Want to know where locals eat in Rome?
I don’t mean the Roman trattorias in all the guidebooks and on all the foodie blogs (there is nothing wrong with those, and I recommend many of them on this site.)
I’m talking about where to eat in Rome if you want down-home cooking, Roman style.
Some might call these non-touristy Roman trattorias.
It’s not that there are no tourists here.
But these places tend not to be on as many food blogs or in as many guidebooks because they are simple and often not particularly special. So you could call them not-very-touristy Roman trattorias.
This page is about our favorites of those really old-fashioned Rome trattorias.
These places are where the Romans (and we) go, when we don’t feel like cooking simple Roman food at home.
You will get just that - home cooking, nothing fancy. The quality will usually be good, although not necessarily something to wax poetic about.
You can expect to feel a little like you’ve stepped back in time, or maybe to someone’s mamma’s kitchen.
This is by no means an exhaustive guide to this type of restaurant in Rome. But it’s a pretty good start.
At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a map with all the restaurants where locals eat in Rome that I list on this page.
There are many more Rome neighborhoods than I've listed on this page, and as I said, there are many more of these simple trattorias where locals eat in Rome.
But this list will give you some excellent options in and near the center of Rome.
The area around Piazza Navona and even on the piazza itself is teeming with restaurants, pizzerias, wine bars, fast food and more. You will never be without something to eat in this part of town.
But this page is about homey Roman spots, and as for where locals eat in Rome near Piazza Navona, I have one spot in mind:
Trattoria Lilli is one of those hidden gems you have to know about.
You are not going to stumble upon it by just walking around Piazza Navona or even peeking down back streets.
Not to be trite but it really is tucked away.
Your best bet is to get a jug of the house wine.
And do NOT miss their sour cherry ricotta tart for dessert.
It doesn't get any more local than having pasta in your market!
Watch my video below:
Most of these places, especially right on the square, are are pretty touristy.
(There are only a couple right on the square where locals eat in Rome - Antica Hostaria Romanesca and Forno Campo de Fiori.)
If you head away from the square and meander down the little cobblestone streets, you will find some more spots where locals eat in Rome.
Here are our favorites:
Despite its location smack between the two big piazzas, Campo dei Fiori and Piazza Farnese, this little family-run hostaria is not a tourist trap.
Yes, you will find some tourists eating here, given the location, but Hostaria Farnese is as local as they come.
A Roman friend and I were talking once and somehow got on the subject of stracciatella soup (pictured at the top of this page).
My uncle used to love this dish and looked for it when he visited Italy.
But it's such a homey dish that it's not that easy to find in a restaurant, unless you go to a really local, simple spot.
My friend told me I HAD to come try the stracciatella soup at Settimio al Pelligrino, and she was right.
It's like it comes from mamma's kitchen, because it does.
Owners Mario and Teresa are hands-on. While Mario artfully masters the dining room crowd, Teresa (and sometimes Mario's mom) are often at the marble table in view, working away on batches of fresh pasta.
This place is not for everyone.
It's almost too simple.
But that's what this page is about.
Literally where locals eat in Rome when they don't feel like cooking.
The food is good but the reason to come here is that you don't feel like you've gone OUT to a restaurant (except for the part where you pay of course.)
You're going to find a really simple menu, with maybe 2-3 pasta choices, 3-4 meat choices, a few veggies, and some desserts.
I once tried to order a half-portion of pasta, because I like to try to keep it light, and also because I wanted to try more dishes.
Mario eyed me with distrust and stated that as long as I got a secondo (meat, as there was no other kind that night), it was ok.
When my pasta came, I asked for more sauce.
He sparingly spooned it over my dish, and when I asked for a bit more he said ok, as long as I ate it all, otherwise I would have to do the scarpetta (which is where you scoop up all the sauce with bread.)
He didn't need to tell me this, as I would have done it anyway.
You mind find this irritating, like your dad telling you to clean your plate.
I thought it was cute.
One final note, don't be put off by the entrance, which makes the place look closed.
You have to book in advance, and when you come, you have to ring the bell, and they will let you in.
Just go with it.
You have to head even more off the main piazzas to find this little gem.
Tiny wooden tables crammed next to each other make for a convivial atmosphere.
Look for the daily wines by the glass on the chalkboard.
Come early or reserve.
It's always full here.
One might think restaurants around the Trevi Fountain (and the nearby Spanish Steps) are as touristy as they come.
Yes, there is definitely a glut of those.
But there are some gems, too.
