Campo de Fiore area is rich in restaurants, and the Tridente area is walking distance to practicaly everything.

        3 Replies
        1. re: condiment

          The Colosseum area (Im not sure exactly where exactly you mean) is central, has all kinds of attractions nearby as well as a metro stop, bus and tram lines to all parts of rome. You can (we have) walked virtually everywhere in the central city when staying there.
          Second, there are plenty of restaurants within easy reach, on the Caelian (the neighborhood toward the Lateran, in Monti,Testaccio (a 5 min tram ride), etc etc, and there are food shops, a good bakery etc,and a nice neighborhood daily fruit and veg market in the Caelian (via San Quattro Coronati) Some of the restaurants were mentioned on a thread just a couple of days ago. If you can be more specific about where you are staying in this hilly neighborhood (you may not want to climb over a big hill to get your dinner, for example) we can give you more specific advice. One thing for sure, though, you will have a wonderful experience in Rome.

          1. re: jen kalb

            One of my best meals in Rome was in the general Colosseum area at Bar Cavour, so the area isn't completely devoid of decent eats.

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              I agree, my favorite lunch in Rome from my Novenber trip was at 313 Cavour. For the language impaired, the waiter spoke perfect english and went out of his way to translate all the daily specials. They had an english language menu as well. The food was great, lots of organic and artisan products. I stood up front and watched the two guys put together all of the plates of food from a vast array of vegetables,meats,cheeses and condiments. Good selection of wine by the glass if you don't want to drink a bottle at lunch time.

        2. Very near the Colosseum on Via dei SS. Quatro 66, between the Piazza del Colosseo and Via Ostilia is Pasqualino. Never had a bad meal there, very reasonable price. Last time there, I had pasta with fresh porcini mushrooms. Quite different and good.

          1. i switched hotels. now i'm a block away from piazza navona. seems like a more central location?

            3 Replies
            1. re: yammers

              yes and no. It wont be as convenient for transit, and it will be a more crowded area to walk in (more tourists, business/government office workers than residents), but its definitely a beautiful, interesting, historic part of Rome and there are many, many restaurants around. I recommend (have recommended before) Trattoria Armando al Pantheon, for very delicious, traditional Roman food in a comfortable setting and at a reasonable price. Their lamb dishes (abacchio), chicoria (if you like salt, garlic and bitter greens!) pasta carbonara, guinea hen and duck, among other things, are unbeatable. 5 of us went for two full meals on our last visit, and the Only losers were the veg soup and saffron pasta that my then-vegan daughter ordered. Sora Margherita in the Ghetto is a classic Roman lunch experience (no reservations but they handle it very well)
              Go to San Eustachio Bar for excellent coffee and granita di cafe. People like Bafetto for pizza, near you, and there are many other recommend places you will find if you do a search of this Board and International (to pick up the older posts. YOu will probably be out and about in the daytime in other parts of the city which means that you will likely be lunching away from home, so you may want to get reccs for other areas - there are plenty of them on the Board for the Vatican area, for example. and the Gambero Rosso guide specific to Rome restaurants, winebars and food shops (purchasable in Rome, in Italian but readable) offer other worthy suggestions.

              1. re: yammers

                I've been to Rome every year since 1998, the year where I made the mistake of staying near the train station. I've stayed ever since in two hotels just northeast of Piazza Navona; I've been content ever since.

                Around Piazza Navona or the Pantheon, in terms of location, just couldn't be better. Rome (and Europe) is a shoe-leather culture. You can walk to all sights worth seeing, and if the walk is long, then you have the reward of compelling sights on the way. For Rome is utterly unique for history: 27 centuries, each leaving a mark; throw in the obelisks, and you have 35 centuries.

                With, Navona as the center of your circle, your radii will be equidistant to the Vatican, Trastevere, the Villa Borghese, and the San Giovanni in Laterno – and most sights will be within the circumference so formed. The subway, bus, and cab will get you everywhere else (Santa Croce, San Lorenzo, San Paolo, Baths of Caracalla, Santa Agnese and catacombs, Santa Priscilla Catacombs, etc). And the subway will get you to the trains stations Termini or Stazione Ostiense; from there local trains can take you to Ostia Antica and other sites more removed. It’s only to Tivoli and Hadrian’s Villa that the trip’s a chore.

