A local’s guide to what to eat and do in Rome

City Guide

A local’s guide to
Rome

Rome is beautiful chaos and contradictions. Everyone knows everyone. Visit the same piazzas and you’ll find they know you, too. This is Rome, where anything goes. Walk around and see it's not as big as you thought — geographically or socially.

Meet local Erica Firpo, who has lived in Rome since 2004. See her favorite places to eat and things to do in the city.

Where to eat breakfast

Roscioli Caffe

breakfast

Roscioli Caffe

After four generations before them cornered the market on pizza and bread at their Antico Forno bakery, the Roscioli brothers opened a neighborhood coffee bar and pastry shop, which, despite its narrow standing room, never fails to please locals. Along with spectacular coffee drinks (hot ones come in heated cups), the pastries are divine. Many are old-school, hard-to-find Roman dolci. If you don’t do sweet, the selection of salati (savory sandwiches) is incredible and creative. Go for the thinly sliced pastrami on homemade cornetto and the delectable club with an over-easy egg.

BTW: Come before 9 a.m. to get a place at the counter. The back table is bookable, too.

Piazza Benedetto Cairoli 16, Rome

011-39-06-8916-5330

Website

@rosciolicaffe

@rosciolicaffe

Where to eat breakfast

Marigold

breakfast

Marigold

Rome finally has a little hygge, thanks to pastry chef Sofie Wochner and her partner, Domenico Calabrese. The simple, chic micro-bakery and restaurant may be one of the first sweet-and-savory brunch venues in the city. Guests come from around Rome for Wochner’s confections, including unforgettable cinnamon twists, as well as homemade butter (made from kefir) and rye bread. Calabrese, the mastermind behind dinner and lunch, makes daily sandwiches that are chef’s choice, with mustard aioli and Wochner’s sourdough.

BTW: Marigold doesn’t take reservations.

Via Giovanni da Empoli 37, Rome

011-39-06-8772-5679

Website

@marigold_roma

Where to eat lunch

Mercato Testaccio

lunch

Mercato Testaccio

Yes, this is a local market, but the beauty of this one is that its 100-plus vendors (produce, cheese, meat, fish, specialty foods, housewares) make it a great community hangout. Lunch standouts include fresh pasta of the day at Le Mani in Pasta (Box 58), vegan burgers and tacos at Sano (Box 3), mini pizzas at Da Artenio (Box 90) and fried delicacies at Mastro Papone (Box 96). In other words, every kind of eater can dine here all afternoon.

BTW: Bring cash, and if you are really hungry, head straight to sandwich shop Mordì e Vai (Box 15) before the nonni beat you there.

Via Beniamino Franklin and via Aldo Manuzio, Rome

011-39-06-361-2155

Website

@mercatoditestaccio

Where to eat lunch

Supplizio

lunch

Supplizio

The kind of bolt-hole you’d walk by without giving it a second look. Stop: The small Supplizio is chef Arcangelo Dandini’s full-service incarnation of Rome’s staple fried fast food, the suppli, (deep-fried rice balls filled with mozzarella, tomato sauce and chicken giblets). Dandini’s are award-winning, and here he introduces different interpretations, from classico to carbonara and cacio pepe (yes, your favorite Roman pasta, fried).

BTW: Beyond rice balls, Dandini’s lineup includes polpette al mio garum (fried anchovy balls) and the fave dessert, crema fritta (fried cream custard).

Via dei Banchi Vecchi 143, Rome

011-39-06-8987-1920

Website

Where to eat dinner

Luciano Cucina

dinner

Luciano Cucina

A next-generation trattoria, thanks to chef Luciano Monosilio, a.k.a. the King of Carbonara, a title he rightfully deserves since elevating the typical Roman dish to Michelin-star status. Luciano Cucina, with an absolutely-not-rustic, very contemporary design, features an exposed pasta lab and open kitchen and a menu with his award-winning (and must-try) carbonara and other traditional favorites. But the fun is in his creative Contemporanee (contemporary) and Ripiene (stuffed) pasta dishes: fettuccella ajo, ojo e bottarga di muggine — his version of pasta sauteed with garlic, pepper and olive oil and topped with cured fish roe.

BTW: Contrary to what you’d think, reserve no earlier than 9 p.m. It’s when Luciano gets lively.

Piazza del Teatro Pompeo 18, Rome

011-39-06-5153-1465

Website

@luciano_cucinaitaliana

Where to eat dinner

Seu Pizza Illuminati

dinner

Seu Pizza Illuminati

Seu Pizza is the precise opposite of a typical Roman pizzeria: stylish, with mod furniture and art pieces, and the feel of an art gallery. But you’re here for the pizza. Daniele Seu, the pizzaiolo (pizza-maker), is a dough magician whose thicker impasto and crusts will quickly obliviate any recollection of thin-crusted Roman-style pizza. (It is that good.) His menu is anchored with classics, but it’s Seu’s occasionally mind-bogglingly delicious creations — like the Gamberita, raw red shrimp atop buffalo mozzarella — that keep people coming back.

BTW: Choose a bunch of pizzas to share, and ask the waiter to serve them in the chef’s preferred order.