Here's where locals eat in Rome when they eat near the Trevi Fountain:
It can be hard to spot Trattoria Della Stampa as there are no tables outside.
There is a menu posted on the door.
You can ignore it.
Every day they do the shopping, and make food with whatever they bought.
When you sit down, they will come over and tell you what there is that day.
It's typical, simple Roman fare.
Meatballs, chicken with peppers, sautéed spinach.
I once stopped by to ask if they had carbonara on the menu, as a friend wanted to try some there.
The signora in white apron answered me "Why not? It's just a few ingredients. Sure, we make any of those dishes."
In other words, you can get all the typical Roman pastas there, because the dishes are so simple, and can be whipped up in a jiffy.
Why bother putting them on the menu when everyone knows you can just ask for them?
Hostaria Romana fits into a lot of other categories, but it's also where the locals eat in Rome.
When I come for lunch and sit in the back, I am surrounded by Romans, often people who live or work in the area.
I sometimes just get a plate of veggies and appetizers from their buffet, but I also love their gnocchi (on Thursdays), and their artichokes are superb.
You will definitely run into tourists here but don't let that put you off.
The food is Roman, plain, simple, and delicious.
One of the areas where you can eat near the Colosseum is Monti.
This is a favorite neighborhood for locals and artistic types.
Its funky, bohemian-chic vibe has turned it into a popular place to live, stay in, or visit for dinner.
Lately, we've seen an explosion in fast-food pasta, sushi-to-go, and other not-very-local spots opening up in this area.
There are actually lots of excellent places to eat near the Colosseum if you know where to look.
Meanwhile, here are some of our favorite spots where locals eat in Rome when they want to eat in this part of town:
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I am partial to this restaurant because it's near where I live, so I go often.
It does not get much more local than this. As with many of the other spots on this page, the food is not going to win awards, but it's yummy, and fairly consistent. You can try everything Roman from tripe to pajata to carbonara. I personally love their baked fish with potatoes. It's all good.
The name Suburra refers to the ancient name of this neighborhood. It's where the plebes and poor people lived in Ancient Roman times.
The owners cook up a storm of veggie antipasto every night, and I love to get that as an appetizer (or sometimes my whole meal.)
They have artichokes to die for, and a great selection of really traditional Roman foods like snails and tongue. When you see those things on the menu, you know this is definitely where locals eat in Rome.
While via Veneto is famous among visitors for its luxury hotels, it's also an area that's chock full of government ministries, banks, and other businesses.
So of course there are places where these Romans working in the area go to eat, especially for lunch. Here are a few of my favorite spots near via Veneto/Piazza Fiume where locals eat in Rome:
Fiaschetteria Marini is one of my favorite lunch spots in Rome. And it's always packed then. So I try to come early, like 12:30. I love their hand-written menu with simple items like a burger. Just a burger. No bun, no side. Just a burger. And it's delicious.
Their simple Roman pastas are superb. And I like their brisk but friendly service. Because a business-lunch crowd comes, you can get in and out of here relatively quickly if you want to. But you can linger if you prefer a more leisurely pace, although I wouldn't recommend it for a long romantic meal!
This spot is just around the corner from Fiaschetteria Marini (above.)
They serve cuisine from Le Marche, so no, it's not Roman.
But boy is it homey.
Da Emilio is the perfect spot for dining with the locals and enjoying super homey Roman food.
You'll find most of your favorite Roman dishes and some excellent fish options to boot (I am a big fan of the fried anchovies as appetizer or main course.)
Since Da Cesare has been written about by just about every food blogger and article about where to eat in Rome, it might not seem to belong on this page about where locals eat in Rome.
I was trying to keep it to places that are really under-visited by tourists.
But Da Cesare is in fact where locals eat in Rome quite a lot.
It is after all, in a very residential neighborhood, far from the city center (it's easy to get here on the 8 tram leaving Piazza Venezia.)
Every time I have been to Cesare al Casaletto, I've seen mostly local clientele, relaxed and convivial, enjoying their Roman food and pizza.
I have pretty much always seen/heard tourists too, but again, that's not a bad thing.
Just know you will not be the only out-of-towner there.
If you happen to visit the mausoleum of Santa Costanza and you want a place to eat nearby, look no further than this local gem, Bonelli.
It's always chock a block with locals, and with good reason.
The food is not only delicious, it's affordable, and the atmosphere is lively and friendly.
A win win on every front!
Click here to visit my interactive Google map showing all the places where locals eat in Rome listed on this page. It will open in a new window.
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