                Granted, at Navona you'll be a bit removed from the subway (you'll have to walk to the station at the Spanish steps: Spagna), but the subway really skirts most of the main sights, rather than going to them. The route to Spagna from Navona is so interesting that you might not make it to your destination because of lovely distractions – a common problem in Rome. From the north end of Navona, at the fine museum of the Palazzo Altemps (w/the sublime Ludovisi Throne), take Via San Agostino past the church of the same name (maybe the best Quattrocento church in Rome, w/fresco by Raphael, painting by Caravaggio, sculpture by the Sansovinos, Bernini, and Ferrata), and turn left at Via della Scroffa. Look on your right for the delicatessen Volpetti, if you plan to picnic. At Piazza Nicosia, turn right into the via d. Clementino; you’ll see in the distance the Spanish steps. The streets runs past the Palazzo Borghese, then the street’s name changes to Via di Condotti, one of the world’s premier streets for fashion. Just before the Spanish steps, look for the Caffe Greco. A the Spanish steps, turn left, and you see the red M for metro on your right.

                For the Via Appia, Google in “Archeobus”, which will take you to the closer stretches of the Way.

                To walk everywhere has another advantage than just a treat for the eye. Ever wonder why Italians look thin?

                There is a downside: Food in this part of town cost more.

                Restaurants that I can recommend in the Navona area:

                1. for cappucino: Ciampini, Piazza San Lorenzo in Lucina 29

                2. for espresso: Tassa d’Oro, at the Pantheon on Via Oriani; Caffé Sant’Eustachio, Piazza Sant'Eustachio 82; Camillioni di Sant’Eustachio, Piazza di S. Eustachio 54, across the street from Sant’Eustachio, and for simple espresso just as good

                3. for more of a sit-down Parisian café: Antico Caffe della Pace, Via d. Pace.

                4. for ice cream: Giolitti, Via Ufficio del Vicario 40, the Holy Grail of ice cream, however curt the service; Tre Scalini, Piazza Navona 30 (28-32). for the tartufo (be sure you’re at the right place, since another bar next door has a similar name)

                5. for budget dining (and budget in this part of town isn’t really budget): Enoteca Corsi, via dei Gesu 87, lunch only: forget the menu and read what’s posted on the blackboard outside; Da Francesco. Piazza del Fico 29, esp. the antipasto and vegetables.

                6. for midprice: La Campana, Vicolo della Campana 18: you may not like the stiff service or lack of English, but you can’t complain about the food; Armando al Pantheon, Salita de Crescenzi (near the Pantheon); La Taverna da Giovanni, via Banco di Santo Spirito 58

                7. for High End Fine Dining: Il Convivio- Troiani, Vicolo dei Soldeati 31, my favorite in Rome; Enoteca Capranica, Piazza Capranica 99/100: not as good as Il Convivio, but good all the same, esp. for wine.

                8. for food with a view: Di Rienzo, Piazza del Pantheon 8/9, phone 06 68 69 097 has gas heaters in winter, and ask to be seated at the edge to be able to view the world’s greatest building, esp sublime in the evening, and the street “theater” even more amusing; Il Domiziano Piazza Navona 88, the best I’ve found for a view in the Piazza Navona.

                The following come recommended, but as I’ve yet to eat there, I can’t comment, and leave it up to other Chowhounds to judge:
                Da Gino, Vicolo Rosini 4;
                Tre Archi da Loreto. Via dei Coronari 233;
                Fraterna Domus, Via dell Cancello 6, lunch seating 1pm, dinner 730, reservations required;
                Antica Taverna. Via Monte Giordano 12;
                Trattoria Da Gino e Pietro. Corner of Via del Governo Veccio 106 and Vicolo Savelli 3;
                Vecchia Locanda vicolo Sinibladi 2; Romilo, Via di Campo Marzio, 13;
                Al Vicario Via degli Uffici del Vicario;
                Maccheroni, Piazza delle Coppelle, 44;
                Ristorante Montevecchio, Piazza Montevecchio, 22a;
                Trattoria Filippo La Mantia, Via delle Cornachie;
                wine bar Cul de Sac Piazza Pasquino 73;
                lunch: Trattoria da Tonino al Governo Vecchio. Via del Governo Veccio 16/19;
                lunch: Trattoria, Via dei Banchi Nuovi 8,
                lunch: Palladini. via del Governo Vecchio 29;
                supper: Pizzeria da Baffetto. Via del Governo Veccio 114;
                al fresco: Caffe Barocco, Piazza Navona;
                L'Angoletto, Piazza Rondanini 55;
                Venetian: El Toula via della Lupa 29;
                seafood: Quinzi & Gabrielli via delle Coppelle 6.

                I’m sure I’ve overlook many.

                – Sid Cundiff