Get off the beaten track and drink local with the locals
Like all major European capitals, The tourist areas of Rome are difficult to avoid or, at times, to resist. After a journey of missed connections, confusing routes and mangled language if you’re not Italian, it’s tempting to stumble into a neighborhood like Trastevere, where English is widely spoken and familiar menu items can encourage you to give in and settle for something comfortable.
If you want to eat and drink like a Roman, think outside the box. Just across the river, the neighboring historically working-class neighborhoods of Testaccio and Ostiense have blossomed over the past decade, becoming more authentic eating and drinking destinations. It’s no secret to many travelers or frequent visitors to Rome, but you’ll see few fanny-packers, selfie sticks and white trainers here. Take the subway (Metropolitan) to the Piramide stop and you’re pretty much in the middle of things. A stop further afield at Garbatella puts you close to other options in a historic neighborhood with quirky design. By no means exhaustive, here is a starter kit for drinking like a Roman in these neighborhoods.
The Antagonista Spiriti & Cicchetti, Via del Commercio, 28. A small place almost under the historic gazometri on a side street away from the busy main streets, the new property permeates the menu and the unpretentious spirit of the place. Venetian-style snacks, an Italian-centric list, and spritzes of various styles.
Ch1887, Via di Monte Testaccio, 30. Nestled on the second floor of the 135-year-old Checchino 1887, now in its sixth generation‚ and offering a bespoke cocktail menu that reflects the culinary traditions of this historic city-transforming neighborhood. meat (especially known for its cuisine based on offal) through cocktail and food pairings. A creative touch that crosses tradition and trend.
Bar dei Cesaroni, Piazza Giovanni da Triora, 6. Italians know it well as the local sports bar of football club AS Roma, and it is gaining a wider following thanks to the popular soap opera, I’ Cesaroni. Located in the Garbatella district, it’s worth the detour outside the city walls (the metro stops nearby).
Bernabéi Liquori, Via Luca della Robbia, 12. Bustling neighborhood wine shop and Piazza Testaccio outpost that distributes widely throughout the city. You may not get personalized service here, but the selection is large and well curated, offering a good selection of Italian wines. If you can catch a staff, you will find a knowledgeable guide.
Eataly, Piazzale XII Ottobre 1492. You can go to an Eataly in the United States, but there’s nothing quite like visiting the Italian epicure in context. The Roman site, the largest in the global chain, opened its doors in the former Air Terminal Ostiense near the train station ten years ago and was extended in 2018. It has become the destination for fine Italian cuisine, even for Italians, whether to eat there or shop. for takeout. No Italian region or grape variety is overlooked in the extensive wine selection, and you can find small, well-priced wines from smaller regions. La Birreria offers a selection of craft beers and some 400 other selections from around the world.
Enoteca Giansanti, Via Ostiense, 34. Run by the second generation of a Testaccio family, the enoteca and wine shop offers an extensive representation of Italian wines, food and wine pairings and a weekly ‘Giansanti Jam Night’ (but check the website for scheduled eventwhich may have been suspended during the pandemic).
Enoteca La Mescita, Via Luigi Fincati 44. Mescita means “pouring the wine”, and they do it well in this small wine shop in Garbatella focused on natural wine. Organic and biodynamic local wines are in the spotlight. Small plates to share include vegetarian and gluten-free options. The owner steps on the ground, ready to pour.
Latta Fermente e Miscele, Via Antonio Pacinotti, 83. A street-level wine cellar atmosphere addition to the former Biondi Mills in Ostiense, said to have been inspired by 1950s American soda companies. Craft beers, low-fat natural wines intervention and a long list of craft cocktails. The “laboratorio di Latta” offers other low-alcohol fermentations – seltzers and sodas and a passion fruit rice wine.
jazz clubVia Ostiense, 385. Formerly a car repair shop (“Casa delradiator”), not far from the Basilica of San Paolo, daily live music, jam sessions owned by a former journalist specializing in culture and entertainment for Il Messaggero, one of Rome’s daily newspapers.
MASTO in Testaccio, Via Galvani, 39/41. Lovely little restaurant and wine bar just off the square with old school touches like meats hanging from the ceiling. Quiet and relaxed, very popular with locals, so book ahead.
Taba Cafe Beat, Via del Gazometro, 44. Dusted off and redone in the space of the old and beloved Mercat Bistrot & Old Bar, a more stylish casual bar with a focus on seafood. Serviceable, but without the charm of its old tenant.