No guide to the best pasta in Rome would be complete without cacio e pepe, pictured here. A nest of spaghetti tossed with pecorino romano cheese and black pepper sits on a white plate.

The ultimate guide to the best pasta in Rome

THe ultimate guide to the best pasta in Rome

The cuisine of every region of Italy is unique, so I’ve written up this ultimate guide to pasta in Rome so that you can enjoy the best and most authentic dishes that the Eternal City has to offer. 

Everyone’s got their favorite spots for pasta in Rome, particularly for the core four (more on those below), so I’ve also included tips on where to try these dishes based on my personal favorites. Where possible, I’ve also noted other places that I haven’t tried personally, but that come highly recommended by food writers and local friends.

Let’s jump right in with the most common types of pasta in Rome, which you’ll find at just about every ristorante and trattoria in the city.

Buon appetito!

The core four Roman pastas

It’s hard to say what the best pasta in Rome is, because there are four traditional types that are ubiquitous, and each has its own large fanbase. Our ultimate guide to pasta in Rome starts with these.

You’ll see that many of the restaurants recommended for the core four are repeated throughout this post. That’s because some make all four pasta dishes extremely well!

Cacio e pepe

Cacio e pepe is the simplest of the Roman pastas. Generally made with spaghetti or fresh tonnarellithe sauce consists of a mixture of pecorino romano cheese and black pepper, plus some salty, starchy pasta water.  

I’ve noticed that cacio e pepe is enjoying a little moment in the sun in the US right now. When I was in Boston a few years ago, I saw cacio e pepe fries and cacio e pepe pizza. The pizza thing, maybe. The fries. Stop. Stop, America, before you ruin it, like you’ve ruined truffles by putting them on EVERYTHING.

I’m mentally preparing myself for seeing cacio e pepe dipping sauce at Pizza Hut the next time I’m in the States. Please, stop it now, before it’s too late and I have to defenestrate myself. Pizza Huts don’t even have a second floor, so it would be a slow and painful way to go.

Some places do a mega-cheesy-creamy cacio e pepe, and others do it with less sauce. I prefer the drier ones.

The best cacio e pepe in Rome

Flavio al Velavevodetto – Via di Monte Testaccio 97 – +39 06 574 4194

Widely known for its Roman classics, this Testaccio institution does them all right.

da Oio a Casa Mia – Via Galvani 43 – +39 06 578 2680

Just around the corner from Flavio al Velavevodetto is another great spot for cacio e pepe (and meatballs, and chicken cacciatore, and carbonara…)

Emma Pizzeria – Via di Monte della Farina – +39 06 64760475

I love the cacio e pepe at Emma, but the Amatriciana and Carbonara are also stellar.

Roma Sparita – Piazza di Santa Cecilia 24 – +39 06 580 0757

Looking for the cacio e pepe in a crispy cheese bowl that Anthony Bourdain rhapsodized over in 2010? This is it.

Felice a Testaccio – Via Mastro Giorgio 29 – +39 06 574 6800

Want a sideshow with your cacio e pepe? At Felice, they mix it up for you at the table! 

I also found out recently from a friend that Felice makes gluten-free cacio e pepe, so even if you have an allergy or intolerance, you can still enjoy it on your trip to Rome!

Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21 – +06 687 5287

Be sure to book a table at this extremely popular spot that is known for many excellent dishes, among them its cacio e pepe.

The best Cacio e pepe with a twist

Trattoria da Cesare a Casaletto – Via del Casaletto 45 – +39 06 536015

Take the tram 8 all the way to the end of the line in Monteverde for Cesare’s fried gnocchi cacio e pepe. They’re well worth the trip!

No guide to the best pasta in Rome would be complete without cacio e pepe, pictured here. A nest of spaghetti tossed with pecorino romano cheese and black pepper sits on a white plate.
My favorite of the core four – cacio e pepe

Pasta alla gricia

The origins of this dish lie in Grisciano, a small town in Lazio.

