A good pizza in Rome

Posted on Nov 17, 2016 in Foodies & Shopaholics, On your own | No Comments

trattoria-vecchia-romaWhen in Rome….. eat as least a pizza a week!

And if you want to keep up with the locals, remember to order fritti as a starter – from supplì (the roman rice ball hors d’oeuvre) to fillets of baccalà (salt cod) to fiori di zucca (zucchini flowers stuffed with an anchovy and mozzarella). And no wine with pizza, but beer, or even a coke. Or gas water….Here is a non-exhaustive list of my favorite pizza places:

  • Bir and Fud: in Trastevere  and not just for pizza. Craft beer, unusual pizzas, mouth watering antipasti and dessert. Better to reserve a table, as it gets full immediately!
  • Alle Carrette: when I’m next to the Colosseum I go there, a little alley, few tables outside and a lot of space inside, but still you’ll have to wait. Because pizza is really good!
  • Emma: my last discovery near Campo dei Fiori/Piazza Navona. And not only for pizza! Great ingredients, polite service (which is not always the case for “pizzeria”) and not to be missed desserts.
  • La Focaccia: soft pizza, if you prefer the “Naples style”. Near Piazza Navona.
  • La Montecarlo: informal, noisy, genuine, cheap pizzeria near Piazza Navona. Only cash payment.
  • Nuovo Mondo: this is how a pizzeria looked like in Rome until 30 years ago, with paper-thin pizza, simple fast services, few good items in the menu that the waiter can tell by heart, cheap price and a noisy “true Roman” atmosphere just next to your elbow! Located in Testaccio, a district to explore if you wish to feel like a local….
  • Dar Poeta: we will never state one as “the best pizzeria in Rome” , but this is a damn good one! There’s usually a bit to wait before being seated, but it’s worthwhile. Try the delicious “calzone” with ricotta cheese and nutella to end dinner! And afterwards, a walk in Trastevere, of course!
  • La Pratolina:  not far from the Vatican, this is a pizzeria where you will be surrounded by more locals than tourist, which is becoming rare in the centre of Rome. Pizza is really good, so it’s always full: remember to reserve your table in advance. Only for dinner.
  • Li Rioni: traditional warm atmosphere not far from the Colosseum.
  • Al Tettarello: in Monti, a good trattoria, but also remarkable for pizza.

Any great discovery you wish to add? Let us know by mail to info@afriendinrome.it . And if you wish to learn the difference between Roman pizza and Neapolitan pizza, watch this video!

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Street Food in Rome

Posted on Dec 22, 2015 in Foodies & Shopaholics | No Comments

Suppli-a-romaIt’s the trend of the moment, already appreciated in the most important cities of the world and becoming the new gastronomic hit even in Rome. During your sightseeing walks or just for a quick lunch break, this new habit is giving you the chance to try a kind of food you might not easily find in traditional restaurants. Be aware, these shops usually do not have seats for you and it is not easy to find an empty bench in Rome…. But… there is a special place called “Il Vinaietto” (Via del Monte della Farina, 38 – near Campo dei Fiori. Tel 066806989) where you can simply order a glass of wine and take your own food with you, exactly like the Romans used to do in the past in the “osterie”.

