Updated May 2019 - When you think about outdoor dining in Rome, does it conjure up visions of you in sunglasses, sitting in a lovely piazza, perhaps with a fountain or gorgeous backdrop, sipping your wine and languorously enjoying watching the world go by?
There are lots of options for outdoor dining in Rome, where you can enjoy some views, some green space, and lots of people-watching.
Outdoor Dining in Rome - more chaos than joy?
If you ask an Italian where to dine "al fresco", they may wonder why you want to go to prison.
That's what this phrase means in Italian, even if, literally, it means "in the fresh air".
Think about it, don't we use the slang word "the cooler", to refer to jail?
When I think about sitting outside to eat in Rome, I often think of tables plunked haphazardly onto cramped sidewalks, noisy scooters and dusty cars zipping by, cigarette smoke crowding my air, and street musicians and rose-sellers coming by constantly to interrupt my meal and stress me out.
(On the other hand, one visitor recently told me he thought the noise and crowds and chaos added to the ambiance, and that, for him, it was all part of the experience.)
Restaurant in Rome with outdoor seating, along with noisy cars going by
Look, I love Rome. I love eating in Rome, I love walking around Rome and seeing the beautiful fountains and piazzas and ambiance all around me. It’s just not always easy to mix these things well.
A not uncommon sight in Rome - tables plunked onto the street to allow for outside dining
Of course, you don't need me to tell you where to go for outside dining in Rome (although, on all my food pages on this site, I do include information about whether or not a restaurant has outdoor seating).
As pictured at the top of this page, you can also find plenty of places for eating outside in Rome's gorgeous piazzas. I am not recommending any of them here, because for the most part, you really are paying (quite a bit more) for the view than anything else.
(Having a drink there, on the other hand, is entirely another matter. Go for it!)
My Favorite Places for Outdoor Dining in Rome
If on the other hand, like me, you would like to experience outdoor dining in Rome, in a relaxing, calm ambiance, smog/soot-free, and less chance of being approached by street-vendors during your meal, then I do have some great options for you. And, some of them also involve wonderful views as well.
I won’t be able to tell you anywhere to eat outside in Rome that does not involve cigarette smoke.
So that is something you will need to accept if you decide you want to eat outside in Rome.
On this page I have listed only some of my favorite places for outdoor dining in Rome, where I think the outdoor-dining experience is particularly good, or special. If you want to jump immediately to any one category, here they are:
Many of Rome's best trattorias simply don't have any outside space, and in any case, rely on the quality of their food to bring in patrons. These Rome trattorias will always be full anyway, because their loyal patrons don't go for the sitting-outside experience, but for the dining experience itself.
Armando al Pantheon - always full, and not a single table outside
That said, there are a few excellent trattorias in Rome with outdoor seating that have both. I don't mean very basic just ok places to eat, I mean, some of the best. At all of the below trattorias, I'd go there any time of year, and always for the food. It's just that they also happen to have some nice outside seating as well.
Settimio All'Arancio is one of Rome's best trattorias, with a very local clientele, excellent Roman cuisine and seafood, and an extensive wine list. They also have a pretty nice setting for eating outside.
Settimio All'Arancio - one of Rome's best trattorias, with a nice ambiance for outside dining
Their outside section is properly separated from the street, and the tables are somewhat protected by some cute little green shrubs. Even though it is on a street, it's a little cobblestone side street, with hardly any traffic at all, so eating outside here is usually a lovely experience.
I come to Da Cesare al Casaletto for the food. It's a little far out of the center (but so easily reached on the 8 tram line), so it has to be good to warrant the trip there. And it is. Beyond good. Let's say, it's divine.
So come for the food. But if you also want a really excellent a Rome trattoria with a lovely setting for outside dining, Da Cesare has both. They have a spacious, private patio, surrounded by plants and covered with an awning and grapevines, for a cozy intimate feel.
Da Cesare al Casaletto has a spacious, cozy and convivial ambiance for outdoor dining
Details: Via del Casaletto, 45; Colli Portuense area; Tel: 06 536015. Tram 8 from piazza Venezia or from Trastevere.
Hours: Open Thursday - Tuesday for lunch and dinner. Closed Wednesday.
You will find an abundance of places to eat, and certainly many with outdoor tables. But many of these places are touristy (not great food, not-always fair pricing, and sometimes different treatment towards tourists vs. locals).