Like cacio e pepe, pasta alla gricia also contains pecorino romano and black pepper, but what separates it from its more simple cousin is the fact that it contains crispy fried guanciale, or pork jowl/cheek.

Guanciale is special because of its fat, which I have seen referred to as grasso pregiato. Pregiato translates to valuable, fine, or esteemed in English.

The esteemed fat of the guanciale melts into the pecorino romano, and this happiest of marriages coats the pasta, which is flecked with the spicy black pepper and small bits of salty meat.

Gricia isn’t quite as ubiquitous as cacio e pepe, amatriciana or carbonara, but there are some places that make it reeeeeal good.

The best pasta alla gricia in Rome

Armando al Pantheon – Salita de’ Crescenzi 31 – +39 06 6880 3034

Armando is in my top five restaurants in Rome, easily. I love everything I’ve ever had there, including their superlative gricia.

Perilli a Testaccio – Via Marmorata 39 – +39 06 575 5100

Bow-tied waiters serve up a great gricia in this classic Roman trattoria in Testaccio, which has been open since 1911.

Osteria Bonelli – Via dell’Acquedotto Alessandrino 172/174 – +39 329 863 3077

Recommended via Taste Atlas by Elizabeth Minchilli and others.

This article from National Geographic, written by a Testaccio local, recommends the gricia at:

Flavio al Velavevodetto – Via di Monte Testaccio 97 – +39 06 574 4194

da Bucatino – Via Luca della Robbia 84 – +39 06 574 6886

Lo Scopettaro – Lungotevere Testaccio 7 – +39 06 575 7912

The best gricia with a twist

Osteria Fratelli Mori – Via dei Conciatori 10 – +39 331 323 4399

Just off Via Ostiense, Osteria Fratelli Mori makes a delicious gricia with artichokes when they’re in season. 

fettuccine alla gricia con carciofi at osteria dei fratelli mori in Rome, italy
Fratelli Mori’s stellar gricia con carciofi

Amatriciana

Amatriciana (sometimes also written as ‘Matriciana) comes from another small town in Lazio called Amatrice.

Amatriciana also contains guanciale and pecorino, but it’s got a twist: tomato. 

Traditionally, amatriciana is served with bucatini, which are long, like spaghetti, but tubular. The sauce fills the narrow hole that runs the length of the pasta, so you get more sauce in every bite.

It’s also frequently served with short pasta, which I like too. The important thing is that the pasta is coated inside and out in that tangy Amatriciana goodness.

The best amatriciana in Rome

da Bucatino – Via Luca della Robbia 84 – +39 06 574 6886

Another Testaccio classic, where you get a souvenir bib with your Amatriciana to keep your clothes clean as you slurp down every bite.

Osteria Fernanda – Via Crescenzo del Monte 18 – +39 328 384 7924

A friend who is a die-hard amatriciana fan and an excellent cook herself recommended Osteria Fernanda’s as her favorite. I haven’t had it yet, but if she likes it, it must be great!

Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21 – +06 687 5287

Recommended via TasteAtlas by Deb Perelman and others.

Armando al Pantheon – Salita de’ Crescenzi 31 – +39 06 6880 3034

Recommended via TasteAtlas by Luciano Pignataro and others.

da Enzo al 29 – Via dei Vascellari 29 – +39 06 581 2260

Recommended via TasteAtlas by Elizabeth Minchilli and others.

The best amatriciana with a twist

Trattoria Vecchia Roma – Via Ferruccio – 12b/c – +39 06 446 7143

Located in the Esquilino neighborhood, the amatriciana at Vecchio Roma is flambéd in a wheel of pecorino.

L’arcangelo – Via Giuseppe Gioachino Belli 59 – +06 321 0992

Trattoria Sora Lella – Via di Ponte Quattro Capi 16 (Isola Tiberina) – +39 06 686 1601

Both L’arcangelo and Sora Lella serve amatriciana with gnocchi instead of bucatini or another tubular pasta.