  • aTrestaurant: in the cozy Piazza di Pietra (near the Pantheon), you have a lively space at your disposal. They serve smoothies, juices, yogurt and fruit, but also salads, soups, quiches…. For an healthy meal!
  • Bacio di Puglia: directly form “the heel of the boot”, Apulia region, to the Vatican area: you can taste hot panzerotti, baked pasta, eggplants parmigiana…..
  • Fries: just french fries, but delicious, with 20 different sauces to dip them in! Very close to Saint Peter’s basilica…. it might be a very good way to end your Vatican tour!
  • Pastasciutta: if you like pasta as we do, you cannot miss this place! Around the Vatican (Via delle Grazie, 5)  you can have a dish of home made pasta cooked in front of your eyes for 5 euros!
  • La Piadineria: there are several shops selling the “piadina”, typical snack of the Romagna region filled with everything you can think about. The shop in Via del Boschetto 98 is close to the Colosseum/Forum area  and gives you the chance to explore the Rione Monti as well.
  • Pianostrada: in Trastevere, three ladies serve fresh food every day following the seasons.
  • Pinsa’m po’! : good stop after a Vatican tour, traditional recipe for a sort of take away pizza and good “supplì”, always just made. Local beer is served too!
  • Pizzarium: next to the Vatican and to the metro stop “Cipro”, this is not just another “take away pizza” shop, because quality is a must and creativity does not lack either ….
  • Queen’s Chips: Dutch potatoes imported exclusively and always fresh cut, perfectly fried. Few steps away from Piazza Venezia and the Quirinale Palace.
  • Supplizio: as the name states, the main “course” is the suppli, but not just the traditional fried tomato and meat ragout rice ball… impossible to describe exactly what they cook, the list is on a board and changes every day. Stop by and enjoy!
  • Trapizzino: in Testaccio and now also in Ponte Milvio, ancient recipes of the local tradition saved from the oblivion and served with two slices of pizza bread….

Help us with your own tips: write to info@afriendinrome.it !


It’s always time for “gelato”!

Posted on Jun 30, 2015 in Children, Foodies & Shopaholics | No Comments

gelato2Shall we explain why gelato is good? I don’t think so…

Gelato is part of our culture, like pizza and pasta, fashion, soccer, wine … These are not commonplaces, but true statements about everyday life in Rome. In Italy there are more than 35 thousands “gelateria” and Italians eat an average of 75 cups or cones of gelato each year (six kilos!). This implies we know how to judge a good gelato and how to skip tourist traps. Here is our selection divided by areas, but feel free to suggest us new entries !

In any case, do not line for a gelato more than 5 minutes! We have so many gelato shops and no one can be considered ” the best in town”… Gelato is a pleasure, if you have to queue too long, part of the pleasure is lost already!

And do not forget our local tradition in Rome, the “grattachecca“!!! It is the best relief for the hot summer days, and if you have to queue for that, well, this is an experience and you’ll feel like a real Roman! My favorite is “Sora Maria” , the kiosk along Via Trionfale, near the Vatican, but you have several other opportunities (Piazzale Ponte Milvio, where the summer movida is! Or Piazza del Porto di Ripetta near the Spanish Steps, or “Fonte D’Oro” and “Sora Mirella” near Trastevere and finally, Porta Cavalleggeri just next to St. Peter’s square).

And remember… “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy ice cream. And that’s kind of the same thing!”

PS. Do not forget we offer the Gelato Tasting Tour in the centre (children love to evaluate best gelato while sightseeing!) and we can arrange a “Gelato Making Class” for you! 


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Eating in Rome

aromaThere is such a wide choice of places and options to eat in Rome (…just some street food? A gelato? A fancy restaurant with view? Traditional trattoria? A wine-bar with some snacks? Midnight cornetto?) that it is impossible to list them all … We are “out there” everyday and we constantly ask for  feedbacks from our guests (and we also do “quality checks” ourselves, ehehehe!), so here you find the links to our blogposts about food and drinks to let you plan your gourmet breaks in Rome!


You’ll never starve in Rome !

Posted on Mar 9, 2015 in Foodies & Shopaholics | No Comments

cartello“Unsurprisingly, she knows all the best places to eat in Rome, including a gelateria that serves a frozen rice pudding (and if they don’t serve this kind of thing in heaven, then I really don’t want to go there.) She took me out to lunch the other day, and what we ate included not only lamb and truffles and carpaccio rolled around hazelnut mousse but an exotic little serving of pickled lampascione, which is –as everyone knows—the bulb of the wild hyacinth.”

Just one quote from the novel “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. The first part of the book – which is “Eat”! – is all set in Rome and the main character goes to Italy to, one, learn the beautiful language and two, to eat to her heart’s desires.

Once you are here you’ll understand you can never (never!) starve in Rome, there is always a place around the corner serving food. Of course, not all restaurants are alike, not all the trattoria are unforgettable and prices aren’t always as reasonable as we’d hope for. However, there are lots of choices and sometimes picking one place from such an embarassement of options is hard. Lately there are plenty of updated websites, blogs and forums to help you out.

