At Felice a Testaccio historic restaurant in Rome for a hearty traditional meal

When in Italy’s capital, I assure you, you don’t want to leave before enjoying a hearty dish of tonnarelli cacio e pepe at Rome historic restaurant Da Felice a Testaccio.

If you want to explore the flavours and recipes of Roman traditional cuisine, Felice a Testaccio is definitely one of the best restaurants in Rome.

Cacio e pepe at Felice a Testaccio
My lip-smacking tonnarelli cacio e pepe at Felice a Testaccio in Rome

A traditional trattoria in a traditional Roman neighbourhood, it was founded in 1936 by Felice Trivelloni, who took over the old-style osteria of his father Guido, where you would only be served to drink and the food you would bring it yourself.

Back in 1936, Testaccio was not a wealthy area of Rome, but it definitely has always been an authentic one. Now, it’s a hip neighbourhood, full of restaurants, bars, gelaterie, nightclubs, shops and boasting a fair share of attractions from old and modern history.

Felice a Testaccio is still run by the same Trivelloni family who carries on with tradition of both their neighbourhood and their ancestors.

READ MORE: To discover traditional recipes and learn how to make them, take one of the many great food tours in Rome!

Our experience, what to order and how to reach Felice a Testaccio traditional restaurant in Rome

Lunch at Felice a Testaccio, our experience

Saltimbocca alla Romana
Saltimbocca alla Romana at Felice a Testaccio

I admit, we were lucky. We hadn’t booked, and we still found a little table for us. It might be because it was a weekday and probably because we were only four, but next time I wouldn’t risk it. The restaurant, very large and with plenty of seating capacity, filled minutes after our arrival.

Even though not in the immediate city centre, Felice a Testaccio is very popular, hence always crowded.

Grabbed our longed-for table, we started perusing the menu. Felice is traditional in every sense of the word. Not only their dishes and cooking style have been made the old way since 1936, but also their menu calendar follows the tradition.

For example, back in the day, Thursday was the day of coda alla vaccinara, so Felice still serves it only on Thursday. On a Wednesday you will find veal shank with green peas, Friday is the day of fish dishes, and so on and so forth.

lamb felice a testaccio
Roasted lamb at Felice a Testaccio

Some of the dishes are made every, like the most famous tonnarelli cacio e pepe with Pecorino Romano cheese and black pepper, spaghetti alla carbonara, bucatini all’amatriciana or saltimbocca alla romana, veal scallops cooked with cured meat and sage on top.

I ordered tonnarelli cacio e pepe because it’s one of my favourite dishes and even though very traditional and apparently easy to make, I found not everywhere in Rome they make it properly, either cheating with the cheese or just not following the right recipe. As expected, at Felice a Testaccio the cacio e pepe is outstanding. The waiter brings it to the table and mix it in front of you for the last creamy touch. A very generous amount of high-quality Pecorino and black pepper do the trick, and what you get is a lip-smacking Roman culinary experience.

I didn’t take a main course but since it was artichoke season I opted for a side dish and had the most tender carciofo alla romana (artichoke Roman-style) ever.

My husband loved his roasted lamb with potatoes, perfectly cooked in the oven, and my parents merrily tucked into their saltimbocca alla romana and bucatini all’amatriciana, thick spaghetti served al dente in a juicy tomato sauce with guanciale cured meat.

artichoke felice a testaccio rome
Carciofo alla Romana artichoke at Felice a Testaccio

Felice a Testaccio is not a cheap eat. Especially if you add the wine, for which a bottle can go from 30 up to even 90 euro.

The price of the dishes, however, are not extreme. A first course ranges from 13 to 15 euro, a main course some 15 to 20 euro.

My cacio e pepe was 13 euro, my husband’s roasted lamb with potato was 19 euro and one of the priciest on the menu. Side dishes like salads, artichokes, sauteed chicory, or the seasonal veggie of the moment are about 7 euro.

