I'm from Rome, and these 7 restaurants near the Colosseum are where I eat to avoid tourist traps
I've eaten at countless restaurants throughout Rome, including near landmarks like the Colosseum.
While some restaurants can be tourist traps, as a local, I know authentic options nearby.
Here of my 7 favorite places to eat within a 30-minute walk of the Colosseum.
Growing up in Rome as the daughter of a restaurant owner, I got to know where to eat in the busiest neighborhoods.
I grew up in Rome before moving to the US at 18. For me, like for many Italians, sharing food is a beloved family ritual.
I grew up hanging around my father's restaurant kitchen, and going out to eat with my family is always an hours-long affair. At most restaurants, we get appetizers, first and second courses, sides, and some kind of dessert, all washed down with wine and topped off with an espresso.
In my experience, many tourists in Rome tend to stick to restaurants right in front of the big landmarks, like the much-visited Colosseum. But I've found these spots to be overpriced and not the best quality.
There are several restaurants, however, within walking distance of the Colosseum that meet my standards as a local, including some where my family has been eating for years.
Here are the spots I'd recommend tourists choose for authentic food, each within a 30-minute walk from the Colosseum, or 20-minute taxi ride, that range from no-frills pizzerias to old-school trattorias.
La Taverna Cestia has been my family's go-to restaurant for classic Roman dishes for over 30 years.
I've been going to La Taverna Cestia since I was born, while my parents have been eating there for over 30 years. My family and I, including our dog, usually eat there at least once a week, typically on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon.
The restaurant is dog-friendly, and since we've known the staff and owners for years, they often give us an extra chair for our small Shih Tzu.
The restaurant, which is family-run and opened in 1967, is a simple, two-floor space and serves a range of classic Roman pizza, pasta, fish, and meat dishes. It has an outdoor dining area with a view of the Roman-era Pyramid of Caius Cestius and Porta San Paolo, a city gate dating to the 3rd century AD. When the weather is nice, we sit outside, and I love being able to see the ancient monuments while I eat.
It's my favorite restaurant for typical Roman appetizers, like anchovies marinated in olive oil and chili flakes, and fried artichokes and pumpkin flowers. I also enjoy the spaghetti with clams and the wood-fired pizza, which is served only at dinner.
For one of the best versions of carbonara I've tried, I go to Osteria da Fortunata, near a popular square called Campo de'Fiori.
Whenever I'm craving carbonara, I head to to Osteria da Fortunata. Carbonara is one of my favorite pastas — it's a traditional Roman dish made with pecorino cheese, black pepper, eggs, and guanciale, or pork jowl. This quaint restaurant serves one of the best versions I've tried.
It has indoor and outdoor seating, and is located on a cobblestone street near Campo de'Fiori, a square that hosts a market during the day and is surrounded by lively bars and going-out spots in the evening.
It opened in 1921, and since then has become known among locals like me for its homemade pasta, which the restaurant says is made from a special family recipe. I've enjoyed watching the staff make it in front of the restaurant's windows, which I think is also a fun perk of eating here.
I always order the carbonara when I eat at this restaurant. Friends I've visited with have been equally obsessed with the cacio e pepe pasta, as well as the amatriciana pasta, which is made with tomato sauce, guanciale, and pecorino cheese.
Cul de Sac has over 1,500 wines and is my favorite spot for a casual tagliere, or Italian-style charcuterie board.
My mother introduced me to this wine bar and restaurant a few years ago, and it's quickly become one of my favorite spots in the city. Whenever I'm home, I make it a point to visit Cul de Sac for a mid-afternoon or early evening flute of Prosecco and a tagliere, which is an Italian charcuterie board of meats and cheeses.
It's in Piazza di Pasquino, a quiet offshoot of the larger and busier Piazza Navona. The physical drinks menu, which my mother refers to as "the bible," is thick with over 1,500 wines, champagnes, and proseccos available by the bottle or glass.
