Lunch in Rome is one of life’s great pleasures: a chance to watch the world go by in the Eternal City while eating wonderful Italian food – or trying something a little different.
For it is also true that there are almost as many options for lunch in Rome as there are stars in the sky. With alternatives on every corner, but limited time at your disposal, where do you pick for your Rome lunch?
This quick guide to lunch in Rome is not exhaustive, but lists a few delicious and varied options for having lunch in Rome in 2021 to suit every budget and taste. I’ve also tried to select lunch venues in different areas of Rome so you can hopefully find something round the corner from wherever you are.
If you’re looking for some tips about typical Roman food you may want to head over to my traditional Roman restaurant guide. But right here, without further ado, scroll down for the Testaccina original guide to lunch in Rome, 2021 edition. Warning – may provoke hunger pangs!
€ – €10-€20 per head excluding drinks
€€ – €25-€40 per head excluding drinks
€€€ – €45-€70 per head excluding drinks
€€€€ – €75+ per head excluding drinks
1. Enoteca Verso
The San Giovanni neighbourhood, with its magnificent Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano famed for the Papal throne, the nearby Scala Santa, and the relics of Santa Croce, attracts hordes of tourists year round in Rome. However, negotiating this area when lunchtime rolls around is no easy task.
Sprawling San Giovanni doesn’t have an easily identifiable heart, so once you have left the open plains of the Basilica it can be hard to navigate to a suitable lunch spot in this corner of Rome.
Enter Enoteca Verso, a cosy brick-lined wine store, wine bar and restaurant just a 10 minute stroll from the Basilica of San Giovanni, close to the San Giovanni Metro (Via Taranto exit). Last year, the owners pivoted to a stronger focus on food and the result is a great spot for a quick lunch in Rome, or equally a slow glass of wine in the afternoon or evening.
I recently went along to Enoteca Verso to try the new lunch menu and wasn’t disappointed. Lunch started with a gourmet bruschetta and proceeded with a fresh beef tartare and fluffy pork meatballs, before moving onto a wonderful winter pasta dish of artichokes and pecorino cheese. Everything was paired with silky Italian wines for a true voyage through Italian wine culture. The desserts are excellent too, including dark chocolate crumbles and a rich cocoa tiramisu.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: It’s perfectly located for lunch near the Basilica of San Giovanni, and a great way to sample Italian wines in Rome.
Price range: €€
2. Hi-Res for lunch in Rome
Right in the heart of old Rome, just a stone’s throw from Piazza del Popolo – indeed, enjoying tantalising views of this iconic, oval square – Hi-Res or High Restaurant is a dreamy, glass-walled palace overlooking terracotta rooftops and cobbled streets on top of the Hotel Valadier.
Hotel Valadier in Rome is one of those iconic properties which has left an indelible mark on the city of Rome, but isn’t afraid of change.
While the hotel offers rooms from a very competitive €103 per night – just a five minute walk from the Spanish Steps and Piazza del Popolo – its dining and drinking options plunge you into Dantean worlds of polar opposite: the dark and sexy lure of its basement cocktail bar and eatery, Valentyne, and the glass-walled halls of its lofty rooftop restaurant, Hi-Res.
Hi-Res manages to mix old and new in both its architecture and menu. The restaurant is housed in an extraordinary glass-house on top of this period building, with stunning views of Villa Borghese and Piazza del Popolo.
Its menu is steeped in Italian lore, featuring the freshest fish, pasta, locally sourced meats and more – but the presentation and ingredient combinations are avant-garde.
My recent lunch at Hi-Res started with scampi tartare, combined with fresh mandarin and sichuan pepper for a wow opening. This was followed with a sumptuous dish of lobster pasta, dressed with buffalo mozzarella juices. We accompanied lunch with an excellent pink Franciacorta, and finished up with a house cocktail.
This is a sensationally well put together menu and restaurant with Italian aesthetics in its DNA.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: As well as being a beautifully appointed lunch spot for a special occasion, the people watching at Hi-Res is divine.
Price range: €€€
3. Meat Market
If you enjoy a good steak or just fancy a burger and fries, the Meat Market in Piazza Bologna or in Testaccio is a great pitstop for a meat-focused lunch in Rome. It’s useful to remember that Italy has a wonderful cattle-farming heritage and even outside Tuscany – the spiritual home of the wonderful Fiorentina steak – you can eat great steaks in other parts of the country.
