Updated November 2021
During the lockdown, I often daydreamed of going out to dinner in Rome again. I thought of of forkfuls of cacio e pepe, of ruby-red wine being poured into my glass, the tickle of acqua frizzante, dense bites of tiramisù, and the bitter taste of a caffè macchiato.
When they announced that restaurants would be reopening, I decided to make a list of all the places I wanted to go when we were able to move freely again. Every week since the reopening, my sweetheart and I have tried (at least) one new restaurant and one new spot for aperitivo.
Needless to say, these have been some very happy weeks, because we’ve had some awesome food and have found some new places to love, but mostly because we’ve been enjoying Rome in a way we weren’t before the lockdown. We had fallen into a routine of working and coming straight home, rather than going out and enjoying the city.
The lockdown was a bit of a kick in the tush for me, because it made me realize that I was living in Rome, but I wasn’t actually living in Rome. Now, I’m living again, and I’m living for all of it.
We started our quest to tackle my extensive restaurant wish list at Armando al Pantheon, a well-known restaurant in the heart of the city center that serves up classic Roman cuisine.
I loved it and would definitely recommend it as a place to go if you’re looking for a great meal in the city center.
Since originally writing this post, I have been back to Armando, and I have loved it each time.
Read on for all the details!
Armando al Pantheon – classic Roman food in the heart of the city center
Opening hours and booking details
Salita de’ Crescenzi 31 – 12:30 – 3pm; 7pm – 11pm daily (closed Sundays for dinner)
Bookings are highly recommended, owing to the popularity of the restaurant. Call + 39 06 6880 3034, or book online with resdiary.
In the spring of 2021, Armando added a few outdoor tables. You have to call to request them.
The history of Armando al Pantheon
The restaurant was opened in 1961 by Armando Gargioli, and it quickly became popular thanks to his excellent cooking.
In the kitchen today, you’ll find Armando’s two sons. One of his granddaughters is the sommelier, and his grandson handles orders and reservations. It’s truly a family-run place.
The service at Armando al Pantheon
As I mentioned above, we booked a few days in advance. I didn’t know what to expect, as it was our first restaurant outing post-lockdown.
We arrived on time and very hungry and were promptly seated at a table that kept us two meters apart. It was kind of like sitting at the “Be Our Guest” table, but hey, I’ll do what I need to do to
get pasta help people stay safe and COVID free.
Note that the tables have returned to normal since I first wrote this post!
The menus, as many of them are now, are available on your phone by scanning a QR code. The servers were delightful.
The food at Armando al Pantheon
Pasta alla Gricia
According to Taste Atlas, Armando al Pantheon has the number one Pasta alla Gricia in the world. It’s recommended by several food critics. I knew I had to try it.
For those of you who might not know, Pasta alla Gricia is part of Rome’s pasta quadfecta, and consists of fried guanciale, pecorino romano, and black pepper.
Armando’s version was certainly one of the very best I’ve had. The cheesy sauce was silky smooth and it wasn’t too salty. I ate every last bite.
Fettuccine con le regaje di pollo
Where do I begin? I have yet to write about my undying love for pasta with chicken giblets tossed in tomato sauce, or in Roman, pasta con le regaje di pollo (rigaglie in Italian). I love chicken giblets in any form, actually, but I digress.
Occasionally appearing as a special at Flavio al Velavevodetto and other restaurants, Armando has this dish on their regular menu, which brings me a great deal of joy. I tried it the second time I went, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to order anything besides the firm, fresh fettuccine coated with tomato sauce, dotted with rich, creamy gibbies. It is my personal pasta heaven.
Saltimbocca alla Romana
This is another standout at Armando according to Taste Atlas. My sweetheart ordered it, and I’m so glad he did.
Saltimbocca alla Romana is veal topped with prosciutto and sage leaves that’s fried in butter and doused with white wine.
I whined until he shared it with me my sweetheart let me taste his meal. I loved how tender and thin the meat was and the tang of the white wine.
Sometimes, I order what I like to think of as a “guilt-mitigating contorno,” or a veggie side dish that I only get because I feel bad for not having vegetables at every meal.
We ordered some cicoria ripassata because Jeremy could eat it every day. We both loved it. It wasn’t overdone, as cicoria sometimes is.
We had already had a
bottle glass of wine before we arrived, so we decided to take it easy. I don’t remember what kind of wine we got, but it was a half bottle, which was the perfect amount.
Armando has expanded their offerings of natural wines, too.
A bit more expensive than the average restaurant in Rome, but it’s in the city center and they serve high-quality food, so it’s worth the splurge. We usually save it for date nights and special occasions.
Why you should eat at Armando al Pantheon
In addition to the stellar food, I recommend eating there because it’s nice, but not pretentious, the staff was lovely, and it’s in a part of the city where you can get a bad, expensive meal if you’re not careful (here’s my post on how to avoid tourist traps).
Check out my other Rome posts and guides
Here’s my self-guided walking tour of Rome, with a free map included.
Interested in something more non-traditional? Here’s my guide to Rome off the beaten path.