Why do we travel? Food! Are you in town and want to know where you can find the best pasta in Rome? We got you covered! You are about to find out where you can eat hearty bucatini amatriciana, creamy spaghetti carbonara, spicy enough tonnarelli cacio e pepe, and more.
Lucky for you, we love pasta. And since I don’t eat meat, unless we are visiting a vegan restaurant or I feel like having soup, I usually order one of the first courses on the menu, where normally pasta is the star of the show. After all, we are in Italy, where better than in Rome you can find amazing pasta dishes?
Romans have a true love for pasta in all its shapes and seasonings. Long, short, spaghetti, tonnarelli, gnocchi, rigatoni, ravioli. You name it, you are bound to find it in the city that is quickly imposing itself as Italy’s food capital.
This article wants to be an easy guide to navigate the different types of first courses and where to find the best pasta in Rome.
Table of Contents
- 1 What pasta is Rome famous for?
- 2 What kind of pasta is in Rome?
- 3 What is a must to eat in Rome?
- 4 Where to eat the best pasta in Rome
- 4.1 Felice A Testaccio for tonnarelli cacio e pepe (Testaccio)
- 4.2 Armando al Pantheon for traditional Roman pasta (Pantheon/Piazza Navona)
- 4.3 Il Convivio Troiani for sea carbonara pasta (Piazza Navona)
- 4.4 Le Mani in Pasta for great seafood pasta (Trastevere)
- 4.5 Colline Emiliane for one of the best lasagna in Rome (Barberini/Trevi Fountain)
- 4.6 EGGS, the best carbonara in Rome’s Trastevere
- 4.7 Lo Scopettaro for hearty amatriciana (Testaccio)
- 4.8 Matricianella for the best bucatini amatriciana in Rome’s Centro Storico
- 4.9 Checchino dal 1887 for rigatoni con la pajata (Testaccio)
- 4.10 Osteria Marè, great and affordable seafood pasta (Salario/Nomentano)
- 4.11 Cesare al Casaletto for fettuccine with porcini mushrooms (Casaletto/Gianicolense)
- 4.12 Piccolo Buco per the spicy penne all’arrabbiata pasta (Trevi)
- 4.13 Matricianella for gnocchi alla romana (Centro Storico)
- 4.14 Gino al Parlamento for pasta e fagioli alla romana (Centro Storico)
- 4.15 Sora Lella for pasta e broccoli romaneschi con brodo d’arzilla (Tiber Island)
- 4.16 Hostaria La Botticella for spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (Trastevere)
What pasta is Rome famous for?
- Spaghetti carbonara made with guanciale and cream of fresh eggs. Check out the restaurants with the best carbonara in Rome.
- Bucatini amatriciana, a long type of pasta seasoned with guanciale, Pecorino Romano cheese, tomato sauce, and black pepper.
- Tonnarelli cacio e pepe, a type of fresh long pasta seasoned with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper.
- Spaghetti gricia. Simply put, gricia is the amatriciana without tomato sauce.
The most famous pasta dishes in Rome can be narrowed down to four: carbonara, amatriciana, cacio e pepe, and gricia. Gricia is probably the lesser-known among tourists, but it’s also very popular among locals.
Apart from the illustrious quaternity, other pasta recipes in Rome worth trying include:
- Tagliatelle ai funghi porcini. Plant-based eaters will love tagliatelle pasta with porcini mushrooms. You won’t even need to add grated parmesan on top, it’s good as it is. While this is not originally from Rome, you can find it almost everywhere, sometimes tagliatelle, sometimes fettuccine.
- Rigatoni alla pajata. The bravest can sample this very traditional pasta in Rome. This is a recipe from the old cucina povera tradition. Pajata is the intestine of the young calf that has only eaten milk. The type of pasta used with the pajata is usually rigatoni so that part of the sauce will squeeze into the holes of the pasta itself.
- Fettuccine alla papalina. This is one of the latest inventions in the landscape of Roman pasta dishes but it quickly became pretty popular. Main ingredients? Prosciutto crudo ham, fresh cream, and green peas. Unfortunately, I don’t know any restaurant in Rome serving this pasta dish.