Comprising a franchise of currently two restaurants in Rome, the Meat Market is the brainchild of a group of entrepreneurs hailing from Puglia. After a few years of success in Testaccio, the group recently opened a second Meat Market in Piazza Bologna to considerable fanfare. I recently went along to the Meat Market in Piazza Bologna for lunch and wasn’t disappointed.
Lunch started with a selection of antipasti, including a tris of beef tartares, grilled sausages, burrata and breaded boiled meatballs. We also tried an incredible lobster roll – one of the best in Rome. To finish up, we shared a medium rare Fiorentina steak which was beautifully cooked and perfectly presented.
This is a great pitstop as well for lovers of gourmet burgers, serving a good range of toppings and patties for every taste. The price-quality ratio is excellent.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Sometimes, only a burger, lobster roll or prime steak will do.
Price range: €€
4. Fattoincasa by La Danesina Hosteria
Via del Governo Vecchio is a charming street in the historical centre of Rome famed for its vintage stores, cosy restaurants and artisan shops. It is happily also the location of a wonderfully authentic Roman restaurant called Fattoincasa by La Danesina Hosteria, which is a great place to try typical Roman cuisine.
Why should you check out Fattoincasa? I honestly don’t know where to start! Maybe for the hearty antipasti – ranging from aubergine balls dipped in tomato sauce, to fried pizza and deep-fried Jewish-style artichokes. I can also highly recommend the polenta with pear and melted cheese. Delicious.
The first courses run the gamut of classic Roman and Italian pasta dishes, but often cooked with a twist. Cacio e pepe for example includes zucchini flowers, mint and lime for a lovely fresh note that contrasts the salt of the dish. Look out too for a salty and silky carbonara, plus stunning main courses that include roast chicken with yoghurt and orange, and roast beef with velvety chestnuts.
If you only remember one detail from this review, remember this: leave some space for a dessert! The sweets and puddings at Fattoincasa are amongst the largest and tastiest that I have tried in all of Italy. Don’t miss the homemade Sacher torte or the apple strudel, my absolute favourites.
And after all that, plan for a stroll down Via del Governo Vecchio to walk it all off!
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: It’s hard to find a truly hearty, good value and high quality trattoria bang in the centre of Rome serving up Roman cuisine with a twist. This is the place to be!
Price range: €€
5. Palmerie Parioli for lunch in Rome
Not many tourists make it to the Parioli side of town, but those who do are pleasantly surprised by a Roman neighbourhood like none other. Associated with Rome’s upper middle classes, Parioli is a tantalising mix of elegant townhouses and cool eateries, although you have to know where to go as its sprawling boulevards can get confusing pretty quickly.
Enter Palmerie Parioli, a multi-storey house of tropical vibes, secret gardens and DJ sets serving much better food than you might expect. Everything is cool here – from the flamingo wallpaper to the bar enmeshed in an indoor forest – but the most enchanting surprise is the excellent fusion-inspired menu.
The cavernous space has a club-like feel upstairs, dressed with teal, pink and navy velour, tropical wallpaper and lights like fishbowls. Downstairs, and in its cute mezzanine outdoor courtyards, there’s almost a beachy, Bali vibe in Palmerie Parioli, with lots of cute corners to escape your day.
Fish and raw fish in particular are amongst the star dishes, but the menu’s fusion credentials make this a fun option for a party with a broad range of tastes. Start your lunch with vegetable samosas or tempura prawns, before choosing a gourmet bowl with a base of sushi rice and enticing fresh ingredients ranging from octopus to salmon, yellow tail to raw prawns plus avocado, spinach and more.
The tartares and sushi plates are exquisite, while fun mains include avocado toast, salmon teriyaki, glazed chicken, chirashi bowls and more. Finish up with a dessert or even a cocktail for one of the most satisfying lunches in north Rome.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Change neighbourhoods and change flavours with a fusion outing to the uber-cool yet friendly Palmerie Parioli.
Price range: €€
6. Le Carré Français
Le Carré Français is one of the best French restaurants in Rome, situated between the Spanish Steps and the Vatican in the Prati neighbourhood.