A very Roman lunch at a very Roman spot in Trastevere. This is one of my favorite places for outdoor dining in Rome when I want Roman cuisine.
I almost hate to give away this gem, but it's so wonderful, I must share. If you want authentic, Roman food, in a lovely, tranquil setting, in a piazza with no traffic and very few street vendors, try Da Teo.
Details: Piazza dei Ponziani, 7A; Trastevere; Tel: 06 581 8355
Hours: Open Monday - Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday.
Antica Trattoria Da Carlone is one of those hidden neighborhood places where the locals go, and the tourists don't seem to find.
But it's smack in the heart of Trastevere, an area which normally has a pretty busy ambiance, making eating outdoors there either chaotic or fun, depending on your point of view.
Antica Trattoria Da Carlone has a few cozy tables for outside dining
Da Carlone is on a fairly quiet side street, on the less busy side of Trastevere. There may be a bit of light local traffic and probably street vendors, so it's not the perfect experience for outdoor dining in Rome. But, you will have great, simple Roman cuisine in a pretty setting.
Details: Via della Luce, 5; Trastevere; Tel: 06 580 0039
Hours: Open Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
I eat pretty frequently at Roberto e Loretta because I love it and because I live nearby. And, it happens to be one of the few places in Rome I also love eating outside.
They are on a neighborhood street but at night it's very quiet. And their outside seating area is on the sidewalk, not the street. It's surrounded by leafy vines and trees, and the lighting under the above canopies is just right, making for a relaxing, warm ambiance for outdoor dining in Rome.
The setting for dining outside at Roberta e Loretta is really lovely and peaceful
Details: Via Saturnia, 18; San Giovanni area; Tel: 06 7720 1037. Metro A to San Giovanni
Hours: Open Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
Different options for eating outside at Flavio al Velavevodetto
The inside ambiance is a bit cramped but it's because the restaurant is built into an ancient Roman hillside in one of Rome's most historic neighborhoods. You can even see parts of the shards behind glass. So when you eat inside, you are eating in small rooms, mostly with no outside view at all.
When you eat outside, you might be in their inner courtyard, which I also don't love, because it's walled in and not that scenic. But, they do have some cute little tables up above, along the balcony.
Rome has a lot of green space and beautiful parks. Most of the parks have museums or other cultural buildings in them. And so there are also places to eat.
Typically, eating in cafe in a park means you are enjoying the ambiance more than the quality of the food. There are a few exceptions. My favorites are the first two.
Pizzeria Fermentum - Parco degli Acquedotti
Before sitting down for a fun pizza dinner at Fermentum, take a little stroll around the park and enjoy the sun setting and gorgeous light
This is outdoor dining in Rome, really local-style. Romans flock to Fermentum pizzeria for the delicious, cheap pizza and fritti, but also because in warm weather, it's a magnet for locals who want to enjoy a casual fun evening with friends or family in a gorgeous outdoor setting.
Sitting on the veranda and enjoying a pizza at Fermentum is a very local Roman thing to do
Visiting the Villa Torlonia is a treat all by itself. It's a little visited (by tourists) estate and park, with fantastic museums and beautifully kept grounds. You can go for free to the park and just enjoy the green spaces, fountains and flowers, or you can pay to go into the museums as well.
During nice weather, the outside tables at La Limonaia fill up quickly, especially for lunch. (They do have inside dining as well.) The food is fine, not amazing, but the experience is just wonderful.
Inside Villa Torlonia, you will find this gorgeous setting for eating outside
Details: Via Lazzaro Spallanzani, 1A Tel: 06 440 4021 (numerous buses including the 60, 62, and 80, all stopping on via Nomentana)
The Villa Pamphilj park is one of the largest in Rome. But it only has one place to eat.
I would not have even known about it except for my pal Gillian, fellow Rome resident and blogger extraordinaire, who wrote a great review of her recent brunch there. I trusted Gillian's tastes and tried it myself recently. She was right! They have a nice selection of fresh and organic food. You can eat inside or outside.
The photo below is Gillian's since she ate there for an outdoor brunch, and when I went, it was a little chilly so I ate inside. But when it's nice out, it's a great option for outdoor dining in Rome.
Cinecaffe, Casina del Lago, Caffè delle Arti, Casina Valadier - Villa Borghese
The Villa Borghese is one of Rome's most central and largest parks. There are several places for eating outdoors here, from very basic cafe's to upscale posh restaurants.