Carbonara

Carbonara is in the news here in Italy more than one might think is strictly necessary for a pasta dish. This is because there are many versions of carbonara around the world and Italy doesn’t like any of them, but she certainly likes to rip them a new one on TV and social media.

They say: NO to cream, NO to peas, NO to mushrooms, niente of this.

They say: SI to guanciale, SI to pecorino, SI to black pepper, and SI to eggs, e basta!

There are a few techniques for making a creamy carbonara. The first is to rely on the hot pasta, the rendered fat of the guanciale, and a few ladles full of pasta water to melt the cheese and eggs into a smooth, silky sauce. The second is to get a head start and heat the egg and cheese mixture in a bain-marie.

Check out this video to watch how carbonara is made by Sarah Cicolini, chef at Santo Palato (one of my other top restaurants in Rome).

The best carbonara in Rome

Trattoria Popolare L’avvolgibile – Circonvallazione Appia 56 – +39 06 5069 5104

Tucked away in a residential area, L’avvolgibile is Slow Food certified and was named one of the best trattorie in Italy in 2021.

Trecca – Cucina di Mercato – Via Alessandro Severo 220 – +39 06 8865 0867

I only stole a few bites of Jeremy’s carbonara the first time we went to Trecca, but I regretted not ordering a whole plate of it for myself. 

Lo Scopettaro – Lungotevere Testaccio 7 – +39 06 575 7912

This place is so Roman that it actually smells like pecorino when you walk in the door. 

Santo Palato – Piazza Tarquinia 4 a/b – +39 06 7720 7354

As I mentioned above, this is one of my favorite spots in Rome. The carbonara is excellent, and everything else I’ve ever had there has been too!

Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21 – +06 687 5287

Roscioli’s carbonara is considered by many to be the best in Rome – you be the judge!

Flavio al Velavevodetto – Via di Monte Testaccio 97 – +39 06 574 4194

Like I said above, Flavio does Roman just right.

da Enzo al 29 – Via dei Vascellari 29 – +39 06 581 2260

Recommended via TasteAtlas by Maria Pasquale and others. And me.

Perilli a Testaccio – Via Marmorata 39 – +39 06 575 5100

Recommended via TasteAtlas by Elizabeth Minchilli and others.

The best carbonara with a twist

La Pergola – Via Alberto Cadlolo 101 – +39 06 3509 2152

Although I’ve never been lucky enough to try them, chef Heinz Beck makes fagotelli alla carbonara that are supposedly to die for at his three-Michelin starred restaurant, La Pergola.

rigatoni alla carbonara at da Enzo al 29 in Trastevere, Rome
Enzo’s excellent carbonara

Pasta alla zozzona

This pasta dish is a combination of carbonara, amatriciana, and cacio e pepe (and I guess, technically also gricia, since all the ingredients are covered). A few recipes also call for onion and peperoncino.

“Zozzo” is the Romanization of “sozzo,” meaning “dirty,” so the name acknowledges that this dish is a kind of messy mix of Roman pastas.

Recently featured on New York Times Cooking, pasta alla zozzona is credited as being Roman in origin, but what the post doesn’t mention is that it’s extremely uncommon on menus in the Eternal City. I myself have never seen or had it, but I did some searching and it appears to be served at the restaurant below.  

Where to find pasta alla zozzona in Rome

Even TasteAtlas has no recommendations for pasta alla zozzona! You can try it here:

Osteria Pucci – Piazza Mastai – +39 06 581 9870

If you know of a place that serves it, please reach out in the comments – I’d love to try it!

Bonus note on Roman pasta: giovedì gnocchi

On Thursdays all over the Eternal City, restaurants serve gnocchi. It’s a tradition that’s been traced back to Trastevere, through a saying that comes from a poem written by an anonymous author: giovedì gnocchi, venerdì pesce, sabato trippa, or Thursday gnocchi, Friday fish, Saturday tripe.

The idea comes from the Catholic tradition of fasting or abstaining from eating meat on Fridays. On Thursdays, people needed something heavy to prepare them to go without the following day, so gnocchi it was. 