To call it simply a restaurant however is rather reductive, as Le Carré Français is an all-day, one-stop-shop celebrating French cuisine, selling speciality cheeses and wines, as well as acting as a café, bakery, wine bar and more.
Breakfast, lunch, aperitif and dinner are served every day at Le Carré Français, featuring French regional and seasonal specialities. Owner Jildaz Mahé hails from Brittany, so don’t miss a taste of the sea with excellent seafood, including oysters and other raw delicacies.
For a simple lunch, Breton galettes, buckwheat pancakes filled with savoury and sweet ingredients, make a wonderfully informal choice.
Or perhaps you’re in the mood for one of the great classics of French cuisine. In that case, you could opt for pan-fried scallops (€22), a handsome fish soup (€26), Boeuf Bourguignon (€22) or duck breast served with red fruits (€22). I tried the magnificent Tournedos Rossini (€26) and was not disappointed. This dish combines a 200g beef fillet steak, served with a chunk of foie gras, foie gras salsa and truffles on a disc of bread.
Classic and seasonal desserts follow, baked and prepared by the expert hands of in-house pastry chef, Giancarlo Bruno. And why not treat yourself to a glass of champagne whilst you’re here?
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Step out with some French flavours to brighten your day.
Price range: €€€
7. Alfredo alla Scrofa
White table cloths, impeccable service and a big slice of Roman tradition make Alfredo alla Scrofa one of Rome’s most iconic restaurants. But this is a place which is determined not to rest on its laurels, and the result is a dynamic menu from one of Rome’s most inventive chefs, served with a side of old-world charm.
Alfredo alla Scrofa is located in an elegant street in Rome’s historical centre, where via della Scrofa widens into an asymmetric piazza, far enough away from the usual streets populated by tourists to retain an air of the real Rome. While the star dish is the original and best Fettuccine Alfredo, which originated right here, there are plenty of options for all tastes.
Chef Mirko Moglioni joined the team in 2020, and his evolving menus feature plenty of seasonal ingredients with excellent cuts of meat and the freshest fish. He also has an eye for unusual textures and combinations, making this an interesting an diverse menu. Full review here. There are also a selection of more traditional dishes if you’re craving the tastes of old Rome. Highly recommended!
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Get close to a piece of Roman gourmet history at this unmissable restaurant in the heart of old Rome.
Price range: €€€
8. Mediterraneo Maxxi
It’s not often that you can wholly recommend a museum café as a gourmet destination, but then it’s not often that you come across a restaurant, bar and music venue quite like Mediterraneo at Maxxi.
What’s its secret? Well, the kitchens are run by the same folk that manage Palmerie Parioli, so you know you’re in exceptionally safe hands. Expect fantastic sushi and oceans of safely-sourced raw fish and tartares in the summer, with richer, seasonal notes in the autumn and winter.
While outdoor dining is the order of the day during the summer and autumn at Mediterraneo Maxxi, its nice to fully enjoy the cavernous dining hall during the cooler months of the year.
I went along in December 2020 to try the winter menu one Saturday lunch, which is currently accompanied by live jazz. Dishes ranged from a creamed pumpkin soup to roast porcini mushrooms, breaded poached eggs to a sumptuous fillet steak. One of the best surprises of all is the prices at Mediterraneo Maxxi. Despite flanking one of the best looking museums in Rome and occupying a beautifully appointed space, this is an affordable lunch option which will keep you coming back for more. Highly recommended.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: This unusual space is unlike anywhere else you will visit in Rome. Drop in for lunch after a gallery show at the Maxxi, or just come for the cool people-watching and live jazz or DJ sets.
Price range: €€
9. Proloco Trastevere
Trastevere is a charming destination in Rome for a quick bite to eat or a simple stroll. While this neighbourhood was for many years a bit of a tourist trap, the last couple of years have seen the arrival of a few really stellar restaurant options, ranging from the informal to the avant-garde. Proloco in Trastevere is a great choice for lunch in Rome for epitomising effortless, casual dining but also offering something exciting and unique.
Above all, Proloco Trastevere offers sustainable dining in Rome, thanks to a unique farm-to-table approach that prizes Lazio produce and celebrates the region’s favourite recipes. (Click the name for a full review!)
Recent incredible dishes I have sampled there include a wonderful beef tongue, cooked in Proloco’s wonderful charcoal Josper oven, with white cabbage and parsley mayo. The dish was paired with a gin cocktail infused with rocket, liquorice and citron – absolutely divine.
