I’m here in Rome, camping out between bike trips. While looking up wine bars, I happened across an entry in Hungry Girl, where she runs into Mario Batali and he tells her “I only eat at wine bars in Rome. That’s where the best food is.” So I decided to put my list of bars up against Mario’s. The research has been exhausting! In checking them out, I found some new favorites, found that some of my old faves had gone downhill, and verified that the tried-and-true great wine bars of Rome are NOT resting on their laurels! For this “best of” list assume fabulous wine selections and good food … wine bars with sh**y selections didn’t make the list. Each address below is linked to the google map.
Cul de Sac – This has always been my favorite. Why? Walls lined with bottles, outdoor seating, always crowded, perfect location, great array of cheeses and meats, darn good food, too. Along a cute sidestreet close to the Piazza Navona. Piazza di Pasquino, 73
Il Simposio di Constantini – Classy place connected to a very good restaurant. I was sitting at the bar, enjoying a glass of Pinot Nero and the free hors d’oeuvres, and I met a group of ex-pat journalists, which led to two more glasses of wine, which led to …
… a party a couple of nights later, which led to more new friends, which led … you just gotta love Rome. Close to Castello Angelo. Piazza Cavour, 16
Enoteca Ferrara – I can’t totally like this, as it’s the favorite of my ex-hubby, but with 24 wines by the glass and a cruvinet, there is always something interesting to try. Free antipasto served all night. The seating in the front room is kind of cramped in a weird layout and doesn’t lend to a good “da solo” experience, so bring a friend. In a student-y area of Trastevere. Via del Moro, 1/a
Trimani – Great food and atmosphere, and open for both lunch and dinner. Call for reservations, so you don’t get stuck sitting upstairs in Siberia which has next-to-no atmosphere (but good for large parties). Close to the train station. Via Cernaia 37B
313 Cavour One of the largest selections in Rome, and an extensive menu, too. Unlike some Roman wine bars (can you say “Trimani”?), the service is very friendly. But always call beforehand because they are often closed for no apparent reason. (No posted hours). On a traffic-heavy street close to the Coliseum. Via Cavour 313
Roscioli –Incredible cheese and salami case out in the front. Not a lot of food options, but the pasta is truly the best I have ever had in Rome. Great music, great service. Jewish Quarter. Via dei Giubbonari, 21
Il Goccetto – Old, old old school. Lots of Italian wine biz guys hang out here. Some of them look like they’ve been around since the days of Mussolini! The walls are lined with bottles, so go to it and find something great. Little rickety wood tables … place looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in 20 years. But good prices, and what a selection! Via dei Banchi Vecchi 14
These ones didn’t make the list. If you are only in Rome for a couple of days, these won’t give you the full Roman wine bar experience, but if you are hanging out for awhile, there are still reasons to try these out.
Enoteca Piccolo – small selection, but other than Cul de Sac and Il Simposio, the only other one with outdoor seating.
‘Gusto– Huge, modern interior. ‘Gusto is a pizzeria, restaurant, grocer AND wine bar. Nothing about this place feels Roman to me.
Casa Bleve – In a 15th Century building off of Piazza Navonna. Very elegant, but very expensive.
Palatium – Specializing in the not-that-great-but-interesting wines of the area (Lazio). This is an excellent place for lunch as it serves very authentic Roman cuisine. Always hopping with locals. By the Spanish Steps.
Hint: At many places you can reserve a table! It’s such a drag to enter a fun, crowded bar and find out there are no available tables. But a little-known secret is that many of these places will take reservations. Numerous times we got dirty looks from people who had been waiting a long time but because we called ahead, we got seated right away.