Looking for restaurants near the Vatican? This guide to dining close to St. Peter’s square and the Prati neighbourhood has restaurants for every budget – and a few locals-only secrets!
So search no more if you’re looking for where to eat near the Vatican – typically one of Rome’s most touristy areas, but no longer a place where you are obliged to settle for a mediocre meal. This guide includes both cheap eats near the Vatican and the best fine dining restaurants near St. Peter’s, so every occasion is covered.
Restaurants in Prati: La Dispensa Dei Mellini
La Dispensa Dei Mellini, a shabby-chic trattoria serving Roman food with a twist, is not a new restaurant near the Vatican. However, the restaurant’s local renown took a decisive turn with the arrival of chef Susanna Sipione in 2019. Today, it’s often a sold-out affair, so be sure to book if you’re hoping for a table at La Dispensa Dei Mellini.
This review starts with an appreciation of the restaurant’s interiors and bijoux outdoor terrace. La Dispensa Dei Mellini is a chocolate box of framed photos and antique mirrors, creating a cosy and picturesque ambience. Outside, they have done their very best to dress a small deck with pretty lights and well set tables, although the traffic on the main road can be tiring at times.
On to the food – with a decently-priced menu, this is affordable upscale-trattoria dining in an area thronging with tourists. The smart ones may even find their way here. Expect plates inspired by the history of Roman cuisine, including offal, which is cooked with expertise to make it absolutely delicious.
Our dinner commenced with a plate of fried artichokes with a delicate cheese sauce (€10), and we also sampled some insanely moreish veal shin meatballs in a marrowbone sauce. The plates look fresh and modern despite this dalliance with the past.
Another sensational small plate is the breaded poached egg served with pancetta rashers (€6.50), which is another indulgent treat. Depending on your appetite and your relationship with fried food, you can also skip the yummy crispy stuff and start with a delicate tartare.
The pasta dishes are decisive in flavour and hearty in portion size. I loved the ‘drunken’ octopus fettucelle served with a delicate foam (€16); the oxtail pasta served with giant spiral pasta (€14) was also a striking and tasty homage to Rome.
You could probably stop there, but if you have room, don’t miss the sauteed sweetbreads with fresh pear, probably my favourite meal of the night and an absolutely sensational dish (€22).
Lovers of dessert should note that the creme brulee with apple and cinnamon is sinfully good (€7). Highly recommended!
La Dispensa Dei Mellini Lungotevere dei Mellini, 31, Rome; tel 0039 (0)6 321 2633
Restaurants near the Vatican: Chorus Cafe
The best theatre bars carry a sense of timeless glamour, and Chorus Cafe, the resident bar and restaurant at Rome’s Auditorium della Conciliazione, oozes timeless charm. Just a stone’s throw from the Vatican – St Peter’s in fact looms large on the same street – Chorus Cafe is housed in a beautiful period building. Its art deco dining hall, on the theatre’s second floor, adds a sense of awe and grace to the restaurant experience here. As far as restaurant spaces go in Rome, this is one of the fanciest.
Of course, Chorus Cafe is ideal at any time for a cocktail pit stop. Behind the bar, star mixologist Massimo D’Addezio reigns supreme with a portfolio of unmissable drinks. But it makes for a fun dining experience too, representing an opportunity to dust off your heels or a smart suit and lounge with the slick set in Rome.
While Chorus Cafe has always been a well-liked restaurant in Rome, the arrival of chef Arcangelo Dandini in October 2021 switched things up a gear. Dandidi, whose residence has been dubbed Arcangelo Chorus, has created an imaginative and at times romantic menu which recalls his youth in the Roman countryside. Dandini hails from Rocca Priora, and the herbs and homegrown vegetables that strew his plates add an innocent simplicity.
From an antipasto combining delicate leeks with anchovy, to a plate combining vegetables, oysters and lobster, I also sampled a magnificent seasonal mushroom risotto plus a roast guineafowl main course. The thoughtful, locally sourced menu brings a wonderfully grounded sense to that sparkling dining hall. And don’t forget to finish up with a cocktail!