- Gnocchi alla romana. This is a type of gnocchi exclusive to the Roman tradition to eat on Thursday. In fact, they don’t look like the potato gnocchi you are used to. They don’t contain potatoes at all. They are made of semolina, milk, eggs, and cheese, and they look like disks served gratinéed and warm.
- Pasta e fagioli. This is a hybrid between a soup and a pasta dish. Delicious and warm, it’s Rome’s winter comfort food.
What kind of pasta is in Rome?
The pasta used in Rome is the type made with only durum wheat semolina and water. You will often find a dish with fresh pasta, such as the famous tonnarelli cacio e pepe, but the dried version is also very popular and combines with all the sauces.
Sometimes, you will also find egg pasta, so with the addition of eggs in the dough. This is more of a northern Italian recipe, especially from the Emilia-Romagna region, but it’s used in Rome, too.
Adding to that, apart from tonnarelli and rigatoni, in Rome you can also find other types of pasta such as stuffed ravioli dumplings. These can be served stuffed with fish, meat, or veggie mix and also seasoned with any of these three options.
What is a must to eat in Rome?
There are several must-try dishes in Rome. Carnivores are in heaven because most dishes are meat-based, from the pasta-based first courses to the classic mains. Some of the must-eat in Rome include spaghetti carbonara, bucatini amatriciana, tonnarelli cacio e pepe, coda alla vaccinara oxtail, trippa alla romana tripe, and Roman carciofi artichokes when in season, both prepared Roman style and alla giudìa Kosher style.
Where to eat the best pasta in Rome
Felice A Testaccio for tonnarelli cacio e pepe (Testaccio)
Historic Roman restaurant, at Felice a Testaccio, tonnarelli cacio e pepe has become a ritual rather than a simple dish. To serve it, in fact, the waiter will bring two forks and will mix and stir the tonnarelli pasta with the cacio cheese cream until fully coated.
A rich sprinkle of quality black pepper and more grated Roman Pecorino cheese complete the culinary masterpiece.
Even though located in a little-touristy neighborhood, Testaccio, probably due to viral social media videos, Felice is quite popular also among tourists. This is why, although serving traditional Roman dishes, their version is more “moderate” than other local trattorias. Why do I say this? For example, their cacio e pepe contains a little percentage of Parmigiano Reggiano, which is not in the original recipe but conveys a more delicate taste.
Nevertheless, Felice is a sort of institution among locals, too, so you are sure you are not going to find the tourist menus that surround Piazza Navona.
- Address: Via Mastro Giorgio 29.
- Working hours: Every day 12.30-3.30 pm and 7-11.30 pm.
You think you can make it? Read our tonnarelli cacio e pepe recipe and surprise your friends!
Widely regarded as one of the best restaurants in Rome, Armando is located right beside the Pantheon and serves all the Roman pasta classics. Even though located in possibly the most tourist-packed square meter of the city, Armando somehow managed to retain the original charm and authenticity he was founded in 1961.
Here, you are sure to find some of the best pasta in Rome with the perk that you don’t even need to search too hard. But there is a catch: you MUST book, otherwise there is no way you are going to find a free table.
- Address: Salita de’ Crescenzi 31.
- Working hours: Monday to Saturday 12.30-3 pm and 7-11 pm. Closed on Sunday.
Carbonara needs very little introduction and Il Convivio Troiani is one of the restaurants in Rome where you can enjoy a great sea version of the famous Roman recipe.
Creamy enough and crunchy enough, all its ingredients are carefully selected and balanced. With the classic carbonara being offered in so many places, sometimes finding different versions is refreshing. Preparing it with fish eggs and sea bass bottarga roe, Il Convivio Troiani calls their carbonara “carbomare”. If you are into fish flavors, do give it a try.
- Address: Vicolo dei Soldati 31
- Working hours: Monday to Saturday 7.30-10.30 pm. Sunday closed.