Some of the traditional dishes to try at Felice a Testaccio are bucatini all’amatriciana, spaghetti alla carbonara, pollo alla cacciatora (chicken cooked in white wine), coda alla vaccinara (beef oxtail slowly simmered in a celery and tomato sauce), lingua in salsa verde (beef tongue in a green sauce), rigatoni pajata (pasta with offal in a tomato sauce), tripe on a tomato sauce, if you don’t mind the slightly off-putting consistency (I can never eat tripe).

Felice serves also its own delicious creations such as spaghetti alla Felice with cherry tomatoes, fresh herbs and salty ricotta cheese, spaghetti with clams, grilled or fried fish, beef steak, or stracotto di manzo in vino rosso (overcooked beef stew in red wine).

What to see and do around Felice a Testaccio

As the name states, Felice a Testaccio is located in the former working-class neighbourhood next to Ostiense, one of my favourite areas to explore Rome’s industrial archaeology.

Here are some of the places to visit and things to do close to Felice:

  • Non-Catholic Cemetery. Once the burial place for foreigners and believers of other religions, Rome’s Cimitero Acattolico is a fascinating cluster of statues and stories.Some of the notables buried here are politician and founder of the Italian Communist Party Antonio Gramsci, English poet John Keats and the son of German writer Goethe. Check out our post for more details about our experience at Rome’s Non-Catholic Cemetery.
  • Pyramid of Cestius. Right next to the non-Catholic Cemetery, you won’t miss the big white marble pyramid. This is the funerary mausoleum of Roman public dignitary Gaius Cestius and was built between the 18th and 12th century BC. It’s possible to visit the Pyramid only with a tour, tickets are 5.50 euro with the mandatory addition of 2 euro for online booking.
  • See the local street art. Just like the neighbouring Ostiense district, also in Testaccio you can see great artistic murals, such as the Jumping Wolf in Via Galvani.
  • Visit Mercato Testaccio. Recently moved indoor in a new and modern building, Testaccio Market is a great place to see and taste a sample of Rome’s and Lazio’s produce and recipes. Fresh veggies, fruits, meat from local farming, cakes and desserts, hearty sandwiches for a grab-and-go meal, here you can find just about everything in a loud and traditional atmosphere.
  • Enjoy a great artisan gelato. One of my favourite artisan, all-natural gelato in Rome is Brivido in Via Giovanni Battista Bodoni 62B. A delicious gelato made the old way, you can find also a great selection of vegan and sugar-free flavours.
  • Try Trapizzino. In Testaccio is the first Trapizzino shop, a creation by pizzaiolo Stefano Callegari. It’s pretty filling so you might have it for dinner or as an early aperitivo. Trapizzino has the shape of the typical bar sandwich “tramezzino” but made with the pizza dough and filled with traditional Roman recipes.

READ MORE: First time in Rome? See our post to discover the most famous attractions!

Tips for a perfect experience at Felice a Testaccio

  • Book in advance. You might be lucky and find a small table if you show up early when it opens. But if you are in Rome for a few days, I wouldn’t risk it, especially on weekends. Call from a week to a couple of days in advance and secure your space.
  • Check out the menu beforehand. As mentioned above, the traditional dishes on the menu change every day, so if there is one you really want to try, you should go on that day. For example, if you want coda alla vaccinara, you need to go on a Thursday. Trust me, if you go on a Wednesday, you won’t find it. See the menu here.
  • Use Google Maps. To get there, you can easily use Google Maps as it will indicate the public transport and the walking distances.

Address and how to reach Felice a Testaccio

  • Address: Via Mastro Giorgio 29.
  • Phone number: +39 06 574 6800.
  • Opening hours: Daily 12.30-3 pm and 7-11.30 pm. Booking accepted only over the phone from Monday to Saturday from 10 am and 7 pm.
  • How to reach Felice a Testaccio: Metro B (Piramide stop), train (Ostiense station), by tram 3 or 8, or buses 23, 75, 280, 716, 718, 719, 775.

READ MORE: Check out our detailed guide to better navigate Rome public transport.

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