For millennia, Rome has been known as the City of Love, and for good reason. There’s no better backdrop than the Eternal City — from its spectacularly frescoed ceilings and its sumptuous evening skies to its dome-filled panoramas — for spending amorous moments with a special someone. However, romance in Rome does not equate to pushy rose sellers, checkered tabled cloths and off-key “Volare” singers. The Italian city has grown up and requires a gentle finesse of beauty, intimacy and gastronomic delight, and there are plenty of cuisine options sure to create a memorable evening for two. Here are our current picks for Rome’s best romantic restaurants.
Everything about Enoteca La Torre is roaring with romance, from its hideaway location in the city’s Vittoria neighborhood and lush Art Nouveau décor to its celebrated menu and intimate dining room. With its original location in Viterbo (in Italy’s Lazio region), Enoteca La Torre recently opened its Rome outpost in June inside Villa Laetitia, the boutique hotel owned and styled by Anna Fendi Venturini (yes, of the famed Fendi family). Order tasty plates such as steak tartare with herb-smoked foie gras and slices of fig or spaghetti with red shrimp, lavender, lemon and ox bone marrow.
Piperno, a historic restaurant in the even more historic Jewish ghetto neighborhood, has served as a popular establishment since it opened in 1860. In essence, it’s classic Rome, from its décor (late 19th-century paintings) to reserved service, but it’s not just what’s on the inside that counts. Reserve a table sulla piazza (on the square). Piperno’s charm lies in its location on a quiet piazza atop a small hill. As you sit outside in the Italian air, order signature dishes such as trippa alla romana (Roman tripe with pecorino cheese) or spaghetti cacio e unto (a unique version of cacio e pepe with grated cheese, pepper and shards of delicate lard).
If there were ever an award for the city’s best view, Aroma would win it, no questions asked. The hotel Palazzo Manfredi’s rooftop restaurant boasts a front row, unobstructed view of the Colosseum. There is nothing quite like watching the sun set behind the roughly 2,000-year-old structure as you nibble antipasti, with the 10 or so other guests dining around you on the terrace. And it’s those gorgeous midnight blues and warm travertine tones of the sky that will melt your heart. The artistic menu shouldn’t be overlooked, either. Start out with options such as mint-flavored roasted scallops on a fennel fondue with fried leeks and continue with main courses such as panzerotti (a pastry pocket filled with fresh herbs, butter and parmesan) or veal fillet with buffalo mozzarella, courgette crust and crunchy ratatouille.
One of Rome’s best-kept secrets is the private terrace of All’Oro, the esteemed restaurant on the ground floor of The First Hotel in Rome’s historic center. If you’re looking to impress, reserve the small terrace that’s located above the hotel’s rooftop terrace — it only seats six and you can order dishes off All’Oro’s menu such as ravioli filled with mascarpone, duck ragout and a red wine reduction or mini hamburgers with squid, zucchini and housemade mayonnaise. Once you’ve finished your meal, head over to the hotel’s rooftop bar, 0 – 300°, for a nightcap. In either spot, you’ll witness unbeatable panoramics of the city.
La Pergola holds a reputation in Rome as the city’s best restaurant, and rightfully so. But the beloved eatery isn’t just famous for executive chef Heinz Beck’s amazing dishes such as deep-fried zucchini flower on shellfish and saffron consommé with caviar or duck liver terrine with smoked apples. La Pergola sits atop the Roma Cavalieri hotel on the hill of Monte Mario, with a killer view overlooking the entire city. However, be warned that this shouldn’t be a spur-of-the-moment romantic evening. Reservations must be made months in advance for the privilege of looking down on Rome. With that in mind, it’s also not well suited for first dates, but special occasions instead.
Photo Courtesy of Enoteca La Torre