Via Angelo Bargoni 10, Rome

011-39-06-588-3384

Website

@seupizzailluminati

Where to eat late-night

Jerry Thomas speakeasy

late-night

Jerry Thomas speakeasy

Although Jerry Thomas may no longer be a secret, it is still the choice of the late-evening-cocktail crowd. Immaculately styled in 1920s retro, the bar is tiny, picture-perfect and limited to reservations. (Call in the late afternoons.) Created as a hangout for restaurant-industry professionals, Jerry’s bartenders are colleagues and friends who make expert cocktails and personal creations. Bonus points: The team rolls deep in female bartenders who are innovating the mixology arena.

BTW: An ideal spot if you don’t want to be seen.

Vicolo Cellini 30, Rome

011-39-370-114-6287

Website

@jerrythomasproject_rome

Where to eat late-night

L’Angolo Divino

late-night

L’Angolo Divino

L’Angolo Divino is the enoteca of your dreams: a rustic corner wine bar with low lighting, lots of great labels and an owner, Massimo, who has something to say about every single bottle. The wine list includes the usual suspects (yes, you can try a Super Tuscan, Amarone or Barolo), as well as unexpected bubbles, natural wines and hard-to-find producers. The list may be heavy on Italians, but international wines are represented.

BTW: Ask Massimo about his favorite Lazio wines. A world of conversation and tasting will start, and you may make a friend for life.

Via dei Balestrari 12, Rome

011-39-06-686-4413

Website

What to do

Bike the Appia Antica

Bike the Appia Antica

Loving Rome means getting out of the city, so we’re lucky the Romans built amazing streets crossing the country. The oldest and longest is the Via Appia Antica, and you need to travel only a tiny stretch to feel like you’re in the country. From just before exiting the ancient walls to, heading southeast, the edge of the Parco Appia Antica, most of the road is still original basalt stone and is one of the prettiest bike rides the city has to offer. The ride is lined with ancient monuments, tombs and Roman pines along fields of green. Expect to pass flocks of meandering sheep.

BTW: You can rent bikes at Appia Antica Caffe, a fine starting point, and have a great home-cooked meal there.

Via Appia Antica 175, Rome

011-39-06-8987-9575

Website

@archeoappia

What to do

Galleria Nazionale

Galleria Nazionale

Where Italy’s national collection of modern and contemporary art is held. A walk through the neoclassical building is a visual lesson in Italian art as told via magnificent paintings, sculptures and videos by era-defining artists like Canova, Modigliani, Manzoni, Clemente and Penoni. The collection also includes non-Italians, such as Twombly and LeWitt. Their order is not chronological (either confusing — or fun).

BTW: The best location for art selfies, especially because La Galleria is the last place anyone ever visits.

Viale Belli Arti 131, Rome

011-39-06-322-981

Website

@LAGNroma

@lagallerianazionale

What to do

MURo and street art in Quadraro

MURo and street art in Quadraro

For art history in the making, take a 25-minute drive southeast. Quadraro, a small enclave embedded between ancient history — aqueducts, Roman villas, case popolari (1930s low-income housing) — and Cinecittà is the city’s first outdoor museum dedicated to urban art (Museo Urbano di Roma, a.k.a. MURo). Walk around, and you’ll come face to face with murals by artists including Gary Baseman (his gray-toned piece is a nice starting point), Diavu, Alice Pasquini, Ron English and more.

BTW: MURo (founded by Diavu) offers artist-led tours of the neighborhood in Italian, English, Spanish and French.

Largo dei Quintili, Rome

Website

What to do

Artisanal Cornucopia

Artisanal Cornucopia

Artisanal Cornucopia is part salon, part gallery and part concept boutique — a cornucopia of fabulous clothing, shoes, accessories and art pieces. Owner Elif Sallorenzo’s collection covers the entire gamut of social opportunities, from cuddling in front of the TV and beach days to dinner parties and weddings. She loves craftsmanship and selects pieces from emerging designers as well as coveted creators, including Aquazzura (Edgardo is a good friend), Giulia Barela, Misela and Segni di Gi. And she has a penchant for 100 percent made in Italy, so expect to find one-of-kind handbags by Benedetta Bruzziches and more.

BTW: If Elif is in, talk to her. She knows everyone and every place.

Via dell’Oca 38, Rome

011-39-342-871-4597

Website

@artsnlcrnucopia

What to do

Villa Doria Pamphilj

Villa Doria Pamphilj

The largest landscaped park in Rome, Villa Pamphilj is a favorite afternoon hangout and workout area. If you want to run, bike, play volleyball, soccer or informally TRX out in the open, this is where you want to be. It’s open until 9 p.m. in the warmest months.

BTW: Back in the day, Moammar Gaddafi, the longtime ruler of Libya, loved its beautiful, bucolic vibe so much that he set up camp here with his entourage.

Via di San Pancrazio 13, Rome

011-39-06-8987-8515

Website

@pamphiljvilla

@galleriadoriapamphilj

What to do

Villa Farnesina

Villa Farnesina

Probably the best-kept art secret in Rome. The two-level stand-alone villa was originally a vacation home for one of the pope’s financiers who had the foresight to invest in architect Baldassarre Peruzzi and his friend, the up-and-coming artist Raffaele Sanzio, a.k.a. Raphael. The entire ground-floor fresco cycles are painted by Raphael, while the first-level frescoes are by Renaissance greats Il Sodoma and Sebastiano del Piombo.

BTW: Most days, the museum is quiet, and you’ll have Raphael’s masterpiece Galatea fresco all to yourself.

Via della Lungara 230, Rome

011-39-06-6802-7268

Website

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