Trastevere Guide: Five of the Best
Across the Tiber River, imagine a labyrinth of cobblestone alleyways peppered with local bakeries, darling little trattorias and friendly waiters vying for your attention and hollering that you’re “beautiful” every five steps you take (I was immensely flattered by this the first time I ever went to Gina’s in Auckland, but I was young and naive)…that’s Trastevere.
It’s a well-worn postcard of a neighbourhood with a bohemian vibe plus a generous side of grunge; there’s graffiti all over the faded pastel facades of the buildings and some of the residences look positively derelict. In the late afternoon, it’s a ghost town and its streets are misleadingly empty. But as the light starts to fade, tourists and locals alike flock in and by 7.30pm almost every restaurant and watering hole is bursting at the seams with revellers.
Here’s my hit list of five of the best foodie finds in this quietly quirky neighbourhood.
PORTA PORTESE FLEA MARKET
If you’re into thrift store shopping, this Sunday morning flea market is a must-do in Trastavere. It’s renowned as one of the most extensivein Rome. You need a whole lot of patience though - it is huge! It’s an eclectic mix of vintage gems and absolute junk, but half the fun is sifting through it all. Pay particular attention to the watch vendors and the stores selling bric-a-brac and decor items. There were some beautiful ormolu pieces and wrought iron wall sconces that were begging me to take them home.
Address: Via Portuense & Ippolito Nievo, Trastevere, Rome
Don’t Miss: The ‘antique’ decor stalls on the Ippolito Nievo side
Price Range: € - €€
I have a history of choosing restaurants that have every appearance of doing a bustling trade, with a long history of serving fantastic food and full to the brim with happy diners...and then the evening we decide to go, they've either gone out of business or closed down for an extended break! (Just ask Ash about the time I got a reservation at a fine-dining Indian restaurant in Auckland for our 7-year anniversary of dating and we turned up dressed to the nines only to find that the restaurant was no longer in business).
Sadly, the restaurant I’d honed in on for dinner, Da Enzo al 29, was on a two week sabbatical when we visited Rome. But happily, we found a hole-in-the-wall bar nearby to grab some quick aperetivo before the main event. It was called The Hole and the barkeep made a mean daiquiri. The background noise levels are just right - there are usually game replays on the TV that are loud enough for you to keep track of what’s happening, but it’s still quiet enough if you want to have a conversation with a friend. It’s a tiny place with cosy seating, the football on TV punctuated with chatter from the small trickle of locals coming in to grab a beer.
Address: Via dei Vascellari, 16, Trastevere, Rome
Phone Number: +39 06 589 4432
Don’t Miss: The daiquiri!
Price Range: €
On our last night in Rome, we happened to be near Trastevere as the sun was setting. It was such a beautiful evening that we decided to grab a drink at one of the many tempting bars along the Tiber River. We wound up at a tiki-lounge styled bar called Lost River, where the fries were served in cones of cheesy, garlicky goodness and the cocktails were nice and strong. I had several Caprioskas which really hit the spot. Great menu, quick table service and seating right by the river…you really can’t go wrong here.
Address: Lungotevere degli Anguillara, Trastevere, Rome
Phone Number: +39 393 464 6344
Don’t Miss: Cheese fries + the Caprioska cocktail
Price Range: €
Cajo e Gajo
Even from a distance we could tell that this place was a winner, because they were serving white wine in plastic cups to patrons who were queued up outside waiting to be seated. I ordered my standard cacio e pepe (delicious!) and finished up with tiramisu that was heaven sent. No exaggeration. Forget ambrosia...I don’t know what the Roman gods and goddesses eat but if I was one of them you bet I’d be scoffing down tiramisu for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ash’s Amatriciana pasta was also a huge hit.
We didn’t order starters at either of our visits to Cajo e Gajo - but we saw our waitress bring out a caprese salad for the neighbouring table the way it was presented was just beautiful!
This was our favourite osteria in Trastevere - it was casual, the food was incredible and the staff were awesome. It’s definitely a place we’re going to revisit!
P. S. Not to brag but our waitress looked like Rihanna.
Address: Piazza San Callisto, 10, Trastevere, Rome
Phone Number: +39 06 581 8256
Don’t Miss: Cacio e pepe + tiramisu (TDF!)
Price Range: €€
DOMINA 2018 @BORGO RIPA
This magical garden bar is hidden away in the Borgo Ripa villa. The garden itself is known as “Giardino delle Delizie” or Garden of Delights, and it’s easy to see why. Prepare to be swept off your feet by the whimsical decor and the chilled ambience; from string lights to cosy couches, this bar has the works. There is a small (but perfectly formed) selection of cocktails on offer, along with an extensive buffet. It’s the perfect spot to indulge in the beloved Roman tradition of aperetivo.
Head here at dusk to bask in the last light and enjoy a cocktail or two in a tranquil setting. Pro tip: If you go with a group you’ll get the best tables!
Address: Lungotevere Ripa, 3, Trastevere, Rome
Phone Number: +39 388 8816897
Don’t Miss: The Ultimatum cocktail + the pizza buffet
Price Range: €€€