Caffè Atelier Canova Tadolini
Says Indagare insider Alberto Moncada, the owner of boutique hotel Margutta 54”: “Museo Atelier Canova Tadolini is a museum and a café all-in-one. For €3 visitors get a cappuccino, a few cookies served on a lace doily and have a chance to walk around and see the plaster casts used by the two expert sculptors, Canova and Tandolini.”
The brain child of the sous chef of acclaimed restaurant La Pergola, Caffè Bernini is bringing some inspiration to the bland food offerings around Piazza Navona. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers typical Roman fare as well as some lighter dishes. It’s also a good spot for coffee and people watching from the al fresco seating area.
The terrace of the Caffarelli Terrace at the Capitoline Museum, is a good spot to know about if you’re touring the Colosseum and are in need of a quiet, calm break for lunch. Separated from the panoramic terrace with sweeping city views by leafy planters, the restaurant serves sandwiches, salads and pasta dishes (it’s decent but you come here for the setting not the food). There is table service until 3 p.m., so you can also come by for a coffee and cake in the early afternoon.
Casa e Bottega Il Bar
A tucked-away jewel near busy Piazza Navona, Casa e Bottega is a wonderful lunch or coffee spot (it’s the more casual and smaller sister of restaurant Casa e Bottega nearby). The teeny dining room, done in pastels and minimalist-chic decor, is usually full with locals from the neighborhood who come for the delicious salads, sandwiches and homemade cakes, as well as frothy caffeinated beverages. For those who need a break from pasta for lunch and who want to get off-the-beaten tourist path, this place is a real find. Best of all, it’s down the streets from Gelateria del Teatro should you have a sweet craving post-lunch.
Says Indagare insider Alberto Moncada, the owner of boutique hotel Margutta 54: “Ciampini is situated on one of the prettiest piazzas in Rome: Piazza San Lorenzo, in Lucina, where retailers Bon Point, Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton and Car Shoe (the Italian brand which invented the driving shoe) all have a home. Don’t miss their divine gelato and tramezzini (Italian sandwiches). My favorite flavors are marrons glace (chestnut), nocciola (hazelnut) and plain chocolate.
Cristalli di Zucchero
A bakery and espresso stop specializing in sweet treats.
Run by the same team as Buvette, this charming restaurant has a local vibe and is open on Sundays, a rarity in Rome. What’s Nearby: Spanish Steps; Hotel de Russie; Babuino 181.
Fior di Luna
This Travastere gelateria doesn’t look like much, but its smooth, creamy gelato may well be the best the city currently has to offer. A sign on the door explains where the ingredients come from (hazelnuts from Sorrento, coco form Madagascar), and flavors are seasonal and truly memorable (the spicy cioccolata pecorino was particularly delicious during a recent trip). There’s nowhere to sit here, but you can take your cone or cup around the corner to the Tiber.
Gelateria del Teatro
Tucked in a back of a cozy courtyard, a short stroll—but seemingly miles away—form bustling Piazza Navona, this lovely gelateria is famous for its many original, artisanal flavors, including some made with red wine, others featuring herbs like sage. It’s a great spot to refuel and also enjoy a stroll down one of the historic center’s prettiest streets: Via di San Simone.
At this wonderfully old-school caffè-cum-gelateria, you first pay for however many scoops you wish, then, armed with a little white receipt, you can order at the delicious homemade gelato. Don’t try it the other way around; you will simply be ignored. Besides a large selection of flavorful, creamy gelato, there are also myriad pastries and cookies on sale. A great place for a break the Pantheon (come here after a lunch at nearby Al Moro)
One of Indagare’s Istanbul insiders considers the Köşebaşı restaurants the best in all of Turkey for kebabs. The original spot opened in 1995 in Levent (15 4 Camlik Sokak; 90 212 270 24 33); the outpost in Nisantisi (5 Bronz Sok., Macka; 90 212 230 38 68) is also recommended.
A favorite of Indagare Insider Soledad Twombly and Alberto Moncada cafe is within walking distance to the Spanish Steps. Says Moncada: “This is the perfect spot to greet the day with a cappuccino and cornetto (Italian croissant). Or if you need a pick-me-up from shopping on nearby Via Condotti try Buvette’s meal-sized salads.
Editor’s note: This is also one of Indagare founder Melissa Biggs Bradley’s favorite places in Rome to eat breakfast or lunch. It is very near the Hotel de Russie and the Spanish steps, just off of via Babuino. While most of the tables are in the basement, the best ones are the few on the street or just inside the door, so you can watch the comings and goings of locals grabbing a quick coffee at the bar. The salads are delicious as are the pastries.
Just off Via Veneto, this café has two floors and a little balcony where you can indulge in modern Italian cuisine and excellent wines by the glass.
Panella l'Arte del Pane
This gorgeous bakery and cafe (Paris’ Ladurée meets Poilâne) is a Roman classic and a great place to start if you are touring the Colosseum, which is a 10- to 15-minute walk from Panella. There are some small tables outside, but I loved sitting on bar stools at high tables inside to watch the bustle and morning madness unfold at the counter where a single brave worker was producing cappuccinos and espresso at breathtaking speeds for the many Romans clamoring for their caffeine fix. There’s an array of morning pastries as well as delicious savory baked goods one can purchase for a snack later in the morning (you won’t find anything remotely as delicious in the touristy neighborhood of the Colosseum).
City Secrets is a series of innovative guidebooks whose contributors, from art historians and professors to novelists and architects, choose their personal “city secrets” to share. Read a Q&A with founding editor Robert Kahn. The following is a pick from City Secrets: Rome by Lawrence Venuti, a translation theorist, historian and an Italian, French and Catalan translator.
The shop offers pizza a taglio, literally “by the cut,” although like other New Yorkers I am inclined to say “by the slice.” Still, I can’t bring myself to translate the phrase into a familiar experience. No pizza joint in New York resembles this Roman place. For one thing, the pizzas are baked in rectangular pans… Another difference is the variety of toppings. You can find the customary margherita, recognizable by sight but unusual in taste, much more savory than the tomato-and-cheese pies back home because of ingredients like mozzarella di bufala, made from water-buffalo milk. The pizza rossa, a thin crust smeared with tomato sauce, is a Roman staple but is virtually impossible to find in New York.
No trip to Rome would be complete without gelato, Italy’s delicious, dense ice cream, and this is where you’ll find the best in town. Never thought you’d be tempted to eat vinegar ice cream? The balsamic gelato, a San Crispino specialty, is a heady mix of heavy cream, sugar and the caramelized sweetness of balsamico, with just a hint of sourness to give it a unique tang. Or try the shop’s other famous flavors, like pink grapefruit and whiskey cream.
Sant Eustachio Caffè
Says Indagare insider Alberto Moncada, the owner of boutique hotel Margutta 54, of this famous Roan cafe: “Sant Eustachio has the best cappuccinos in Rome and is located just off the Piazza Navona. Plus nearby is a church called San Luigi dei Francesi with an amazing Caravaggio painting.”
This café, located in a concept store, i.e., an über-hip mini department store, has an outdoor courtyard that’s ideal for lunch or coffee and a snack. You’ll be browsing on your way in and out; few people leave without finding something they must buy.