Rome is one of the most fantastic places in the world to visit, the history is breath-taking with ruins all over the city, you cannot forget it. Amongst stunning churches with beautiful interiors and water fountains blessed with intricate details, the ancient ruins lay bare amongst the hustle and bustle of contemporary streets.
The food on offer is out of this world; affordable, local and simply delicious. The pizza, pasta and gelato will never fail to impress and you don’t need to seek out expensive places to enjoy the best fare. Alex Head, founder of the Social Pantry, shares her top picks for eating and drinking local in the vibrant Monti district.
With a queue out the door at 12:30pm the expectation was high and it really did make an impression! It is an award winning yet affordable restaurant that encourages you to write on the walls giving it a relaxed vibe, adding to the family feel is the lovely touch of having the owner, who must have been in her 80’s, pottering around clearing tables and checking you enjoyed your meal.
Enjoying some burrata ahead of my pasta, both washed down with their house red wine meant I really was in heaven. The rigatoni was (of course) perfectly cooked and the bacon fat had softly melted into the sauce, this mixed with the wonderful parmesan meant it really was divine. At the time each bite was so delicious I couldn’t help but say it and I cannot stop thinking about it since! Anyone going to Rome…this restaurant is a must.
Best bit: Bacon & Chilli Rigatoni with Parmesan
Address: Via Panisperna, 214, 00184 Roma
Tucked away on a side street of Monti, this brilliant pizzeria comes with good recommendation from the locals, predictably there was a queue, however after putting down my name we waited close to half an hour but that only added to the charm of it. With three chefs manning the pizza oven and waiters whizzing past at speed to keep up with the turning tables it wasn’t long before we were tucking in.
The menu was simple, starting with a stack of tempura zucchini which was delicious, the perfectly light batter teamed with just enough salt meant it was a perfect starter. I opted for a margherita pizza topped with fiery fresh rocket. A thin, crisp stone baked pizza in Rome is always going to taste great.
Best bit: Tempura zucchini
Address: Via della Madonna dei Monti, 95, 00184 Roma
This café was just brilliant; full of Italians getting their morning coffee hit. The coffee was first class and croissants delicious but the best part of it was the buzz, lots of locals catching up, popping in and out, greeting each other and enjoying a Saturday morning. It was fun to watch the slick dynamics of the well trained team as they managed to serve pastries and make coffee at impressive speed! I loved the streams of scratch cards and cigarettes on offer which added to the classic setting.
Best bit: Espresso
Address: Via dei Serpenti, 165, 00184 Roma
Set just west of Monti in the vibrant Trastevere neighbourhood, this restaurant was so local that, as we walked in, the staff were almost surprised to see us! A local taxi driver had recommended it to us and it didn’t fail to impress. With a wheel of parmesan on the side that was being hollowed with each pasta order, we knew it was going to be delicious. The red wine was a local grape from just outside Rome and perfectly suited the melt in your mouth ham, for main I opted for a simple tomato, pecorino and parmesan pasta which was divine.
I am a huge fan of tiramisu and wanted to enjoy it at the end of at least one meal while in Rome so there was a lot of pressure for the Tiramisu to impress. It did….covered in coco, the biscuits oozed coffee but were not too soft and perfectly balanced the sweetness of the cream. I got my hit, and, like with everything was left wanting more.
Best bit: Tiramisu
Address: 64 Piazza di S. Cosimato
This hotel is home to a great spot to watch the sun setting whilst enjoying a drink. As the name suggests, this classic hotel overlooks the Roman Forum. It is a small terrace with a peaceful view; you can see the coliseum to the left and the Roman Forum straight ahead. A glass of prosecco and the view will ease you nicely into the evening.
Best bit: Glass of Prosecco!
Address: Via Tor de’ Conti, 25-30, 00184 Roma
Where to stay in and around Rome’s Monti district
1880 Atypical Rooms – With just 6 rooms, this is a sweet and simple spot on the bustling Via Nazionale. The style is sleek and open plan and the staff are lovely.
The Fifteen Keys Hotel – This is a luxe and lovely choice for your stay in the historic Monti district. The design offers a wonderful blend of old and new and the staff have some great local tips to share.