You will find lots of options for eating outside in the Villa Borghese park in Rome
The Cinecaffe is probably the most accessible, as it's right in front of the Cinema house, not far from the top of Via Veneto. There are a few tables on the lawn and many more under the awning of the cafe itself. The food is nothing special, but it's always popular with Roman families, especially on Sundays.
The Casina del Lago is more inside the park, and has a really beautiful setting with a view of the swan lake, but the food is pretty terrible.
The two nicest restaurants for eating outside at the Villa Borghese are the Casina Valadier near the top of the Spanish Steps, arguably one of the most expensive and upscale restaurants in the area, and, the Caffè delle Arti restaurant inside the Museum of Fine Arts, all the way on the other end of the park.
The Tiber river in Rome is not as scenic to be on as it is to look at (with some exceptions.) Unlike the Seine in Paris, or the Danube in Budapest, it's not really a thing to take a boat up and down the river and "see Rome."
Despite this, there are a few excellent options for enjoying outdoor dining in Rome, right on the Tiber.
La Baja is a riverboat permanently moored on the Tiber, not far from the Piazza del Popolo. They have a sleek inside and outside space, and even a deck with sun-chairs.
Options for outside dining in Rome here range from Sunday brunch (Italian style), to a sunny lunch, to evening cocktails and aperitivo or dinner. And the food is excellent, to boot.
La Baja riverboat on the Tiber offers great options for eating outside in Rome
Also an excellent spot for serious signature cocktails.
Details: Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia; Tel: 333 341 9780 (metro line A to Flaminia)
Hours: Open year-round, Monday for lunch only, and Tuesday - Sunday from 11am - 2am.
Every summer, from mid-June until early-September, the banks of the Tiber river fill up with restaurants, bars, cafe's and shops. There is a fantastic outdoor vibe, and it's fun to even just stroll along and take in the scene. (There are nightly movies and concerts, too.)
Just walk along and you'll definitely find lots of options for outdoor dining in Rome in summer.
It goes without saying that if you eat or drink on a rooftop, you are definitely not going to be bothered by traffic noises and fumes, or street vendors. There are lots of great options for outdoor dining in Rome on rooftops, especially at some of the larger, more posh luxury hotels (next section.) Most of the restaurants atop hotels will be expensive, and some are better than others.
I've listed a couple of those (that I know) here, but also some other "rooftop" spots that won't be so expensive, and you can definitely enjoy the fresh air, the food and the vibe.
(I put the word "rooftop" in quotes because some of the places below are not actually on a roof. They are however, up off the street, and protected from pedestrian and car traffic, and street vendors.)
One of the most pleasant places to enjoy a drink or simple meal is at the very top of the Spanish Steps. You are high up on a hill, and look out over the Roman rooftops all the way to Saint Peter's basilica in the far background.
Other than eating at the restaurant in the Hassler Hotel (1* Michelin star restaurant Imago is a splurge but worth it!), or their sister winebar, il Palazzetto (which is mostly just for a drink with snacks), another excellent option is the Ciampini Café du Jardin. It's more affordable but still a treat.
And the little fountain in the middle with live turtles is also a nice touch.
Ciampini Café du Jardin at the top of the Spanish Steps. A serene place for outdoor dining in Rome, with a view, and turtles!
Details: Piazza Trinita dei Monti; Tel: 06 678 5678
Hours: Open daily from spring through fall, from 8am non-stop until 11pm
All the luxury hotels in Rome have their own restaurants. Some of them have outdoor restaurants, and some have fantastic food, making the prices worthwhile. If price is not an issue, and you want really special outdoor dining in Rome, don't miss these:
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
I have had the pleasure of enjoying lunch outside at the L'Uliveto restaurant at the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria, one of the most exclusive resort hotels in Rome.
Even in February, it was such a gorgeous day we ate by the pool, so not only outdoor dining in Rome, but poolside dining in Rome!
Some of the best outdoor dining in Rome - poolside at the Cavlieri Waldorf Astoria
But the reason to come is for the chef, Fabio Boschero, and his food. We were treated to a spectacular truffle tasting menu, with each course more extraordinary than the last, right down to the chocolate truffle dessert. (The chef proposes a featured food each month, and you can get a tasting menu of that, or order a la carte.)
Cappellacci filled with porcini mushrooms and black truffles, served with an extra-aged parmesan foam - literally melt in your mouth!