Le Mani in Pasta for great seafood pasta (Trastevere)
This has been a pleasant recent discovery for us. Since we are often wandering about the alleys of Trastevere, ending up in this newly opened restaurant was revealed to be a success. Our luck was tow-folded because when we arrived places were very limited. We managed to get in just because we promised we would finish before the next couple who had a reservation would arrive.
The collaboration between two chefs, one from Puglia and one from Sardinia, could only result in fantastic seafood. I ordered spaghetti with bottarga mullet roe, clams, and prawns and it was divine.
Since Trastevere is a must if you are staying at least 3 days in Rome, if you like fish and seafood, I strongly recommend you give this young restaurant a try.
- Address: Via dei Genovesi 37.
- Working hours: Tuesday to Sunday 12.30-3 pm and 7.30-11 pm. Closed on Monday. Booking recommended.
Colline Emiliane for one of the best lasagna in Rome (Barberini/Trevi Fountain)
Originally, lasagne is not a Roman pasta dish. It comes from the Emilia Romagna region and in Rome, you can find one of the best lasagna pasta at Colline Emiliane because this is a historical Roman restaurant serving foods from this northern Italian region.
Here, your green lasagna (the dough made with spinach) is served with a typical ragout sauce from Emilia Romagna.
- Address: Via degli Avignonesi 22.
- Working hours: Tuesday to Saturday 12.45-2-45 pm and 7.30-10.45 pm. Closed Sunday and Monday.
Do you want to learn to make great pasta from scratch? Read about our experience with Devour Tours’ pasta-making class in Trastevere!
EGGS, the best carbonara in Rome’s Trastevere
The name says it all. At EGGS in Trastevere, you will find eggs in all their versions, colors, and flavors. Being carbonara egg-based, this restaurant made it a challenge to prepare in many different ways. Here, you won’t be picking carbonara from the main menu but one of the many carbonaras from their own “carbonara menu”.
Along with the classic carbonara, EGGS proposes enticing versions such as “viola” (purple) with the addition of caramelized red onion, “gialla” (yellow) with the addition of saffron stigmas, “nera” (black) with black truffle, “orange” (arancione) with pumpkin and toasted almonds, “verde” (green) with Roman broccoli, “carbonera” with the addition of sepia ink and crisp pumpkin, “rosso fuoco” (red fire) with ‘nduja spicy sausage and stracciatella fresh cheese.
I have tried several of their carbonaras such as with black truffle, with red prawns, and my husband with ‘nduja chili sausage, and loved them.
- Address: Via Natale del Grande 52
- Working hours: Everyday lunch and dinner.
Lo Scopettaro for hearty amatriciana (Testaccio)
Authentic and vigorous, the amatriciana pasta you are going to eat at Lo Scopettaro in the traditional Testaccio neighborhood is the right-in-your-face type. Served with rigatoni short pasta or fresh tonnarelli, Lo Scopettaro’s amatriciana is made according to tradition and attracts every day the locals who know where to eat and what to pick.
Testaccio is known to be the haven of traditional Rome and Lo Scopettaro has been an institution here since its opening in 1930. They have a wide menu able to cater to different tastes, but if you are in Rome for a few days, the advice is to go with tradition and try amatriciana or carbonara.
- Address: Lungotevere Testaccio 7.
- Working hours: Every day 12.30-2-45 pm and 7.30-10.45 pm.
Matricianella for the best bucatini amatriciana in Rome’s Centro Storico
I won’t hide it, here, you are very likely to find a long line waiting to try some of the best pasta in Rome. While many restaurants switched to shorter types of pasta like rigatoni for convenience when serving this traditional Roman sauce, chef Giovanni Fabrotti decided to stick to the original bucatini.
Proud to be using seasonal ingredients sourced from small producers and local farmers, Matricianella makes bucatini amatriciana pasta according to tradition, letting the guanciale (pork cheek cured meat) stir-fry until crunchy and until all its fat is out before taking it out and adding the tomato sauce.
The only personal addition of the chef to the old Roman pasta dish is to slightly simmer the guanciale with white or red wine.
A generous sprinkle of black pepper and Pecorino Romano cheese completes the masterpiece that attracts hundreds of tourists and locals daily.