Look out too for cutlets of the famous pig-sheep crossbreed, mangalica. Combined with apple sauce, they are a thing of tender, juicy goodness, cured with just the right amount of salt.
Situated in Via Goffredo Mameli in Trastevere, Proloco Trastevere’s unique formula makes this a great spot for brunch, lunch, dinner, and after dinner cocktails or wine. Right now, it’s unbeatable for lunch! Plus, Proloco’s farmhouse lunch on a Sunday is a fixed-price affair of honest goodness.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Support Lazio smallholders with Proloco’s zero kilometre farm-to-table philosophy. What’s not to like?
Price range: €€
10. Lunch in Rome: Taki Off
Taki Off is technically part of Japanese restaurant Taki in Rome, but in reality is a seperate dining project marrying Italian experiences with Japanese themes to produce something quite new.
Situated in its own dining room at traditional Japanese restaurant Taki, the Taki Off project was one of the most exciting dining experiences to come out of 2020 in Rome. Representing a collaboration between multi-award-winning chef Massimo Viglietti and Taki head chef and owner Yukari Vitti, this gastronomic degustation is a unique, sensorial experience designed for gourmet adventurers.
While in its fullest form, it is envisaged as a 10-plate degustation, a lunch version of the Taki Off menu allows diners to select dishes, for a quicker experience that also makes the price tag more flexible.
What might you eat at this wonderful hybrid experiment? Let’s put it this way – when I went, I tried a delicate cracker filled with offal pate, plus a tris of antipasti, including deep fried cheese, a sushi roll and onion-infused wagyu meatball – and that was just the first course. For a full review, check out my story on the Taki Off dining experience here.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Escape a dreary day or even just boring food with a fantastic journey through the imagination of chef Viglietti, in the stylish black box of Taki Restaurant.
Price range: €€€€
11. La Nicchia Cafe
Just a few steps from busy Piazzale degli Eroi and Metro Cipro in Prati, La Nicchia Cafe is a smart yet simple cafe serving healthy food at the right price. One of the Nicchia Cafe hallmarks is high quality, fresh ingredients, so expect your lunch to change with the seasons.
From chunky sandwiches to crisp salads, avocado toast to fresh smoothies and juices, the food is a rainbow of seasonal goodness. There’s also a small but high quality wine list if you’re dying for a crisp glass of prosecco or smooth, local wine to wash it all down.
Outside of lunchtime, La Nicchia Cafe is also an excellent option for breakfast and a tasty aperitivo. Best of all, if you’re in the area, delivery is available for those days when you’re feeling extra lazy. Plus, a small bodega on-site also sells packets of pasta, taralli plus quality coffee for brewing at home. What are you waiting for?
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: This high quality cafe on the Metro Cipro side of Prati brings a much needed healthy lunch option to this busy residential neighbourhood.
Price range: €
12. Try Hasekura for a Rome lunch
Hasekura Restaurant, in Rome’s historic Monti district, has been serving some of the best Japanese food in Rome since 1993. Situated in the picturesque via dei Serpenti, a stone’s throw from the Colosseum, Hasekura has a reputation for high quality ingredients, prepared with simplicity and aesthetic grace. Courses don’t follow a precise order, but are savoured in smaller but numerous portions, to ensure variety of choice.
One of Hasekura’s hallmarks is it bijoux, well-appointed dining room. Booking is almost always required as the restaurant quickly fills up with local diners in the know. At lunch, look out for well-priced specials, including the ample bento boxes containing a range of sushi and sashimi as well as cooked Japanese food, that allow diners to taste an extraordinary range of perfectly presented dishes.
Hasekura is also one of the best sushi restaurants in Rome, so if you’re craving a plate of perfect rolls, this a great choice. Even better still, takeaway and delivery options mean that you can plan to try Hasekura’s excellent menu anytime and anywhere in Rome.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Hasekura is probably the best Japanese restaurant in Rome, but lunch options are competitively priced. Hasekura serves some of the best sushi in Rome.
Price range: €€€
13. Rose Tartare Bar
Trastevere restaurant Rose Tartare Bar may be one of the most Instagram-friendly diners in the city, but don’t underestimate the idea behind its unicorn palate of soft pinks and peaches.
