A Wine Lover’s Guide to Rome

Heading to Italy's historic capital? Here's how to make the most of your stay, including the ten best places to eat and drink in the Eternal City.
Alessia Meli, General Manager and Sommelier at Antica Pesa, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright

Rome may be a bustling capital city and one of the world’s leading tourist destinations, but it’s also a place to enjoy la dolce vita. It’s easy here to kick back with a glass of bubbly and a plate of local delicacies, or with a rare bottle and a three-course dinner. From informal eateries to swanky restaurants and wine bars that are neighborhood institutions, here’s your guide to finding bites and bottles in the Eternal City.

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Salumeria Roscioli, Rome, Italy
Salumeria Roscioli, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright

Enoteche (Wine Bars)

Carla Trimani, at Trimani Wine Bar, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright
Carla Trimani, at Trimani Wine Bar, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright

Trimani Il Wine Bar

Run by the Trimani family, this is the spot where Romans and visiting wine producers go to enjoy a glass or two with a bite of cheese or a meal. Housed next door to the Trimani wine shop, which was established in 1821 and is Rome’s oldest wine seller, the setting is simple and the vibe friendly. The list has more than 400 offerings divided into casual, classic and cult categories. Wines are sold at the same price as in the adjacent retail shop, which means some of the best quality-price ratios in the city. The menu changes frequently, but it always offers cheeses, salami and Roman dishes.

Enoteca Cavour 313

With roots that trace to 1935, when it was a shop that sold wines, liqueurs and oils, this storied establishment was transformed into a wine bar in 1979 and has been a go-to spot since for Rome’s food and wine lovers. You’ll find more than 1,000 labels from Italy, Spain and France, and a by-the-glass menu that is constantly evolving. There are also hearty appetizers, salads, charcuterie, main courses and house-made desserts available, featuring top-quality ingredients that include local fruits and vegetables.

Artichokes drizzled with olive oil at Enoteca Cavour 313, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright
Artichokes drizzled with olive oil at Enoteca Cavour 313, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright

Cul de Sac

You may have to wait for a seat at this fun, informal spot, but the food, plus an amazing wine list, make it worth it.

Cul de Sac Enoteca in Piazza di Pasquino, Rome, Italy
Cul de Sac Enoteca in Piazza di Pasquino, Rome, Italy / Susan Wright

Founded in 1977 and situated in a small square on the south side of Piazza Navona, it’s one of Rome’s oldest wine bars. The long, narrow interior is lined with some of the most famous bottles in Italy, but the best seating is outside. The list offers more than 1,500 labels and a quality by-the-glass selection. The house-made pastas are a must-try.

Achile Enoteca al Parlamento, Rome Italy / Photo by Susan Wright
Achile Enoteca al Parlamento, Rome Italy / Photo by Susan Wright

Enoteca Achilli al Parlamento

Carrying more than 6,000 labels, this wine shop, bar and Michelin-starred restaurant offers coveted and rare wines from Italy and around the world. At the bar, you can pair a glass of wine with canapés or enjoy a light lunch among the bottles. Guided by Chef Massimo Viglietti, the restaurant serves up unconventional tasting menus that include everything from Dover sole to quinto quarto (offal) ravioli. Diners choose their wines in the enoteca and then enjoy them at the restaurant with no markup.

Salumeria Roscioli

A delicatessen, wine bar and restaurant, this is a favorite among Romans and popular with tourists. You’ll find more than 2,800 wine labels that include a remarkable selection of French offerings, and hundreds of cheeses, cold cuts and gourmet products. The restaurant focuses on traditional Roman fare, but includes dishes from other parts of Italy. Make sure to leave room for the excellent desserts. The restaurant is always packed, so make reservations.

Chef-Sommelier Eliana Catalani in the kitchen of Spirito Divino, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright
Chef-Sommelier Eliana Catalani in the kitchen of Spirito Divino, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan Wright

Ristoranti

La Pergola

La Pergola's lamb on tomato sauce, with salty ricotta and basil / Photo by Susan Wright
La Pergola’s lamb on tomato sauce, with salty ricotta and basil / Photo by Susan Wright

On the rooftop of the exclusive Rome Cavalieri hotel, La Pergola offers an unbeatable view of the city. Chef Heinz Beck heads Rome’s first and only three-Michelin-star restaurant. A unique take on Italian and Mediterranean dishes, Beck’s creations are accompanied by two extensive wine lists created by Head Sommelier Marco Reitano: one dedicated to Italy’s top names and another with celebrated wines from around the world.

Antica Pesa

Marineted cod fish carpaccio with backed pumpkin, mint and garlic chips, at Antica Pesa, Rome, Italy
Marinated cod fish carpaccio with baked pumpkin, mint and garlic chips, at Antica Pesa, Rome, Italy

With frescoed walls painted by some of today’s most famous artists, Antica Pesa projects a dynamic vibe. That energy is matched by its modern take on traditional dishes and a substantial wine list. It’s no wonder that rock stars and actors frequent this pricey Roman mainstay founded in 1922. The cacio e pepe is a house classic, while its ample wine list boasts nearly 1,100 labels. Ask to visit the award-winning wine cellar.

Imàgo

Located on the sixth floor of the luxurious Hotel Hassler that sits atop the Spanish Steps, lmàgo offers a magnificent view of the city center, including the twin steeples of the Trinità dei Monti Church just feet away. Dining at this Michelin-starred restaurant is sublime, thanks to Francesco Apreda’s interpretations of classic Italian dishes that fuse Asian and Mediterranean influences. It also has a great vegetarian menu. Besides a solid offering of top Italian wines, the substantial list has a fine selection of celebrated French bottlings.

Tagliolini Saracen, with sardines, nori and escarole at Imàgo / Photo by Susan Wright
Tagliolini Saracen, with sardines, nori and escarole at Imàgo / Photo by Susan Wright

Spirito DiVino

A little-known oasis of delicious, wholesome dining in Trastevere, this family-run restaurant is part of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity that supports small local farmers. Chef Eliana Catalani, a former virology researcher, makes everything in-house and sources fresh organic ingredients daily. The wine list focuses on Italy, but also offers selections from around the world. The cavernous wine cellar beneath the restaurant dates back to 80 B.C. Ask Eliana’s son, Francesco, for a look at the 800-plus selections housed there.

Sommelier Rocco Barbarossa in the cellar of Casa Bleve, Rome, Italy / Photo by Susan WrightCasa Bleve

Located in an elegant 16th-century palace and run by husband-and-wife team Anacleto and Tina Bleve, this posh restaurant is a focal point for wine and food lovers in Rome. The Bleves paved the  way for great wine and gourmet food in Rome, starting in the early 1970s with wine bar Bottega del Vino. At Casa Bleve, you can pair carefully selected wines housed in one of the most beautiful cellars in the city with Tina’s delicious dishes like eggplant millefeuille with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella.

Published on March 27, 2017
Topics: Italy
About the Author
Kerin O’Keefe
Italian Editor

Reviews wines from Italy

Italian Editor Kerin O’Keefe reviews all Italian wines for Wine Enthusiast. Previously she wrote regularly on Italian wine for Wine News, World of Fine Wine and Decanter. She is the author of Franco Biondi Santi: The Gentleman of Brunello (2005), Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy's Greatest Wines (2012) and Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine (2014).

Email: kokeefe@wineenthusiast.net.



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