Despite its past glory, this area has yet to discover the noble concept of affordable food. But along Via del Fori Imperiali, several restaurants offer decent prices.
Buoni Amici, V. Aleardo Aleardi 4 (06 70 49 19 93). From the Colosseum, take V. Labicana to V. Merulana. Turn right, then left onto V.A. Aleardi. The food is worth the walk. Choices include the linguine all’astice (linguini with lobster sauce; ‚6.50). Cover ‚1. Open M-Sa noon-3pm and 7-ll:30pm. AmExDMCV.
Taverna dei Quaranta, V. Claudia 24 (06 700 05 50), off P.d. Colosseo. Shaded by the trees of Celian Park, outdoor dining at this corner taverna is a must. The menu changes weekly and often features the sinfully good oliva ascolane (olives stuffed with meat and fried; ‚4). Reservations suggested, especially for a table outside. Open daily 12:30-3:30pm and 7:45pm-midnight. AmExDMCV.
Hostaria da Nerone, V.d. Terme di Tito 96 (06 481 79 52). M: B-Colosseo. Take the stairs to the right (with your back to the Colosseum) and walk up to V.N. Salvi. Turn right, and then left onto V.d. Terme di Tito. Outdoor dining near the Colosseum with views of the Baths of Titus. Traditional specialties like tegamino di cervello burro e funghi (brains with butter and mushrooms; ‚8) make up for the tourist crowd. Pasta ‚6. Cover ‚1.30. Open M-Sa noon-3pm and 7-llpm. Closed Aug. AmExMCV.
The twisting streets of Rome’s historic center offer many hidden gems, especially just off the main piazze.
E3 Pizzeria Baffetto, V.d. Governo Vecchio 114 (06 686 16 17). At the intersection of V.d. Governo Vecchio and V. Sora. Once a meeting place for 60s radicals, Baffetto now overflows with hungry Romans-be prepared to wait a long time for an outdoor table. Pizza ‚4.50-7.50. Open daily 8-10am and 6:30pm-lam. Cash only. O Trattoria dal Cav. Gino, V. Rosini 4 (06 678 34 34), off V.d. Campo Marzio across from P. del Parlamente. The very affable Gino will greet you at the door. Tonnarelli alia ciociala (‚7) is the house specialty. Primi ‚6-7. Secondi under ‚20. Reservations accepted. Open M-Sa l-3:30pm and 8-10:30pm. Cash only.
Pizzeria Corallo, V.d. Corallo 10-11 (06 68 30 77 03). Off V.d. Governo Vecchio near P. del Fico. This pizzeria is a great place to grab a cheap, late dinner. Pizzas ‚4-9. Excellent primi pastas ‚5-9. Open daily 6:30pm-lam; off-season, closed M. MCV,
CAMPO DEI FIORI AND THE JEWISH GHETTO
Trattoria da Sergio, V.d. Grotte 27 (06 654 66 69). Take V.d. Giubbonari and your 1st right. Sergio offers Roman ambience and hearty portions. Try the Spaghetti Matriciana (with bacon and spicy tomato sauce; ‚6). Reservations suggested. Open M-Sa 12:30- 3pm and 6:30-11:30pm. MCV. 0 ElZampano’, P.d. Cancelleria 83 (06 689 70 80), between C. V. Emanuele II and the Campo. This hostaria is running out of room for all the awards it has won. Offers creative pizzas (‚7-9) and over 200 wines. Primi ‚7-8. Secondi ‚12-13. Finish with a savory dessert (‚4.50-6). Open daily noon-2:30pm and 7:30-1 lpm. AmExMCV. Trattoria Da Luigi, P.S. Cesarini 24 (06 686 59 46), near Chiesa Nuova. Enjoy cuisine such as the delicate carpaccio di salmone fresco con rughetta (‚8). Bread ‚1. Open Tu- Su noon-3pm and 7pm-midnight. AmExMCV.
Taverna Lucifero, V.d. Cappellari 28 (06 68 80 55 36), off Campo dei Fiori. Pleasant owner knows and greets his guests at the door. The taverna offers homemade pastas, tender fillets, and 400 varieties of red wine. Expect to order a full, Roman dinner (‚25 without drinks). The white truffles are worth the price (‚1-7 per g depending on season). Two seatings: 8:30 and 10:30pm. Call for reservation (2 weeks in advance for Sa). Open Sept.-June daily 8pm-2am.
PIAZZA DI SPAGNA
Although the upscale P.d. Spagna might appear to have little in common with Termini, they both share one thing: Tons of bad, bad food. The difference is that you’ll pay ‚10 more for the atmosphere here. The best food is closer to the Ara Pads, across V.d. Corso, away from the throngs of tourists.
Trattoria da Settimio aN’Arancio, V.d. Arancio 50-52 ( 06 687 61 19). Take V.d. Con- dotti from P.d. Spagna, the 1st right after V.d. Corso, then the 1st left. Order the fried artichokes (‚4.50), although the less inhibited might try the squid’s ink risotto (‚7.50). Bread ‚1. Open M-Sa 12:30-3pm and 7:30-ll:30pm. AmExMCV.
Vini e Buffet, P. Toretta 60 (06 687 14 45). From V.d. Corso, turn into P.S. Lorenzo in Lucina. Take a left on V. Campo Marzio, then a quick right onto V. Toretta. Popular salads are creative and fresh-the insalata con salmone (‚8.50) is delightful. Reservations recommended. Open M-Sa 12:30-3pm and 7-1 lpm.
Brilio Parlante, V. Fontanella 12 (06 324 33 34), near P. del Popolo. The wood-burning oven, fresh ingredients, and excellent wine attract many lunching Italians. Pizza ‚5- 7.75. Open Su and Tu-Sa 12:30-5:30pm and 7:30pm-lam. MCV,
PizzaRe, V. di Ripetta 14 (06 321 14 68). Take V. di Ripetta 1 block away from P. del Popolo. For those looking for a cheap vacation to the south, PizzaRe serves up Neapol- itan-style pizza as well as regional wines and desserts. The PizzaRe, with buffala mozzarella and cherry tomatoes, is a favorite. Branch at V. Oslavia 39a, near P. Mazzini. Open daily 12:45-3:30pm and 7:30pm-12:30am. AmExMCV. O Al Presidente, V. Arcione 95 (?r06 679 73 42). Facing the Trevi Fountain, walk right on V. Lavatore and bear left onto V. Arcione. Fish from the ocean, not from a farm. You can taste the difference in dishes like the toad thighs in seaweed. Try the homemade pasta with truffles. Primi ‚12. Second ‚17. Open Tu-Su 7:30-midnight, Sa-Su noon-3pm. O