Saturday, meat was sliced for Sunday lunch, but the poorer classes couldn’t afford the best cuts, so they had to make do with the offal (and make do they did – more on that below!). Hence, “Saturday tripe”.

In case you’re curious, the rest of the poem instructs: lunedì coda, martedì fagioli con le cotiche, mercoledì stufato, e domenica supplì di riso, or Monday oxtail, Tuesday pork rind and beans, Wednesday stew, and Sunday fried rice balls.

Best places to eat gnocchi in Rome

These are mentioned above for gnocchi all’amatriciana:

L’arcangelo – Via Giuseppe Gioachino Belli 59 – +06 321 0992

Trattoria Sora Lella – Via di Ponte Quattro Capi 16 (Isola Tiberina) – +39 06 686 1601

And the fried gnocchi cacio e pepe at Cesare (also mentioned above) I’ve actually had, and they’re delicious!

Trattoria da Cesare a Casaletto – Via del Casaletto 45 – +39 06 536015

Do you have a favorite place for gnocchi in Rome? Share it in the comments below!

OTHER ROMAN PASTAS

Penne all’arrabbiata

Before writing this post, I didn’t know that arrabbiata had its origins in Rome/Lazio, but according to both TasteAtlas and the Academia Italiana della Cucina (the Italian Academy of Cuisine), this spicy pasta dish is indeed attributed to this area of Italy.

The sauce is, like the other dishes we’ve covered, very simple. The typical ingredients are: tomato, garlic, peperoncino, and parsley or basil, so it’s a good option for vegetarians.

The best arrabbiata in Rome

I don’t have any personal tips for this one, but on TasteAtlas, it’s recommended at:

Giggetto – Via del Portico d’Ottavia 21/a – +39 06 686 1105

da Enzo al 29 – Via dei Vascellari 29 – +39 06 581 2260

Spaghetti aglio, olio e peperoncino

According to various sources, spaghetti aglio, olio peperoncino, or spaghetti with garlic, oil and chili, is a Neapolitan dish. Some state simply that it’s from “southern Italy”.

I was curious, so I went back to the Italian Academy of Cuisine, which says that there are two versions: one from Rome that doesn’t have parsley, and one from Naples that does.

Like arrabbiata, it’s not on every menu, but you will find spaghetti aglio, olio, peperoncino at a few restaurants in the Eternal City. It’s a great option for vegetarians, too!

The best aglio, olio e peperoncino in Rome

This is another one that I don’t order out too much, because it’s so simple to make at home, the dish comes highly recommended on TasteAtlas at:

Armando al Pantheon – Salita de’ Crescenzi 31 – +39 06 6880 3034

The best aglio, olio e peperoncino with a twist

Emma Pizzeria – Via di Monte della Farina – +39 06 64760475

Emma makes this classic with bottarga, or salted, cured fish roe. If you like it and are looking to indulge, give it a try.

Spaghetti burro e alici

Ok, so this one, simply made with butter and anchovies, might not actually be Roman in origin. I can’t seem to trace it back to any one region in particular, despite my best efforts.

I’m including it here because there are a few places in Rome that are said to make it very well, and it’s a good option for pescatarians who are sick of being bombarded with pork jowl. 

The best spaghetti burro e alici in Rome

Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21 – +06 687 5287

According to this article (in Italian), there are two other great places to try it, each with its own unique take:

Secondo Tradizione – Via Rialto 39 – +39 06 3973 4757

Lemon and fennel set this version of spaghetti burro e alici apart.

Bistrot 64 – Via Guglielmo Calderini 64 – +39 06 323 5531

Prepared by Kotaro Noda, a Japanese chef who is a lover of Italian cuisine, this spaghetti burro e alici is different from the rest, because Noda originally developed the recipe by making the pasta out of potato for a friend who can’t eat gluten.

Pasta con cozze e pecorino

Here’s another one for lovers of seafood: pasta with mussels and pecorino cheese. Yes, that’s right, the “no cheese on pasta with seafood” rule can sometimes be broken (but not if you want parmigiano).

