Located south of the Aventine Hill right along the river Tiber, Testaccio’s recent gentrification has seen this working-class Rome rione earn serious street cred for it’s straight-up style and creation of traditional roman cuisine: cucina romana. Such claim to one of the city’s greatest attractions is no small thing and this original foodie neighborhood has begun to attract attention from locals and tourists in-the-know, the district boasting many of Rome’s greatest restaurants and sought after dishes. So ditch the diet and dig out those maternity pants as this is the side of Rome you need to make room for.
A combined bar/pizzeria/restaurant, Porto Fluviale is certainly no run-of-the-mill Roman restaurant. Lively and welcoming with waiters as good-looking as they are friendly, this is how modern, local Romans eats with a menu and atmosphere that really puts the local trattorias and the typical routine menus on the back-foot. Portions aren’t huge but prices are reasonable and the free servings of delicious freshly-baked bread, olives and crisps (all made and marinaded on-site) able to pass as a pretty impressive meal on their own. We actually came here three times during our short stay and each time it didn’t disappoint. The spaghetti carbonara was the best we found and the option to have half-portions frees you up to enjoy the range of pasta, meat, salad and tapas-style dish they seem to do so unfailingly well.
Volpetti Deli Shop
In 1973, the Volpetti brothers set up shop in Via Marmorata and today this fine foods store is well-known for its selection of speciality wines, fresh truffles, cheese, salami and hand-made pastas. It’s certainly not cheap but there’s free tasters aplenty, and when food is this good it really is worth paying for – they can even vacuum-pack products for flying home with. Open Monday to Saturday from 8am-2pm, 5pm-8.15pm.
Founded in 1936 by Felice Trivelloni, Da Felice a Testaccio is the epitome of traditional Roman cuisine with a menu that abides by the historic custom of a different traditional dish for every day of the week. It’s grouchy and unpredictable, the menu in no way a reflection of what’s actually on offer (leave it to your waiter to tell you what you’re having) but this is all part of the charm. Prices aren’t cheap but portions are huge and while the restaurant may be famous for its Cacio e Pepe pasta, our second courses of veal with mash and the house speciality, abbacchio al forno con le patate (roast lamb with potatoes) were plenty filling and indescribably delicious. Even the vegetables excelled: fat globe artichokes bursting with flavour when cooked ‘roman style’ in simple olive oil, lemon and salt. The wine menu is more daunting than it needs be, and if you ask for a glass of the house red/white you’ll receive a trough of the good stuff for just €4. Just remember to book ahead as this place gets busy and reservations need normally be made three days before.
With 27 stores in the world, Eataly may not be a one-off but it’s difficult to resist the four-floors of high quality Italian food that fill the glass-domed Air Terminal next to Rome’s Ostiense railway. Bringing artisan Italian food to Rome may seem a little futile, but the sheer convenience of so much good food in one place is undeniably appealing (albeit expensive) and their motto “Life is too short for drinking and eating in a bad way” is a valuable piece of advice for any visitor to Testaccio, or Italy as a whole.