Chorus Cafe Via della Conciliazione 4, Rome; tel 0039 06 68892774
Pizza in Prati: Freni & Frizioni Draft
The latest pizzeria near the Vatican in Prati is a bright and cavernous casual dining restaurant and bar close to Castel Sant Angelo.
Why should you choose Freni & Frizioni Draft when picking a pizza place in Prati? As the second bar from the Freni & Frizioni team in Rome, you are guaranteed a warm and friendly welcome in a buzzing, informal environment.
While the OG Freni & Frizioni bar in Trastevere serves drinks only, Freni E Frizioni Draft offers a fun dining menu featuring affordable deep fried specialities and oven-baked pizzas.
Expect a range of draft beers plus a revolving menu of pre-batch cocktails priced at €5 or €6. While Freni & Frizioni Draft is currently offering dinner service, expect all-day-opening in the not too distant future – which means it’s the perfect place to chill with friends, organise an early family dinner, or work with your laptop.
Freni E Frizioni Draft Via Sforza Pallavicini, 12, Rome
Seafood near the Vatican: Properzio Osteria di Mare
Properzio – Osteria di Mare offers incredibly presented and affordable seafood and fish near the Vatican in Rome.
There isn’t a great deal of choice if you’re looking for seafood near the Vatican, so bookmark this place if you’re looking to eat at an affordable fish restaurant in Rome.
Chef Daniele Faia brings considerable experience, having previously worked at some of the best Rome fish restaurants, Il Porticciolo in Fiumicino and Livello 1 in EUR.
However, Faia has made the menu at Properzio – Osteria di Mare all his own. The restaurant’s tasteful ambience, a refined shabby chic, and the delicate hand thrown earthenware plates beautifully set off the jewel-like dishes.
I recommend you try a tasting menu and trust Faia’s creativity to get the best out of this experience. There are also some amazing, cheap seafood lunch deals, such as a two-course meal priced at €16. Full review here.
Properzio – Osteria di Mare Via Properzio 20, Rome Tel 0039 06 6830 8471
Restaurants near the Vatican: Mr Doyle Barbeque
Located on the edge of a rather wild park beyond Via dei Cavalleggeri, on the south side of San Pietro, this barbeque garden has proved one of Rome’s best-kept secrets this summer. You have to know about this cool, green field sheltered by trees and bushes – and plan to wear fairly sturdy shoes to eat here!
Once you’re inside the magical garden of Mr Doyle Barbeque, everything makes sense. The strings of fairy lights give it a lovely food festival vibe and in fact this barbeque garden is essentially a warm weather pop-up which is destined to to transition to reduced hours in October and make an appearance basically at weekends and bank holidays.
During the summer months, however, it’s open every day, with its no frills garden party vibe. The meat is slow grilled off-site and briefly warmed on site, in a safe and professional way, so there’s no smoke or unnecessary heat.
What to order? I recommend the festival-ready combo box (€16) which includes pulled pork, pulled beef, sticky ribs, pork belly and sausage, plus two mini buns so you can put the pulled pork and beef into delicious sandwiches. There are also fries and salads available, plus individual portions of all the barbeque options. The wine, beer and cocktail list is good and designed for park life – so expect individual cocktail portions pre-mixed by Drink It and a handful of craft beer labels.
They do only have chemical toilets so expect a 360° festival experience – although I can guarantee you won’t need wellies! Definitely one of the most unexpected restaurants near the Vatican!
Mr Doyle Barbeque Via Cavatore, Rome; tel +39 0664503277
Restaurants in Prati: Sogno Autarchico
This characteristic wine bar near the Vatican may look old-school, but there’s a delicious, slightly anarchical vibe thanks to owner Gianni and his colourful band of regulars. This is a wine bar in the strictest sense which won’t cater to tourists looking for soda and snacks. Instead, come ready to try some excellent Italian wines and an informal but quality dining experience.
Gianni serves up beef tartare, mouthwatering focaccia trays from his hometown of Genoa, savoury flans and slices of game with a menu that changes regularly. Best of all, try to drop in on one of his Saturday set lunches where you pay an incredibly reasonable fee – think around €30 – and the wine and food just keep coming.