- Address: Via del Leone 4
- Working hours: Monday to Saturday 12.30-3 pm and 7.30-11 pm. Sunday closed.
Checchino dal 1887 for rigatoni con la pajata (Testaccio)
The bravest in your group will try rigatoni con la pajata at least once in Rome.
With the term “pajata”, Romans indicate the first part of the small intestine of the calf that has only eaten milk. The small intestine gets cleaned but it still contains the milk eaten by the little veal.
The origins of the pajata are shared with most of the traditional Roman dishes. Using parts of the animal’s entrails is a common trait of the cucina povera that defines today’s Rome typical foods. What back in the day were kitchen scraps, today make up for a treat in the restaurant.
Pajata is used to make a few dishes including a sauce for rigatoni pasta and at Checchino’s you will find one of the best pajata pasta in Rome loyally made following tradition.
After being cut into pieces, the small intestine is cooked with herbs such as celery, garlic, onion, carrot, chili, tomato, and olive oil. A sprinkle of pecorino romano on top completes the work and makes this one of the best pasta in Rome.
- Address: Via di Monte Testaccio 30
- Working hours: Wednesday to Sunday 12.30-3 pm and 7.30-11 pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.
Osteria Marè, great and affordable seafood pasta (Salario/Nomentano)
This is a relatively new discovery in the local food scene. When it comes to fish and seafood avoiding the risk of breaking the bank, Osteria Marè serves one of the best pasta in Rome that recalls your sea resort meals and is affordable.
Located in the Salario/Nomentano neighborhood near Villa Torlonia and Quartiere Coppedè in the heart of a residential quarter with a strong office presence, the restaurant offers a business menu for local workers and students only for lunch inclusive of the first course and main for 10€.
Their menu changes constantly because it all depends on the catch of the day. But you will always be sure the result will be no less than delicious. The pasta dishes they offer include original creations such as linguine pasta with raw tuna tartare, lime and mint, as well as winks to the tradition with courses like fresh tonnarelli cacio e pepe pasta with raw prawns tartare and seafood spaghetti carbonara pasta with crunchy artichokes.
If you end up here in your quest for the best pasta in Rome, you are sure to come back.
- Address: Viale Regina Margherita 225.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 12.30-3 pm and 7.30-11 pm. Closed on Monday.
Cesare al Casaletto for fettuccine with porcini mushrooms (Casaletto/Gianicolense)
While this is not a strictly Roman pasta dish, you will find it very common in most restaurants. This is also a fantastic option for vegans because it’s delicious and fully plant-based. The sauce in itself is very tasty so you won’t even need to add grated cheese on top.
Cesare al Casaletto is a well-known traditional restaurant in Rome. Even though not close to the city center, it’s easy to reach by tram n.8 from Piazza Venezia, Largo Argentina, or Trastevere.
Even though their fettuccine ai funghi porcini pasta is delicious and saucy, I would probably recommend stretching your way up to here only if you have enough time, say you are staying at least a week in Rome. If you only have 2 days in Rome, I suggest having lunch or dinner near the landmarks or your hotel.
- Address: Via del Casaletto 45.
- Opening hours: Open 12.45-3 pm and 7.45-11 pm. Closed on Wednesday.
Piccolo Buco per the spicy penne all’arrabbiata pasta (Trevi)
If you are following a plant-based diet, this dish is for you. Extremely simple and healthy, penne all’arrabbiata is another pasta dish from the old cucina povera, poor man’s tradition. It requires only a few ingredients: garlic, red chili, olive oil, parsley, and tomato. When recipes are very simple and require only a few ingredients, it’s pivotal that such ingredients are high-quality.
In fact, Piccolo Buco serves penne all’arrabbiata pasta loyal to the Roman tradition with red garlic and prime-quality tomato, red chili from Sicily, and Pecorino Romano cheese. The pasta used for this sauce is Penne Felicetti made with the excellent ancient wheat grain Senatore Cappelli.
