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?
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.)
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.
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).
If you simply walk around the different Rome neighborhoods during nice weather, you will see that many restaurants have some kind of outdoor seating. If they don't legally have it, they will find a way to create it even a little bit, even if it means putting tables literally on the street.
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!)
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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:
At the bottom of this page, you will find a map of places I list on this page, along with a downloadable list.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to see more places to eat near the Spanish Steps.
Details: Via dell'Arancio, 50; Spanish Steps area; Tel: 06 687 6119
Hours: Open Monday - Saturday lunch and dinner. Closed Sunday and most of August.
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.
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.
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.
The Trastevere dining scene can be difficult to navigate.
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).
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.
Da Fortunato at the Pantheon has been on the Rome restaurant scene for decades. Since Fortunato passed away a few years ago, the son has taken over, but the food is still Roman, and delicious.
And you cannot beat this view.
You won't get cars passing, but you will get street sellers and probably cigarette smoke.
But this is one spot for outdoor dining in Rome where you might not mind those things as much.
Details: Via del Pantheon, 55; Tel: 06 581 8355
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner. No closing date. Open in August, and open early for dinner (from 6pm).
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.
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.
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.
My latest discovery sort of belongs in a class by itself.
The cuisine is more innovative than a traditional Roman trattoria.
And while it's in a hotel (the beautiful Hotel Kolbe), it's not such a posh hotel that it's unaffordable.
We could call it outdoor dining in Rome in park, since the outdoor space is a garden.
Either way, Unique al Palatino needs to be on your list of places for fantastic outdoor dining in Rome, because of all the above.
Plus, it's right in the middle of the Palatine Hill!
Details: Via di San Teodoro, 48; Tel. +39 06 699 21077
Hours: Restaurant:12:30 -3 pm; 7 - 11pm. Bar: 11am - midnight. Garden: 8am - midnight
The fantastic traditional Roman cuisine at Flavio al Velavevodetto should be your primary reason for going here.
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.
So if you can get one of those, you can not only have fantastic cucina romana at Flavio, but you will be in a lovely, romantic setting outside. (Flavio has another location near the Vatican, which I like more for outdoor dining in Rome).
Details: Via di Monte Testaccio, 97; Testaccio; Tel: 06 574 4194
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner. Also open most holidays and most of August.
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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.
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.
Click here to read more about where to eat pizza in Rome.
Details: Via Lemonia, 214; Tuscolana neighborhood (Take Metro A to Giulio Agricola); Tel: 06 4548 1454
Hours: Open for dinner 19:30 - 00:30 Tuesday - Sunday. Closed Monday and two weeks over Christmas and New Years.
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.
Details: Via Lazzaro Spallanzani, 1A Tel: 06 440 4021 (numerous buses including the 60, 62, and 80, all stopping on via Nomentana)
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner.
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.
Details: Villa Doria Pamphili, entry on Via Vitellia, 102 (corner of piazzetta del Bel Respiro and via Leone XIII – Olimpica); Tel: 06 5827540
Hours: In winter, the cafe is open inside from 8am - 5pm daily. From mid-May until end of September, open daily from 8am until midnight.
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.
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.
See my map at the bottom of this page for locations of each of the above.
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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.
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.
This off the beaten track restaurant is worth making tracks for. I'd even say that Cuccurucu has just recently become one of my new favorite places for outdoor dining in Rome.
You want to eat outside and enjoy a lovely, scenic and tranquil experience? You want to eat with the Romans? Pizza? Fish? Steak? This is the place.
Details: 10, Via Capoprati; Tel: 06 37518558
Hours: Open daily lunch and dinner year-round. Open all of August (might close for lunch middle of August depending on the heat, but always open for dinner throughout August).
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.
For more information, visit their website: Roma Estate Lungotevere.
Details: River banks along both sides of the Tiber between Ponte Sublicio (Testaccio) and Ponte Sisto (Trastevere.)
Hours: Daily from 7pm, mid-June - early September (check the website).
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. And as a bonus, you might even have some kind of view, even an amazing view!
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.)
Want to enjoy an aperitivo on a Rome rooftop?
Check my page for Rome Rooftop Bars for the best places to go!
This 1* Michelin restaurant on the Aventine hill comes complete with café, wine-bar, cool outdoor open-space bar, and indoor/outdoor dining. The ambiance is divine, quiet and cozy.
Details: Viale Aventino, 121; Tel 06 45597350
Hours: Open Tuesday - Sunday for lunch and dinner. Closed Monday. Inside dining available when outside dining is not available.
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.
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:
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!
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.)
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.
La Pergola is Rome's only 3-star Michelin restaurant and booking and dining there are very different, considerably more upscale, experiences than what I am talking about on this page.
Details: Via Alberto Cadlolo 101; Tel: 06 3509 2145
Hours: Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Indoor dining always available.
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 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
Hours: Open daily for lunch and dinner
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.
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.
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.
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.
Pierluigi is a fixture on the Rome seafood scene.
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!
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.
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.
Rome restaurants with illegal outdoor seating
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.
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