Gianni chooses what arrives, of course, and you can expect a sharp word if you want to veer from his magnificent plan! Reservations recommended. All in all, one of the most interesting restaurants near the Vatican.
Sogno Autarchico Via Properzio 23, Tel +39 06 68801310
Restaurants near the Vatican: Les Etoiles
Les Etoiles Rome is a cocktail bar and fine-dining restaurant near the Vatican in Rome offering peerless rooftop views of Saint Peter’s Basilica.
Located in a sleepy side street close to Castel Sant Angelo and Piazza Cavour, Les Etoiles is the rooftop restaurant and bar of the Atlante Star Hotel in Rome, a luxury hotel with 70 rooms and suites.
Don’t be fooled by its neutral exteriors – Les Etoiles has the best rooftop with Vatican views in the whole of Rome. As one of the highest buildings this side of Saint Peter’s, you almost feel like you’re getting an exclusive audience with the Pope!
Thanks to its strategic position, Les Etoiles offers plenty of charms during the aperitivo hour when golden light slants across the rooftop terrace. You’ll be getting ready for a Vatican selfie from this peerless spot, on the building’s highest rooftop terrace.
Once the aperitivo hour is done at Les Etoiles, head to the lower terrace for fine dining. Think fish-focused gourmet food, with Saint Peter’s Basilica perched on the horizon like a jewellery box. As the sun goes down and the lights come up on Vatican City, this is an unforgettable experience! Full food review here.
Les Etoiles Via dei Bastioni, 1; Tel +39 06 686386
Restaurants in Prati: Carpaccio The Beef Boys
Carpaccio: the Beef Boys is an exciting new restaurant in Rome’s Prati district which specialises in raw meat dishes and top quality steaks.
Situated in a modern building just steps from Piazza Cavour, and not far from the Vatican, this meat-focused menu at Carpaccio in Prati specialises in that most Italian delicacy – carpaccio – while also welcoming fusion flavours to its varied menu.
Carpaccio, the Italian dish of thinly sliced, raw steak which is usually dressed with oil and lemon juice, rocket and shavings of parmesan, is served in multiple variants here at Carpaccio in Prati at impressive prices. This is one of the most popular restaurants near the Vatican thanks to its tasty dishes and well-priced menu so reservations are an absolute must. Full food review here.
Carpaccio the Beef Boys Via Ennio Quirino Visconti 8B Tel +39 0647548964
Where to eat near the Vatican: Benco
Why should you try Benco, an unassuming restaurant in Prati, not far from the Vatican? Look for no higher praise in the fact that locals love it. Offering smart and simple lunch menus which are perfect for a quick bite, the restaurant comes into its own in the evening, with an ambitious menu that runs the gamut from seasonal and local ingredients to modern plates with a touch of the exotic.
The plating displays flair and the dishes are deeply, soulfully Mediterranean – you are clearly in great hands with these consummate restaurant owners. Full food review here. Another one of my top restaurants near the Vatican!
Benco Ristorante Via Fabio Massimo 101; Tel +39 0639728933
Restaurants near the Vatican: Passpartout
Passpartout Restaurant near the Vatican is a great choice in touristy Borgo Pio. Featuring a wonderful secret garden – a true haven from the crowds – this is an authentic and well-priced option in one of the Vatican area’s most picturesque streets. Open for coffee, lunch, light bites, cocktails and dinner, Passpartout will take care of your needs nearly all day!
Borgo Pio is one of the prettiest streets close to the Vatican, lined with restaurants and bars and typified by a real buzz. However, many of the restaurants here have become tourist traps in recent years, and you should expect to be pounced on by half a dozen restaurant bookers as you walk down the street.
My advice is to keep walking to number 50, where Passpartout has set up its stall in a former 16th century building, with a charming secret garden in the back for low-season lunches and dinner in spring and summer. Full food review here.
Passpartout Borgo Pio 50; Tel +39 0640412368
If you have enjoyed this guide to the best restaurants near the Vatican and in Prati, don’t miss my other neighbourhood guides to the best restaurants and bars in Rome! These include my guide to where to eat near the Trevi Fountain, the best restaurants near Circus Maximus, the best restaurants and bars in Trastevere, and my Tiber Island guide.