If you’re looking for restaurants near Circus Maximus and FAO, you’ve come to the right place. This quick guide to restaurants and bars near Circus Maximus includes the full lowdown about where to eat and drink close to one of Rome’s most famous sights. Also known as Circo Massimo, Circus Maximus is today akin to a public park, frequented by dog walkers, runners, and even the odd picnic-goer. However, it’s still an essential part of any visit to Rome, perhaps after a trip to the Palatine Hill, or a visit to the Colosseum.
After exploring Circus Maximus, restaurants nearby are clustered in two main areas. There are a few options along Via San Teodoro, on the north-west side of Circo Massimo. Otherwise, head to Viale Aventino, on the south-east side of Circus Maximus, where a range of restaurants and bars serve the local community, and workers at FAO, the United Nations’ Food & Agriculture Organisation.
Viale Aventino today is a maze of pavement cafes and it can be hard to know where to stop. So here’s the Testaccina guide to the best restaurants near Circus Maximus, restaurants near FAO, plus the best Circo Massimo bars for a quick drink, aperitivo, or some street food on the run!
Baccio e i Gradini: Pizzeria close to Piramide on Viale Aventino
Baccio e i Gradini, a new pizzeria on Viale Aventino, is the ideal neighbourhood pizza joint. Hitting the sweet spot between an easy, casual diner and a gourmet, high-quality experience, expect first rate pizzas and prime seasonal, ingredients. At the same time, owner Fabio Spada and pizza chef Giovanni Lombardi with his Neapolitan-inspired dough are genial hosts, welcoming customers with a big smile.
This pizzeria may be new, but it has already captured the hearts of locals. So much so that you should expect queues and sold-out tables at weekends (always best to book ahead). Why is it so popular? Because the food is great, and the prices are really reasonable.
Before you get to the pizza course, don’t forget to try a tasty fried starter – such as refried pasta bites – or a gradino, a “step”, a crostino topped with sumptuous ingredients, that is something between a bruschetta and a focaccia (€4).
Moving onto the pizzas, Baccio e i Gradini offers six different types of Margherita alone, the ultimate Italian pizza, so I recommend that you give one of them a try. The Margherita Laziale, topped with flecks of fresh mint, is a delightful remix priced at just €9.
Another surprising pizza worth your attention is the Marinara, with velvety layers of tomato in pieces and Cetara anchovies, topped with olives from Gaeta. It’s still only €8 but this is really deluxe take on an Italian pizza staple. Look out too for a multi-dimensional four cheese pizza, plus a couple of rare fish-topped pizzas, with tuna and baccala.
I like the fact that sweet courses include the Napoli-born baba, another sign of Spada’s originality. Try one to finish your dinner in style. Highly recommended! Viale della Piramide Cestia, 25 – Tel +39 351 8823737
Aventina: restaurant between Piramide and Circus Maximus
Located towards the Piramide metro stop at the start of Viale Aventino, Aventina is an old school bottega, butcher, deli and restaurant in one. This is a great high-end store for picking up goodies for a special dinner party: from sauces and conserves to pasta, oil, cheeses, fresh bread, preserved fish and cold cuts. Don’t miss the high class butcher department for out-of-this-world Fiorentina steaks to show off to family and friends at home.
But in case you’re not feeling in the mood for cooking, Aventina is also a handsome restaurant in its own right, combining Nonna know-how with a few modern and international influences.
On my visit to Aventina, in high summer, lunch started with a fresh, Mediterranean gazpacho, followed by exquisite baccala and beef tartares. The main course featured triangles of toasted rice with braised quail in a creamy sauce – absolutely exceptional umami flavours. We also tried a slide of Fiorentina steak, and closed with a homemade Sicilian cannolo.
This is also a great place to pop in for an aperitivo or just a glass of wine and a cheese board with friends. All in all, there’s nothing that Aventina can’t do, from supplying foodie gifts to hosting your own slap-up dinners and anniversaries. Make a note! Viale della Piramide Cestia 9
Unique Al Palatino Garden Restaurant: near Circus Maximus
Set back within the gardens of the Kolbe Hotel Rome on Via S. Teodoro, on the north side of Circus Maximus, Unique Al Palatino Garden Restaurant is a haven of tranquillity in an absolutely stunning setting. This former convent property has beautifully landscaped gardens at the foot of the Palatine Hill, today hosting the tables for Unique Al Palatino Garden Restaurant in warmer months. Simply enter Kolbe Hotel Rome from Via S. Teodoro and let reception guide you to the restaurant towards the back of the hotel.
The food represents a meticulous approach to seasonal ingredients, with wonderful pasta and fish dishes, as well as a few international touches. Read my full review of the Unique Al Palatino Garden Restaurant here.
Unique Al Palatino Garden Restaurant is great for a special occasion, but if you just fancy a plate of pasta in a beautiful setting, this is also one of the best Circus Maximus restaurants. In the winter months and early spring, expect to dine in the charming indoor halls, overlooking the green garden, but from May-September, plan on al fresco dining and drinks outside.
