Feasting Al Fresco

by Danilo Brunetti

October is the perfect time of the year to discover not only the artistic beauties of Rome, but also the pleasures of fine dining—two of the city’s main attractions. So with your camera around your neck and a knife and fork in hand, why not combine the two? Snag a table en plein air at one of these authentic eateries, and enjoy the best of Rome’s cuisine in one of its picturesque piazzas or charming backstreets.

Oio a Testaccio

Top of the list is Oio a Testaccio, a typical family-run trattoria in the authentic Testaccio district, specializing in traditional Roman cuisine, in particular dishes based on offals. Try rigatoni with pagliata (lamb intestines), or with oxtail sauce, Roman-style tripe with mint, or oven-baked lamb with potatoes, and don’t miss their homemade tiramisù. The charming sidewalk tables offer an ideal opportunity for soaking up the local color in this rich and vibrant neighborhood. Via Galvani, 43 – Tel. 065782680


Giggetto is located in the Jewish Ghetto right next door to the evocative ruins of the Portico of Octavia, making it an extraordinary setting for enjoying Jewish-Roman cuisine. In this timeless atmosphere, the neighborhood’s specialties, such as Jewish-style fried artichokes, battered-and-fried vegetables, and flawless amatriciana, taste even better. Via del Portico D’Ottavia, 21a – Tel. 066861105

Giardino Romano

Just down the street you’ll find Il Giardino Romano, a charming restaurant with an inviting inner garden. Locals flock here to savor authentic time-honored cuisine, prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients. Menu highlights include their unmissable pasta with pecorino cheese, black pepper, and chicory. Via del Portico D’Ottavia, 18 – Tel. 066809661

A few blocks from Campo de’ Fiori is Pierluigi, one of the trendier addresses of the moment, whose fresh, intriguing cuisine is yet another reason to book a table at its veranda under the stars. Don’t miss one of their most delicious original recipes: spaghetti with garlic, oil, fresh mint, and prawns. Piazza de’ Ricci, 144 – Tel. 066868717

Not far away, another unmissable restaurant is Camponeschi, a go-to spot for Rome’s international gourmets. The backdrop of magnificent Piazza Farnese with its elegant palace designed by Michelangelo, promises an unforgettable evening. The restaurant’s specialty is superbly prepared seafood and wild game; be sure to try their Carato wine rock lobster with rice Pilaf. Piazza Farnese, 50 – Tel. 066874927


For some traditional Roman atmosphere, there’s no better choice than the Trastevere area, with its many characteristic venues specializing in flavorful home-style cuisine. At Trattoria Da Teo, nestled in Piazza dei Ponziani, an enchanting square dripping with ivy on the quieter side of the neighborhood, traditional recipes reign supreme, and exquisite fresh seafood is prepared with a modern touch. Try their signature dish, spaghetti with anchovies and pecorino cheese. Piazza dei Ponziani, 7a – Tel. 065818355

For those who’d like to immerse themselves in the true spirit of Trastevere, dinner at Cecilia Santa Cucina is a must. This cozy restaurant proposes a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional Mediterranean and Roman dishes. Just a few of the delicious examples from the menu include their special carbonara with crispy artichokes; scallop “spaghetti” in a porcini mushroom and parmesan broth; cod profiteroles; and suckling pig roasted in beer and borage. Via dei Vascellari, 48 – Tel. 0639739161

Roma Sparita

Another Trastevere restaurant that offers an Instagrammable snapshot of Rome from the dinner table is Roma Sparita. It enjoys an enviable location in the large piazza in front of the church of Santa Cecilia, a friendly atmosphere and, above all, authentic Roman cuisine. Succulent primi include their famous cacio e pepe served in a bowl made entirely of melted Parmesan cheese. Piazza Santa Cecilia, 24 – Tel. 065800757

Back on the other side of the Tiber, Trattoria Da Luigi is an example of a perfect union between city and cuisine: simple dishes with intense Mediterranean flavors are exalted by a pinch of fantasy, like the octopus carpaccio or the homemade pasta in a delicate amberjack sauce, all served at one of the charming tables in the quaint, leafy piazza. Piazza Sforza Cesarini, 23 – Tel. 066865946

Da Luigi

Just a few steps away in breathtaking Piazza Navona, 4 Fiumi offers the diners the extraordinary chance to enjoy traditional Italian cuisine while gazing at breathtaking masterpieces of baroque art, most notably, Bernini’s Fountain of the Four Rivers. The menu is Mediterranean, offering seafood and classic pasta dishes, like rigatoni alla carbonara by the book. Piazza Navona, 37 – Tel. 066864028

Piccolo Abruzzo

Last, but certainly not least, Piccolo Abruzzo welcomes guests in an inviting veranda just steps from Via Veneto, one of the most photographed streets in the world, and guarantees diners the chance to see and be seen. Indulge in one of the specialties from Rome or Abruzzo such as schiaffoni all’amatriciana, grilled lamb kebabs, beef tagliata with porcini mushrooms, and, for dessert, blackberry tart or classic tiramisù. Via Sicilia, 237 – Tel. 0642820176