1SANTO PADRE This completely unpretentious trattoria is the secret canteen for Rome’s A-list, from soccer stars to politicians. Antipasti are waiting before you even sit down—heaping plates of beautifully ripe sliced tomatoes, light creamy meatballs, chunks of the freshest mozzarella—and waiters lead you through the tireless litany of classic Roman pasta dishes like cacio e pepe, carbonara, and amatriciana, without any menus (18 Via Collina; 39-06-474-5405).
2SETTEMBRINI Located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Prati, this intimate restaurant has one of the city’s most interesting and well-selected wine lists, not to mention dishes like just-caught dentice (a Mediterranean white fish) with tomato and mozzarella, and handmade gnocchi with sausage. The spot is open throughout the day, but it’s best at dinner (choose a cozy corner table), when you can imbibe from a huge selection of wines, all for less than 100 euros (27 Via Settembrini; 39-06-323-2617).
3FELICE A TESTACCIO If you like a good plate of tonnarelli cacio e pepe(and really, how many people can turn down a plate of pasta in a buttery pecorino romano cheese sauce with cracked black pepper?), this spot has the best version in a city that excels at the dish—not surprising when you consider that the same family has been making it here since 1936. End your meal with a creamy tiramisu served in a glass (29 Via Mastro Giorgio; 39-06-574-6800).
4ARCO ANTICO This elegant and more formal restaurant is a departure from the typical old-fashioned trattorias Romans favor. But its trio of warm owners (one of them, Patrizia Mattei, is among the city’s best chefs) keep it from being pretentious. The menu changes according to the season, but staples like suckling pig and tonnarelli with bottarga (gray mullet roe) create lifelong devotees. For a date night or a special-occasion meal, this is spot to choose, but book well in advance (7 Piazzale Aurelio; 39-06-581-5274).
5LA GATTA MANGIANA Pizza may come from Naples, but Romans are also obsessed with a good pie. La Gatta Mangiona (The Greedy Cat) is the locals’ current favorite for its mix of traditional options alongside more unconventional creations, like one that’s topped with smoked mackerel and edible flowers. Pizzaiolo Giancarlo Casa takes the art of pizza making very seriously, using special flours and longer fermentation times to ensure the perfect balance between light and crunchy (30-32 Via Federico Ozanam; 39-06-534- 6702).