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Jan 9, 2012 01:57 PM

Rome: best open air lunch options?

For an upcoming summer visit, we will be arriving in Rome about noon at our hotel near the Piazza del Popolo. We would like to kick off our stay with a long and delicious lunch outdoors within walking distance of our hotel.

Reading these boards and consulting other sources, 3 spots have made our preliminary list: Hotel du Russie, in the garden; Dal Bolognese; and the Hotel Locarno.

Any Chowhound comments and comparisons about these 3 possibilities? Are there other places that we should consider?

Thanks for your help.

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  1. I would at least consider other venues. Hotel de Russie has a wonderful garden but i find the prices outrageously inflated. Dal Bolognese has a great location and patio, but the food never knocked my socks off, and the Hotel Locarno has a great aperitivo but I didn't know they served lunch. If eating outdoors is the main goal then Dal Bolognese and the de Russie will fit the bill, but you can eat outdoors and eat very well if you leave the immediate vicinity of piazza del popolo. Settembrini, for example, is a 15 minute walk away (across the river) and ticks both the cuisine and outdoor seating boxes.

    2 Replies
    1. re: katieparla

      Thanks Katie. We will check out Settembrini.

      The reason for specifying "outdoors and walkable" is that we will be arriving in Rome from San Francisco, undoubtedly tired, jet lagged and needing fresh air. We are looking to stumble to a wonderful place with minimal effort or transportation.

      Thanks again.

      1. re: cortez

        If location is all-important, consider Babette (French name, Italian food) at the Piazza del Popolo end of Via Margutta. But reservations are advised, particularly for the outdoor seating.

    2. Zerlina's idea of Babette is good. If money is no object, Hotel de Russie actually sounds like just what you want. The quality will be fine and the setting perfect. If you find you want less than a full meal and location is the absolutely most important thing, the two famous bar-caf├ęs on the piazza, Rosati and Canova, might be all you need. Dal Bolognese, where I haven't been in a long time, still has its fans, but the terrace is not its most attractive feature. Babette and Russie have gardens so you're not in the middle of the street.

      1. I'd definitely avoid Russie. Overpriced and not that good.
        Locarno only good for drinks in the evening (and very good at that, so make sure you go)
        Dal Bolognese: I don't think any of us regulars would ever choose to go there. It's not 'bad', but very expensive and mostly caters to tourists these days.
        Katie's suggestion of Settembrini is excellent.
        Pierluigi is also within walking distance (about a 20 minute walk), and has one of the most lovely settings in Rome, in Piazza Ricci.
        I don't like Babette's at all. And at lunch they serve a buffet, which isn't really that good.

        But keep in mind that if your trip is in July, eating lunch outside may be too hot. Even when places have umbrellas, it can be sweltering.