As fabulous and as elegant as it is, the downstairs restaurant L'Uliveto of the Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria is not to be confused with the upstairs *** Michelin restaurant La Pergola, overseen by Executive Chef Heinz Beck.
I love this one-star * Michelin restaurant for the old-world classic feeling: the dining room is lushly decorated, the service is impeccable and discreet but always available, and my menu comes without prices (the menu with prices goes to my husband).
The views from the Mirabelle are magnificent, but the food is the reason to go. Photo credit: Robero Naldi Collection
The Mirabelle restaurant is at the top of one of Rome's most glorious and elegant old-world hotels, the luxury 5 *****Splendide Royal, just off the top of the via Veneto. Of course being a Michelin-star restaurant, you will eat and drink very well. And even if you don't get one of the coveted outside tables with a view of the Borghese Park and Rome, you can see it all even from inside.
Details: Via di Porta Pinciana, 14; via Veneto area; Tel: 06 4216 8838. Metro A to Barberini
One of my favorite places to enjoy a drink in Rome is on the rooftop of the luxury 5 ***** Hotel Raphael. The views are spectacular, because you are in the middle of Rome and can see something beautiful from every angle.
I have not eaten at their restaurant but have heard it's fantastic. I include it here because I know and love the location.
One of the most spectacular rooftop dining experiences in Rome, at the Terrace Bramante in the Hotel Raphael. Photo credit: Hotel Raphael
Details: Largo Febo, 2; Behind Piazza Navona; Tel: 06 682831
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner. The terrace is open only during nice weather. Otherwise, they also have an indoor restaurant.
Rome has some excellent options for eating seafood of all kinds (upscale, sushi, fried.) Many of the best seafood restaurants in Rome do not have outdoor dining.
But here are a couple with amazing food where you can have an enjoyable meal outside.
Osteria Der Belli
Despite the location of this fantastic, local restaurant right in the heart of Trastevere, you will be surprised to find out what a wonderful, homey vibe there is here. Leo serves up some of the best seafood in Rome, and you can enjoy it in this piazza just to the side of Trastevere's busiest piazza.
Definitely one of my go-to spots for seafood and outdoor dining in Rome, Osteria der Belli is surprisingly local.
If I think about outdoor dining in Rome, and I want seafood, Osteria Der Belli is my go-to spot (thanks a lot Maria of Heart Rome for introducing it to me).
Details: Piazza di Sant'Apollonia, 11; Tel: 06 580 3782
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
The seafood is super fresh, and divinely prepared. The outside tables are all on their own piazza, nicely spaced out, and umbrella-covered, which all make for a great experience for outdoor dining in Rome.
They happen to be one of the few really good seafood restaurants in Rome open on a Sunday, so in nice weather, book early!
Enjoying fresh delicious seafood outside at Pierluigi
Details: Piazza Dè Ricci, 144; Tel: 06 686 8717
Hours: Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday.
Capo Boi is in the quietly posh Coppedè neighborhood in the northern part of Rome. You may come here for the famously fresh and plentiful seafood dishes, or you may come to see and be seen, and do as the well-heeled Romans do: sit outside, lingering and chatting for hours over good food and wine, followed by a digestivo liqueur.
Sea bass appetizer at Capo Boi
Details: via Arno 80; Tel: 06 841 5535 Buses 38, 83 or 92, near Regina Margherita
Hours: Monday - Saturday for lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday.
In order for a restaurant to have outdoor seating, they need a permit, along with the proper space. Some/many Rome restaurants flout the law, and just plunk tables out on the street or sidewalk. In recent years, some mayors (not the current one) really cracked down on this "abusivismo."
For a while, it seemed the police would randomly go through a neighborhood in the city center, and without warning, start a "blitz", getting rid of all the tables, even if people are eating there. To see photos and videos of this kind of crackdown from a couple of years ago, visit this article from Corriere della Sera (in Italian.)
To my knowledge, every place I have written about on this page has legal outdoor seating.
Want to share this page on Pinterest? Pin it here!
Outdoor Dining in Rome - map
See the map below for all the places I wrote about on this page.
I'd love to hear what you think. Please leave a comment below.
If you enjoy the always-original content you find on this website, you are welcome to donate to help fund its enduring success. I work on this website full-time and gratefully accept donations to meet expenses.
Thank you so much!
Disclosure: If you make a purchase through a link on this page, I may receive a small commission - at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my site!