This dish is attributed to both central and southern Italy, but as this article points out, it’s likely from Lazio because it’s essentially cacio e pepe with mussels in it.

The best pasta con cozze e pecorino in Rome

This one I’ll have to research – if you have a favorite place for pasta con cozze e pecorino in Rome, share it in the comments!

Fettuccine Alfredo

Yes, you read that right. Fettuccine Alfredo exists in Italy. That said, it’s not the dish you’re thinking of. The original Fettuccine Alfredo is simple fettuccine with butter and parmigiano.

Where to eat fettuccine Alfredo in Rome

There are exactly two places to get this dish:

Alfredo alla Scrofa – Via della Scrofa 104/a – +39 06 6880 6163

Il Vero Alfredo – Piazza Augusto Imperatore 30 – +39 06 687 8615

Gnocchi alla Romana

Gnocchi alla Romana differ from traditional Italian gnocchi in that they are not made with potatoes, but with semolina.

The semolina is mixed with milk, butter, egg yolks and parmigiano. This mixture is spread out and baked, then rounds are cut out of it. The rounds are topped with melted butter and more cheese, and then baked again. Drooling yet? 

There’s a bit of controversy as to whether or not these are actually Roman in origin, but I thought you might like to try them, so I included them in my list of the best Roman pastas!

The best gnocchi alla Romana in Rome

I don’t have any person tips for this one, but gnocchi alla Romana are recommended on TasteAtlas at:

La Matricianella – Via del Leone 4 – +39 06 683 2100

Nonna Betta – Via del Portico d’Ottavia 16 – +39 06 6880 6263

Want to make them at home for yourself? Try out my friend Francesca’s recipe for gnocchi alla Romana!

The best Pasta in rome: offal edition

Rome has a rich tradition of dishes made with offal, known in Italian as the “quinto quarto,” or fifth quarter. Offal earned this name because of the way cuts of beef were historically divided among various classes of society.

The first “quarter” of the animal went to the aristocracy, the second to the clergy, the third to the wealthy middle class, and the fourth went to the military. When all these cuts were gone, the least favorable ones were left, so that’s what went to the poorest people.

Lots of people get creeped out by eating guts. I get it – the flavor of offal may take some getting used to, and some people might just have a mental block about eating their rigatoni with a side of intestines or popping a fried chunk of brain into their mouth.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try one of these pasta dishes the next time you’re in Rome! I’ve listed them here in order of agreeability (at least in my book). 

Sugo di coda

Sugo di coda is a tomato-based sauce made with oxtail and a soffritto of carrot, celery and onion, as well as white wine and seasonings. 

This is a great dish to try if you’re interested in trying an authentic Roman pasta dish that’s outside of the core four, but you aren’t quite into the idea of eating innards (uhh, more on that below). 

The best sugo di coda in Rome

Checchino dal 1887 – Via di Monte Testaccio 30 – +39 333 585 5055

No contest. If you have a favorite place, share it in the comments! I’d love to see how it stands up to Checchino’s.

Fettuccine con le rigaglie di pollo

I cannot believe that more people don’t know and love this dish. It is my favorite Roman pasta dish (but I still love you very much, cacio e pepe). 

Fettuccine con le rigaglie (rigaje in Roman dialect) di pollo is fettuccine with tomato sauce and chicken giblets. 

I love this pasta for two reasons: one, I love chicken giblets, and two I LOVE CHICKEN GIBLETS.

You should try this dish if:

-you want to be my friend

-you like liver (I find that the flavor of the gibbies is similar)

The best fettuccine con le rigaglie di pollo in Rome

Armando al Pantheon – Salita de’ Crescenzi 31 – +39 06 6880 3034

My go-to spot for fettuccine con le rigaje di pollo.

fettuccine with chicken giblets at armando al pantheon in rome, italy
Not the most photogenic, but the most delicious

Rigatoni con la pajata

Not for the faint of heart, rigatoni con la pajata is a Roman pasta dish made with rigatoni and knots of calf intestine that are simmered with tomatoes and other veggies. 