Piccolo Buco is mainly a pizza place and one of our favorite restaurants near the Trevi Fountain. Their pizza is delicious and the main star of the menu, but this includes also a good choice of pasta dishes and mains as well as fresh side dishes.
- Address: Via del Lavatore 91.
- Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 12-11 pm. Closed on Monday.
Matricianella for gnocchi alla romana (Centro Storico)
The original recipe of Roman-style gnocchi only includes semolina durum wheat and water, and they are served with only butter and cheese on top. Unfortunately, there are not many restaurants in Rome that serve the traditional recipe.
Often, when you see gnocchi on the menu, they mean potato gnocchi, and usually, the addition “alla romana” (Roman style), means that the sauce used is a typical Roman sauce such as amatriciana.
Potato gnocchi is also part of Italian gastronomy, but they are not originally from Rome. While gnocchi is a very ancient recipe and every region has its own version, potato gnocchi is an evolution of these invented in northern Italy, some say in Emilia Romagna, some in the Veneto region.
The original Roman gnocchi doesn’t contain potatoes are have the shape of small disks. They are cooked in the oven with cheese and butter. Today, you can enjoy great Roman gnocchi at Matricianella in the city center, still made and served according to tradition. I have seen that also Ristorante Da Massi in Trastevere serves traditional Roman gnocchi but I don’t know the place so I can’t say I would recommend trying there this recipe.
- Address: Via del Leone 4.
- Opening hours: 12.30-3 pm and 7.30-11 pm. Closed on Sunday.
Gino al Parlamento for pasta e fagioli alla romana (Centro Storico)
Unfortunately, this delicious pasta with beans Roman-style is not served in many restaurants, you will find it in the most traditional ones. In fact, you are likely to find it at Gino al Parlamento every day or at Felice a Testaccio only on Tuesday as it was the Roman food calendar back in the day.
This is a typical Rome comfort food, perfect for the winter season because it’s warm, creamy, and very nourishing. You can find pasta with beans soup in many regions of Italy, but everywhere a different version. In Rome, we use carrots, celery, onion, and tomato, and the beans are either cannellini or borlotti. Some use a small pasta while some serve crushed spaghetti.
Unfortunately, around the more touristy areas, not many restaurants still serve this Roman dish, and you might need to go to more local trattorias to find it. However, among the best traditional Roman restaurants, Gino is where you can try a delicious one.
- Address: Vicolo Rosini 4.
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 1-3 pm and 8-11 pm. Closed on Sunday.
Sora Lella for pasta e broccoli romaneschi con brodo d’arzilla (Tiber Island)
This Roman pasta dish is more of a thick soup. To make it they use short pasta and the main ingredients are Roman broccoli and thornback ray stock. It’s served as a first course or even as a consommé if you prefer, before the main dish.
Very tasty and nourishing, this soup remains liquid but also creamy due to the presence of broccoli.
The lovely trattoria of Sora Lella on Tiber Island serves a delicious version of this pasta with Roman broccoli and ray soup. This is a fantastic winter dish that will keep you going but won’t make you feel too heavy.
- Address: Via di Ponte Quattro Capi 16.
- Opening hours: Monday to Saturday 12.30-2.45 pm and 7.30-10.45 pm. Closed on Sunday.
Hostaria La Botticella for spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino (Trastevere)
Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino, or “ajo, ojo e peperoncino” how they call it in Rome, is truly a simple Roman pasta dish. Made of only three ingredients that you are likely to always have in your pantry, this is a perfect testimony to what “cucina povera” (poor man’s cuisine) means.
Extremely affordable with only garlic, oil, and red chili pepper, this spaghetti pasta in Rome is a favorite. For an extra touch of flavor and color, add a dash of chopped parsley to the final dish.
Hostaria La Botticella, a popular restaurant in the Trastevere neighborhood, is one of the few traditional Roman trattorias that still serve it. Don’t think that just because the ingredients are few, the taste will be sacrificed. You are in Rome, after all, so if you order this pasta, you will be satisfied and feel light.
- Address: Vicolo del Leopardo 39a.
- Opening hours: Thursday to Tuesday 7-11 pm. Closed on Wednesday.