Unique Al Palatino Garden Restaurant won ‘Best Family Luxury Restaurant at the Global level’ at the World Luxury Restaurant Awards 2020, so don’t just take my word for it! Via di San Teodoro 48
Anima Mundi: bar & restaurant near Circus Maximus
While a great choice for an aperitivo or quick drink near Circus Maximus, gorgeous Anima Mundi also serves food. Situated near Bocca della Verita, ‘the Mouth of Truth’, this restaurant occupies one of the cutest corners of old Rome – and it’s a well kept secret amongst locals!
Accessed from Via S. Teodoro, or the Arch of Janus by Fondazione Fendi’s Palazzo Rhinoceros, enjoy its unique atmosphere while sipping on drinks at sundown (Top picture). Light bites ranging from Insalata Caprese to burgers, making this a satisfying pit-stop for food near Circo Massimo. Via di Velabro 1, Tel. +39 06 9603 0061
Numa al Circo
Numa al Circo, a restaurant near Circus Maximus in Rome, is a great all-day bar and restaurant covering every drinking and dining need. It is situated on Viale Aventino, directly in front of FAO, and less than two minutes walk from Circus Maximus – on the south-east side. Opening early in the morning for breakfast, and staying open for lunch, aperitivo and eventually dinner, Numa al Circo is perfectly placed restaurant near FAO and ideal for those looking for a restaurant near Circus Maximus.
I sampled a range of goodies on my visit to this charming restaurant near Circus Maximus. We started with a range of moreish antipasti, something I imagine the restaurant will quickly become famous for. Chef Cianetti acquires the cheeses and charcuterie from the Dol team, famed for sourcing rare and original products from the Lazio region.
Numa al Circo specialises squarely in Roman cuisine, although you should expect some classics from all over Italy. Varied sharing plates and charcuterie boards are perfect for accompanying a light lunch or a quick drink. The menu shifts seasonally, so expect some changes as the year goes on. Read my full review for the food at Numa al Circo right here. Viale Aventino 20, Tel. 06 64420669
Rosso Eat Drink Stay: Aperitivo near Circus Maximus
Rosso Eat Drink Stay, well-loved by FAO staff, is a cavernous all day bar and restaurant near Circus Maximus serving breakfast, lunch, aperitivo and dinner. Of course, you can also visit Rosso Eat Drink Stay for coffee, drinks and brunch – it really does it all.
Before the global health crisis, Rosso Eat Drink Stay was particularly popular for its buffet aperitivo with drink included for around 10. Although the buffet has been suspended, you can still get drinks here with snacks served at the table. If you’re looking for a bar or restaurant near Circus Maximus, this is a good all-rounder. Viale Aventino 32, tel +39 342 189 9629
La Renardière: restaurants near FAO
Located just a five minute walk from FAO, La Renardière is an intimate French bistro on the San Saba side of Viale Aventino. This chic restaurant near Circus Maximus will transport you to Paris with its simple but tasty menu that usually includes French onion soup, Breton oysters, Bourguignon snails or even a simple quiche.
Conveniently close to Circus Maximus, La Renardière also has an excellent selection of French wines and champagnes. It is sensible to book ahead as there aren’t many tables. Viale Aventino 31/33, tel +39 06 87785445
Sushi & Noodles: Asian restaurant near Circus Maximus
This affordable Asian restaurant styles itself as a Japanese, Chinese and fusion restaurant – and there’s certainly something for everyone on its varied menu. Now with three restaurants in Rome, in Prati, Tuscolano, and on Viale Aventino, Sushi & Noodles actually conquered my tastebuds with its affordable and high-quality sushi.
While eating- in is a great option, thanks also to its external seating – perfect for warmer months – Sushi & Noodles has become one of my go-to food delivery and take-away options in Rome. The 15-piece mixed sushi, sashimi & maki is great value at 17.50. Full menu right here on the website. Viale Aventino 117, Tel +39 06 6442 0616
Barnaba: Circus Maximus wine bar and eatery
Barnaba, a wine bar near Circus Maximus, is actually also a great casual restaurant, making this a lovely, informal place to eat near Circus Maximus. If you come to Barnaba to focus on the wine, you’re not wrong. Barnaba’s wine list is in constant evolution, but when the restaurant was founded in 2018, it was with the philosophy of stocking 1-third champagne; 1-third foreign wines, mainly French; and a third Italian wines. What all the vintages have in common is a preference for small winemakers; also, 60% of the wines are priced under 30, to make drinking well an affordable pleasure.
The Barnaba menu ranges from comfort food- think carboard cones full of hot fish in tempura batter, or chick-pea puree served with winter greens. But there are also hearty first and second courses, and moreish desserts. There’s plenty of outdoor seating, which is great in the warm weather; and it’s also just minutes from the Piramide Metro Stop, right at the start of Viale Aventino. Via della Piramide Cestia 45
So Good: casual restaurant near Circus Maximus
Can you combine high quality ingredients with fast, tasty snacks? At So Good you can! This informal bar and restaurant near Circus Maximus attracts a regular crowd to its pavement tables. Some come to So Good for the reliable list of craft beers; some for the young and cool vibe; plenty more for its reliable light bites, with delicious bagels filled with everything from smoked salmon to pastrami. There is also a good list of Italian and French wines, with a focus on bubbly. Perhaps the perfect casual pit-stop after a visit to Circus Maximus, let So Good quench your thirst and more! Viale Aventino 87