Trastevere, located just south of Vatican City in central Rome, is the kind of neighborhood that embodies all of the charming little things you expect to find in Italy. Here, cobblestone streets play host to cheese and prosciutto shops where mammas shop for goods to prepare lunch while locals and expats laugh, argue, and drink pinot grigio in streetside cafes and restaurants. This is where you can still find Rome’s old social scene, clinging to its bohemian roots no matter how hip and modern the greater city becomes.
Trastevere translates literally to “across the river,” signifying where you have to go to avoid the crowds that flood Rome’s center. Ask a passing local and they’ll tell you that this place is the perfect balance of Italian tradition and cosmopolitan vibes. The Hollywood of Rome, as locals call it, is also a heck of a place to grub down. Here’s how to eat your way through the neighborhood.
Pasta e Vino
What pulls you into this cozy place isn’t Marco, the handsome host stationed out front, but the big window looking out to the street where you can see the chef preparing pasta from scratch. Victoria, Pasta e Vino’s pasta master, is always happy to show you around her cooking station and let you sample the freshest piece of linguini you’ll ever eat. While the restaurant specializes in pasta with homemade sauces, you can also opt for a rich eggplant parm with fresh basil. No matter what you order, sit next to the piano and relax with a glass of the house white wine. Finish your meal with an espresso, which comes with a wine cookie. Come for lunch or dinner and plan to stay a while.
Where: Vicolo de’ Cinque, 40, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
La Tavernetta 29
Meat and seafood lovers will fall for La Tavernetta 29 as soon as they spot the massive hunks of aged T-bone steaks on the window. The beauty of this restaurant is the open-fire wood grill used to get just the right texture and smoky flavor, which goes along with Rome’s penchant for finely smoked meats. First-time visitors from the States likely haven’t tasted anything quite like it — either the meats or the colorful seafood combinations topping pasta dishes. Make sure someone in your party orders the beef or a tender piece of lamb, served with potatoes. A dinner for two, complete with a bottle of wine, coffee, and tiramisu, will set you back about $80. Snag yourself a reservation in advance.
Where: Via della Pelliccia, 29a, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
While most of the pizza places in Rome use an electric oven nowadays, Pizzeria Nerone has stayed true to the wood oven tradition. Expect the type of local pizza that has a crusty dough and a slightly liquid top with tomato sauce evenly spread and cheese perfectly melted atop. The Neapolitan pizza is a great choice if you like a little anchovies twist, or go with a simple margherita. The fresh ingredients make even the simplest recipe taste like Christmas in your mouth, and a medium-sized pizza is just about $7. Gotta love Trastevere.
Where: Via del Moro, 43, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Antica Caciara Salumi
Rich and diverse, this deli storefront is an Italian food wonderland. The Antica Salumeria is an old-school shop that stocks smelly regional cheese right next to cured ham and other cuts of meat that are far less recognizable. Here, you’ll see Italian deli culture on full display, including lines of local ladies instructing the guy behind the counter on how they want their meat cut, and the scene gets even more lively when they start trying the cheese. The fare is fresh, and this place smells so good that no photo or Instagram story does it justice. Absolutely do not leave without snagging some Parmigiano, mozzarella, salami, and> bresaola to take home, though you’ll probably devour much of it on the spot with a piece of Italian bread. If you’d like to bring a souvenir home, forget the lame “I love Rome” shirts and pick up a bottle of the Antica’s olive oil instead.
Where: Via di S. Francesco a Ripa, 140, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Right next to Antica Salumeria, you’ll find Suppli. There’s often a huge line out the door of this tiny place, and for good reason. Locals love Suppli — both the restaurant and the crispy arborio arancini stuffed with meat, tomato, and parmesan that it’s named for. Pick up lunch and stroll around the plaza nibbling while drinking a cold Moretti. While the place seems crowded, service is super quick and you’ll have a delicious snack in your hands in less than a minute. Fast food never tasted so good. If you’re in the mood for pizza, you won’t be disappointed.
Where: Via di S. Francesco a Ripa, 137, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Bar S. Calisto
Locals love this place because of the vibrant square it’s located on. Here, you’ll find street performers that are talented, not annoying. This bar is known for its cocktails and tapas. While it’s not a place to have a full meal, Calisto is perfect for an Aperol Spritz late in the afternoon. Feel free to jump into the conversation of the table next to you; locals are super friendly and would appreciate the fact that you’re exploring Trastevere.
Where: Piazza di S. Calisto, 3, 00153, Roma RM, Italy
It’s late and you’re in the mood for something good — cured spicy sausage on focaccia, perhaps. Pop into Donkey Punch. This laid-back bar has the best sandwiches in all of Trastevere, and they’re all named after rock & roll bands. The house burger is amazing, as is the Rolling Stones sandwich made with porchetta, dried tomatoes, and spicy sauce. Knock back a Peroni or two and talk to the friendly owner over your sandwich.
Where: Via della Scala, 33, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
So you’ve been walking around taking photos all day and really need a glass of wine and some tapas. Hang out at Pimm’s Good and enjoy the generous tapas portions and a glass of pinot. This place is ideal for people watching because it sits on the border of Via di Santa Dorotea and Viale di Trastevere (the main street that connects this neighborhood to the center). The outdoor heaters will keep you cozy, or if you prefer to be inside, you can opt for a sit down dinner with a side of live music entertainment. If you’re in luck, you’ll catch Paolo, the mixologist on shift. If you do, ask him to surprise you with a concoction of his choice.
Where: Via di Santa Dorotea, 8, 00153 Roma RM, Italy
Giuffre is a super cozy breakfast and coffee place that brings life to the neighborhood in the early morning hours. The house espresso is strong enough to wake you up in a split second — but you should really try the cafe latte, smooth as a cloud. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, expect to be mesmerized by the chocolate fountain behind the bar. Local families come here for gelato and indulgent cake topped with so much frosting that a single bite will put an end to your keto diet. Students and digital nomads use this cafe as an office in the morning, thanks to the comfortable tables and smell of freshly roasted beans. As a traveler, you’ll fit right in.
Where: Viale di Trastevere, 255, 00153 Roma RM, Italy