I find the inside of the restaurant to be cozy and intimate. While Cul de Sac serves full meals, I usually opt for a tagliere because I can choose my preferred meats and cheeses.
I like to get three meats, such as salame, prosciutto, and soppressata, and three cheeses, like burrata, taleggio, and truffle crutin. The portions are generous, in my opinion, and I often struggle to finish my plate, so I think it's a nice option for tourists to share an afternoon snack.
Pizzeria Remo a Testaccio is popular among locals like me for Roman-style pizza, and there's often a long line to get inside.
Pizzeria Remo is my favorite pizza place in the city. It's located on the corner of Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice, which is the the main square in Testaccio, a neighborhood south of the Colosseum.
It's small and casual, with some outdoor seating on the sidewalk. The pizzeria only makes Roman-style pizzas, a few sides, and fritti, which are fried appetizers like french fries, potato croquettes, and suppli, or fried rice and mozzarella balls.
I like eating here because I find Roman-style pizza, which is thin and crispy, to be much lighter on the stomach than the doughier Neapolitan-style pizza. Even on a hot summer's day, I can easily eat an entire Roman pizza and not feel too full.
At Remo, I usually get a margherita pizza with dollops of fresh buffalo mozzarella, or the diavola, a margherita pizza with spicy salami, and pair it with a Peroni or Sardinia-based Ichnusa beer. The restaurant can get noisy, but I think that's part of the charm, and the authentic pies make any waiting in line worth it.
Old-school Taverna Romana in the hipster neighborhood of Monti is a recent discovery of mine.
The neighborhood of Monti is a 10-minute walk from the Colosseum and home to a number of funky bars, restaurants, and vintage shops. It's an arsty neighborhood with street art and historic buildings covered in vines, and is what I consider the city's hipster hotspot.
I found Taverna Romana just over a year ago, and was charmed by its old-school vibe and classic Roman food. The restaurant rotates seasonally depending on fresh produce, and also serves a house wine in carafes that's cheaper than a regular bottled wine, but just as good, in my opinion.
I'm a big fan of their amatriciana, which I usually wash down with a house white wine.
For what I consider the Holy Trinity of pastas at a budget-friendly price, I head to Flavio al Velavevodetto.
I often go to Flavio al Velavevodetto for what I like to call the Holy Trinity of traditional Roman pastas: carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe.
I usually eat here with my childhood friend, and we like to order the amatriciana and carbonara so we can share both plates. I consider it to be one of the more affordable options for Roman food in the city, as the pasta dishes are good quality and cost around 12 to 13 euros, or about $12 to $13, as of my most recent visit.
There's a page in the restaurant menu, written in both English and Italian, that says, "in this restaurant we don't serve spaghetti with meatballs, fettuccine Alfredo style, fettuccine Bolognese style, lasagna, or cappuccino." I laugh whenever I see it because it's the Roman way of saying, "we don't cater to tourists."
It's a sizable restaurant with two floors of indoor and outdoor seating, but I recommend making a reservation in the busy summer months when it can be fully booked.
For small bites, I go to Osteria delle Coppelle, which has charming outdoor seating.
I primarily go to Osterie delle Coppelle for their cicchetti, which are small plates similar to tapas in Spain. When I've been, each dish has cost about 3 euros, or around $3, with options like oxtail stew, potatoes in a cacio e pepe sauce, or coratella, which is lamb entrails with artichokes.
To me, the restaurant is a balance between old-school and fusion food. The menu has pizzas and pastas, as well as bites like salmon sashimi with ginger and tuna tartare with guacamole.
I've only ever eaten outside, even in the winter, because I find the outdoor setting to be so charming. It's in a small square called Piazza delle Copelle, which has a fountain and is surrounded by antique, pastel-colored buildings.
There's a daily fruit and vegetable market in the square, which I think is a fun opportunity for people-watching. When I've been during busy nights in the summer, the square is mostly taken over by the restaurant and its customers, and almost feels like a neighborhood block party.
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