But if you do not have time to surf the web, we have here a little list of places we like, just for a last minute reference:

  • Antico Arco: elegant atmosphere, international cuisine, prepared staff, far from the crowd (Gianicolo hill, perfect for a romantic stroll after dinner)
  • Il Bocconcino: next to the Colosseum, a restaurant following the “zero mile” rules and the “slow food” philosophy…
  • Ai Bozzi: in Trastevere, serving local cuisine with a pleasant “dehors”. Good choice of fish recipes, not so easy to find in Rome.
  • La Cabana: cozy restaurant mid way between Trevi Fountain and Piazza Venezia. Fresh fish, grilled meat, homemade pasta and desserts, kind professional staff.
  • Cavour 313: a refined wine bar near the Colosseum. You go there for the wine but food is damn good as well!
  • Il Chianti: next to Trevi fountain, a cozy place where a buffet is served for lunch and Tuscan specialities are the hit of the dinner menu.
  • I Clementini: next to Basilica di San Clemente church (do not miss it!) and few steps away from the Colosseum, a cozy Hostaria serving traditional food with great attention to quality of the ingredients.
  • Colline Emiliane: a gourmet experience in a family run restaurant, not far from Trevi fountain and Piazza Barberini. Handmade pasta is the specialty of the house, but every dish is a pleasant surprise!
  • Costanza: local cuisine served in an “archaeological attraction”, the ruins of the Theatre of Pampey (next to Campo dei Fiori)
  • Ditirambo : traditional cuisine and cozy atmosphere. Near Campo dei Fiori.
  • Taverna dei Fori Imperiali: mid way between Piazza Venezia and the Colosseum, in the Rione Monti. A family run restaurant serving good quality food and a cozy atmosphere suitable to a quiet chat
  • La Gensola: elegant restaurant in Trastevere, next to the Isola Tiberina.
  • Trattoria Gino: if a restaurant can survive in the XXI century with no website, it means the food is really good! Here some Tripadvisor reviews where you find the contacts (it is located in Vicolo Rosini, 4, next to the Italian Parliament)
  • Gigetto: try the Jewish-Roman cuisine in the former Jewish Ghetto. Do not miss the fried artichokes!
  • Gusto: where you find a bit of everything, from pizza, to Sunday brunch, to fusion cuisine. Near the Corso.
  • Il Fico: local specialties in a relaxing setting, just in the middle of the Roma’s movida (Piazza Navona side alleys)
  • I Sanpietrini: not far from St. Peter’s square (where is harder to skip tourists traps!) a cozy restaurant with some tables outdoor for the summer, a bit of innovation combined with tradition.
  • Interno 92 : not for veggies! You will find a meat counter at the entrance and a butcher recommending the best cuts to be prepared in four ways: raw, grilled, fried or pan-baked. Near the Vatican.
  • Maccheroni: between Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, a warm atmosphere welcomes you to relax and eat Italian specialties, above all pasta, of course.
  • Madre: difficult to give a definition to this place…. Open all day, serving food in a relaxing lounge that looks like a garden…. the influence from Latin America is clear in the menu, so this is the place to go when you are tired of Italian traditional food. But pizza is still here, ehehehe!
  • Il Margutta: not so easy to find a vegetarian restaurant in Rome! Located not far from the Spanish Steps, it also offers brunch and the bistrot formula to snack at any time.
  • Merulana: one of the rare cases in Rome where you can eat at any time! Near San Giovanni basilica.
  • Monti 79: a traditional “taverna romana”, few tables, quick service, better to reserve a table. Not far from the Colosseum, in the cozy district of Monti.
  • Obicà: a mozzarella bar overlooking the lively piazza Campo dei Fiori. Perfect for people-watching and for a light meal.
  • Osteria Margutta: lovely restaurant and seasonal recipes not far from the Spanish Steps.
  • Passaguai: a meeting place, near the Vatican, open for lunch, dinner and in between!
  • Porto Fluviale: trattoria, pizzeria, small tastings, aperitivo, brunch….everything! In the young setting of the “trendy” district of Ostiense.
  • Qui nun se more mai: literally the name means “here you never die”! It’s a traditional Roman “trattoria”, not stylish but still genuine, with the embers to cook meat, cheese and vegetables of the season, good pasta and simple desserts of the house. and it is along the ancient Appian Way, which adds to its charm
  • Romolo: traditional dishes in the garden where Raffaello used to meet his lover “la Fornarina”…soooo romantic!
  • Spirito Divino: genuine products, homemade cuisine, “slow food” philosophy and an incredible cellar filled with wine AND history! Ask the owners about the archeological excavations….In the quiet side of Trastevere.
  • Taverna degli Amici : in an intimate and silent piazza next to the chaotic   Piazza Venezia, enjoy a traditional roman menu and a good glass of wine
  • Da Teo: in Trastevere, but the quiet side! A seasonal menu, some tables outdoors and friendly ambient
  • Al Tettarello: traditional restaurant and pizzeria in Monti, warm atmosphere
  • Trattoria Monti: near S.Maria Maggiore basilica, not easy to see, not cheap, but it’s worth the effort!
  • La Vecchia Lupiae: in Testaccio, if you wish to try a different cuisine, typical from the southern Italian region called Apulia.
  • Vecchia Roma: since 1916, a traditional trattoria near Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica

And if you are not hungry yet… watch this video and you’ll be soon !

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Shops we like

Posted on Mar 9, 2015 in Foodies & Shopaholics, On your own | No Comments

Girl riding a motorcycle carrying shopping bags

In Rome the retail trade is still carried on at street level rather than in impersonal malls, and there are still chances to find unique shops run by local craftsmen, where you can find that special gift that you just can’t find elsewhere.

If you’re looking for bargains, note that the winter and summer sales begin on the first Saturdays of January and July, and run for around a month.

We do not want to provide a complete list of shops for each category/item/area…. internet is full of them… But we will add – from time to time – some addresses of nice shops we like and we visit while touring with friends or buying gifts for our family or popping in during a relaxed stroll in the centre.

And you are welcome to suggest your own favorite shops!

  • Fabriano boutique:  quality paper (Michelangelo used the paper produced by their paper mills!) and stationary items. Near the Spanish Steps.
  • Angelo Di Nepi : fashion for women, a local independent stylist. Several boutiques in Rome.
  • Archeo Roma : replicas of ancient Roman artifacts from jewellery to gladiators’ weapons… Near Piazza Venezia.
  • I colori di dentro : delicate watercolors by Maria Grazia Luffarelli. Near Campo dei Fiori.
  • Negozio Benedettino: in the beautiful garden of S.Anselmo church, on Aventino hill (Piazza Cavalieri di Malta, 5. Closed on Mondays). You’ll find an herbalist shop, spirits and craft beers produced by the monks, cosmetics and religious items.
  • Bartolucci: pine-wood hand-made toys and gifts for your children. Near the Pantheon.
  • La Bottega del Marmoraro : located along the street of the artists (Via Margutta 53B), a tiny workshop where you can buy a pseudo-Roman tablet with an inscription of your choice for a very reasonable price.
  • Cravatte D’Angelo: tailored made ties, something unique for a very personal souvenir. In Trastevere.
  • Polidori: leather bags, each one is an original creation of the owner Federico Polidori (Via Piè di Marmo, 7). Near the Pantheon.
  • Ibiz: well-priced colorful leather goods (wallets, bags, belts and sandals). Near Campo dei Fiori.
  • Fabi38: tiny narrow shop at Via Frattina 38 selling quality purses and leather accessorises  for a honest price.
  • WeBag Lab & Shop: handcrafted leather bags and accessories. They can also customise your bag. Just a few steps from the Pantheon.
  • Patrizia Corvaglia Jewelry: her creation are metal ideas, unique shapes carved just for you in the ancient technique of the “lost wax” process. On Via dei Banchi Nuovi, between Castel S.Angelo and Piazza Navona
  • Spazio IF: IF stands for Irene Ferrara, the Sicilian designer of unique models of bags and accessories (belt, jewels, scarfs but also some clothing) . Really hand made “cool stuff”, have a look! It’s on Via dei Coronari 44.
  • L’Artigianato: just on Piazza Navona, a good stop for your souvenirs (they also ship items worldwide), from toys to homeware articles, traditional pottery or Murano glass (if you forgot to buy that last gift in Venice!) and main Made in Itay brands (what about a Bialetti Moka?)
  • Chez Marcel: on Via Canestrari 7, just outside that Piazza Navona where Marcel used to perform for decades his original show of “dancing fingers”, you find now his tiny shop selling unique souvenirs with his own drawings on every kid of support.