With a focus on fresh fish tartare, bao buns, poke bowls and tacos, alongside select pasta dishes and artisan burgers at lunch, served with cool avocado, gazpacho or mango-infused sides, Rose Tartare Bar is also a spot for serious foodies.
While the Rose Tartare Bar menu gallops through fusion dishes to reinforce the sense of internationalism and escape in this pastel-hued eatery, there are enough Italian and Mediterranean references to ground it in a sense of place.
Where possible, ingredients are sourced locally, and veer from global hits such as jewel-like tacos, bao buns and poke bowls to rigorously Italian-caught fish dishes, and even a pimped-up cacio e pepe for fans of this Roman pasta dish.
Its location on Trastevere’s less touristy side, down towards Trastevere Station, in fact is already turning it into a lunch location for local workers – and now you can be a part of this well-kept foodie secret!
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Escape to Rose Tartare Bar’s exquisite pastel island and enjoy some of the best fresh fish, this side of town!
Price range: €€
14. Mammò in Trastevere
Mammo Street Food is a cosy all-day eating place in the heart of Trastevere, dearly loved by locals and American students at Rome’s John Cabot University.
While excelling in sourcing great Italian charcuterie cuts, wines and craft drinks, Mammò also serves international-style breakfast, brunch and lunch goodies for those hard-to-find flavours right here in Rome.
Exceptional quality pastrami sandwiches and more, salads, wraps, burgers and pancakes are all available here, with dine-in, takeaway and delivery options too! Look out too for tall, American-style coffees and some of the best bagels in the city, with a seperate bagel menu to boot! The prices are excellent and the quality never disappoints.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Right on the edge of Piazza Trilussa in the heart of Trastevere, Mammò is perfect for a fast, high quality and inexpensive lunch. Eat in or takeaway.
Price range: €
15. Pokedon – Japanese bowl and roll
In the busy Ostiense district, not far from Piramide Metro, Pokedon – Japanese bowl and roll is a welcome and healthy addition to the Japanese food scene in Rome.
Launched by Akira Yoshida, a Japanese ex-footballer and now restaurateur who also owns Rome ramen bar Ramen Akira, PokeDon combines Hawaiian poke bowls with Japanese don, both rice-bowl dishes featuring delicious toppings.
The result is the ‘PokeDon’, a rice dish topped with a delicious mix of vegetables, salad ingredients and protein, from fish to pork, plus a vegetarian option with tofu. The whole menu is incredibly authentic and perfect for satisfying your search for real Japanese food in Rome.
Mini bowls at PokeDon start at €9, with the larger bowls starting at €11. There are also temaki rolls (€5) and a vegetarian curry dish on the menu, plus gyoza dumplings (€4), vans (sandwiches), edamame beans to snack on and wakame seaweed salad.
PokeDon is currently open for lunch, while teaming up with Ramen Bar Akira for delivery and takeaway options throughout the day, so you can always get your healthy bowl fix. Highly recommended!
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Pokedon is healthy and a bit different – what’s not to like?
Price range: €
16. Ciao Checca: healthy lunch in Rome
Located in the heart of old Rome, not far from the Pantheon, Ciao Checca has been quietly expanding across the ground floor of a series of period buildings to create a charming hotchpotch of rooms on different levels, providing cosy corners for breakfast, lunch or aperitivo.
Ciao Checca opened about seven years ago, quickly gaining a reputation as something of a pioneer in Rome for creating healthy, often zero km food, with a particular attention to generating compostable waste. As an official restaurant of the Slow Food culture – a grass roots organisation celebrating traditional cooking and local food – Ciao Checca is meticulous in selecting ingredients and resurrecting heritage recipes. It has called its cooking ‘slow street food’, reflecting these influences.
Its signature pasta dish – Ciao Checca – is a traditional dish famed as a summer packed-lunch-special in these parts. Combining pasta which is just slightly warmer than room temperature, mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, its simplicity belies its goodness. Look out too for delicious, seasonal soups such as lentil, stracciatella, and honey-glazed onion soup; pureed chickpeas and seasonal greens; and addictive fried strips of chicken, sourced from one of the best butchers in Rome.
Why it’s ideal for lunch in Rome: Keep things healthy, traditional and delicious with lunch at Ciao Checca.
Price range: €