A very specific kind of calf is required to make pajata: one that has never been fed anything but milk. The intestines are cleaned, of course, but the chyme, which is a partially digested mixture of food, stomach acids, and other enzymes, is left in.

When you slice into the intestine, the cooked chyme seeps out, giving the sauce a creamy consistency, almost as if you had added a dollop of ricotta.

Yes, lots of people make jokes about rigatoni con la pajata being “pasta with shit sauce,” but I say try it. I was extreeeeeeemely skeptical, and I had to psych myself up before taking my first bite, but once I got past the mental block of what I was eating, I found it to be delicious.

Perhaps the saying should be “Eat shit and die…happy.”

The best rigatoni con la pajata in Rome

Recommended by foodies on TasteAtlas at:

Checchino dal 1887 – Via di Monte Testaccio 30 – +39 333 585 5055

Agustarello a Testaccio – Via Giovanni Branca 100 – +39 06 574 6585

Perilli a Testaccio – Via Marmorata 39 – +39 06 575 5100

da Bucatino – Via Luca della Robbia 84 – +39 06 574 6886

Trattoria da Cesare a Casaletto – Via del Casaletto 45 – +39 06 536015

Armando al Pantheon – Salita de’ Crescenzi 31 – +39 06 6880 3034

Nonna Betta – Via del Portico d’Ottavia 16 – +39 06 6880 6263

Want more of the best pasta in Rome? Check out my other faves

La Tavernaccia da Bruno – Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese 63 – +39 06 581 2792

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: they make their lasagna in a wood-fired oven. Get it and thank me later.

Colline Emiliane – Via degli Avignonesi 22 – +39 06 481 7538

Craving something besides Roman food? Colleen Emiliane serves up the best of Emilian cuisine. Think tagliatelle alla bolognese, tortellini in brodo, etc.

Tram Tram – Via dei Reti – +39 06 490416

Start with the fried anchovies and move onto any one of their delicious pastas. I’m partial to the pappardelle Tram Tram (wide ribbons of pasta with a tomato, bell pepper and ground lamb ragù).

Hosteria Grappolo d’Oro – Piazza della Cancelleria 80 – +39 06 689 7080

Hosteria Grappolo d’Oro is located a stone’s throw from Campo de’ Fiori. They make a deliciously delicate carbonara and their fettuccine with ragù (the type of meat changes) is to die for.

Trattoria Pennestri – Via Giovanni da Empoli 5 – +39 06 574 2418

Trattoria Pennestri serves some of the best pasta I’ve tasted in recent memory –  the cannelloni filled with ragù di cinghiale (wild boar) and sweet and savory pumpkin gnocchi were both amazing. They also have excellent quinto quarto dishes.

Do you need to make restaurant reservations in Rome?

Yes, absolutely! Restaurants book out fast, especially if they’re popular or if you want to get in on a Friday or Saturday night. 

Luckily, many restaurants in Rome now accept bookings on apps or through their website – check out my guide! 

You may have to call certain places. If your Italian isn’t great, you can ask “Parla inglese?” to see if the person on the other end can speak English! Odds are, if they don’t, someone on staff will.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my treatise on the best pasta in Rome. Want more in-depth guides to Roman food like this? Let me know in the comments!

I want to hear from you! Do you have a favorite Roman pasta? And where can you get the best pasta in Rome, in your opinion? Share in the comments below!

Want more Rome? Check out my other tips and guides!

Up for a stroll and some sightseeing? Here’s my free, self-guided walking tour of Rome – map included!

Think you’ve seen it all? Check out my guide to Rome’s lesser-known sights!

Want to go out for a special dinner with a special someone? Here’s my guide on where to go on a date in Rome!

Ready for an aperitivo? I’ve got the ultimate guide to natural wine in Rome for you!

Trying to figure out how to get around the Eternal City? Check out my guide to Rome’s shared micro-mobility companies.

Short on time and want to taste it all?

Consider taking this highly rated food tour!

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