A break for a “panino

Posted on Mar 9, 2015 in Foodies & Shopaholics | No Comments

Mortadella-Post-IV” In every major city in the Western world, some things are always the same. (…) But some things are only in Rome. Like the sandwich counterman so comfortably calling me “beautiful” every time we speak. You want this panino grilled or cold, bella?” – Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

While it is usually easy to find a good pizza or a hot dish of pasta in every trattoria in Rome, it is not so easy to get a good healthy fresh “panino” (sandwich). Therefore we decided to list here some good addresses near the touristic areas. And we welcome your suggestions to keep the list updated:

  • Fa-bio: tiny shop, no seats and a bit to wait as they prepare your sandwich in front of you! Organic ingredients and vegan options. Great smoothies too. Near the Vatican.
  • Gaudeo: a sandwich for each Italian region with fresh ingredients. A trip through our Peninsula, not only a panino! In the delightful area of Monti, not far from the Colosseo (mid way between Via Nazionale and Via Cavour).
  • Roscioli: not only bread and pizza to take away here, but the famous “pizza bianca e mortadella”, a typical alternative to a sandwich in Rome (in the picture). Near Campo dei Fiori. We are sorry for vegetarians!
  • PaPo Bistrot  few steps away from the Spanish Steps, great unusual sandwiches, smoothies and comfort. And here you can also sit down at a real table!
  • Vero: sandwiches, but also salads and sushi. A good spot to sit down, rest with a cake and mug of hot tea or a frozen milkshake depending on the season. Mid way between the Vatican and Piazza del Popolo.

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“Snacking” in Rome

Posted on Mar 5, 2015 in Foodies & Shopaholics, On your own | No Comments

When you travel, you often want to devote most of your time to visits and experiences… food is surely an experience, but a full meal can easily “use” more than an hour of your precious time abroad… that’s why many people ask for quick lunch options, but they do not look for just a “panino” (we have another blog post just for that!). Bars selling sandwiches or “pizza al taglio” (pizza to take away) do not have enough room to sit and rest, which is another need, after walking for hours in town. Nevertheless Rome is one of the best places to just sit outdoor and people-watching while nibbling away at a cornetto&cappuccino or enjoying a glass of wine with cold cuts and local cheese…


Here a short list of addresses to relax and have a bite which is not a proper meal:

  • Babington’s: a traditional English tearoom since 1893! Not cheap at all, but you enter another world and another age and forget the crowds and the noise…
  • La Buvette : elegant cafeteria near the Spanish Steps, perfect for breakfast, a coffee break, a tea party or aperitivo.
  • Café Cafè: a bistro next to the Colosseum, where you can relax with an infuse or tea during the cold months or with a fresh smoothie when the day is hot. They serve a buffet lunch on Sundays and are open from 10 a.m. to late at night.
  • Canova Tadolini: posh cafeteria mid way between the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo, formerly the atelier of a team of famous sculptors, Antonio Canova and his pupil Adamo Tadolini. You’ll sip your cappucino surrounded by casts, statues and ancient tools!
  • Chiostro del Bramante: a unique cafeteria in a Renaissnace cloister designed by Bramante, few blocks away from Piazza Navona and offering a private special view over the fresco of “The Sybils” by Raffaello in the adjoining church of S.Maria della Pace. Just in Rome….!
  • Etabli: shabby chic environment, a fireplace on during winter, couch  and armchairs …. perfect spot to relax near Piazza Navona. And yes, you can eat too, at any time!
  • Fabrica: perfect for a cup of tea, hot chocolate or a relaxing coffee time in the afternoon of a winter month, but not only! They also serve great cocktails and drinks before and after dinner and a bistrot style menu. Not far from the Vatican.
  • Freni e Frizioni: in Trastevere, a famous place for “aperitivo” mingling with locals and expats from all over the world. Buffet and drinks from 6 p.m.
  • Fresco: few couch  seats and chairs to rest a bit while eating a gourmet “panino”, few dishes of a day, an healthy salad and great wine. Not far from Piazza Navona.
  • Il Goccetto: a nice wine bar, not far from Campo dei Fiori. They serve a cold buffet and 800 labels of wines!
  • Magazzino Scipioni: a winebar of great quality, where you can taste some food to accompany your glass of wine. In the Vatican area.
  • Open Baladin: few steps from Largo Argentina and Campo dei Fiori, open from noon to late night and perfect for craft beer lovers!
  • Cantina Ripagrande: in Trastevere, a small “cellar” to drink some wine and snack cold dishes. Cozy atmosphere.
  • Shari Vari: not far from the Pantheon, you have a club open from breakfast to the first lights of dawn! Perfect for a coffee, a drink, a quick and inexpensive buffet lunch, the ritual of “aperitivo” or a more formal dinner…. especially if you wish to end the night on a dance floor!
  • Tiepolo : a bistrot where you can enjoy a mediterranean creative cuisine, a lot of vegetarian options, a cozy warm atmosphere between Trastevere and the Pantheon/Piazza Venezia.
  • Ai Tre Scalini : “bottiglieria” i.e. a wide choice of beers, wines, spirits but also something to eat while drinking, look at the board for the menu of the day! In the nice ‘hood of Monti, not far from the Colosseum.
  • Vivi Bistrot: Caffè Braschi is a new charming cafeteria serving lunch and dinner, but also delicious desserts for a break overlooking Piazza Navona.  Another location is not far from Trevi fountain and the headquarter is in Villa Pamphili park where they also prepare cute little baskets for a pic-nic on the grass…A new opening is inside the gorgeous Galleria Borghese.

And to conclude… if you wish to satisfy your gluttony and your hunger late at night, maybe after a long walk or a bit of clubbing, you can join the young Romans in this little ritual, the “night cornetto”! Bakeries (or better said “cornetterie”, which only bake cornetti, not bread) work all night to prepare cornetti for the following day and you can buy them hot, when they are just out of the oven and filled in many different ways (Nutella filling is the most popular, but try also the wholemeal cornetto with honey!). You will surely meet young “urban tribes” chatting and indulging in this whim out of those places:



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Shopping streets in Rome

Posted on Nov 14, 2011 in Foodies & Shopaholics, On your own | No Comments

Le artigiane little mall

The best souvenir you can take back home with you is a good “made in Italy” article: a dress for your parties, an elegant bag or pair of shoes, a silk tie, a little piece of art (a waterpainting for instance), a design furniture for your house…

Good shops selling nice manifactured products are quite everywhere and we would not know where to start in listing some of them, we just give you a short list of streets where you can find good shops:

  • the elegant Via Condotti for deluxe brands and stylist ateliers (but also the nearby Via delle Carrozze, Via Borgognona, Via Bocca di Leone, Via del Babbuino…)
  • Via del Corso for those who cannot spend 500 euros for a pair of shoes! (but also Via Frattina and Via della Croce)
  • Via dei Giubbonari near Campo dei Fiori where the atmosphere is cooler (and in little side streets you can still find handicraftsmen working in front of your eyes), or the Via del Governo Vecchio for emerging designers and vintage shops
  • Via Cola di Rienzo if you are staying in the Vatican area
  • Via Giulia, Via dei Coronari, Via dei Banchi Nuovi (all around Navona area) if you are looking for antiques
  • a nice venue to check is Le Artigiane  near the Pantheon: it is a store where you can find several temporary shops, they always change and you can find there from organic food to a new unique jewel produced just in 10 copies by a (still!) unknown Tuscan artisan girl