When you think of foodie neighborhoods in Rome, what comes to mind? Testaccio? Trastevere? What about San Giovanni?
Don’t get me wrong, Testaccio and Trastevere are full of great places to eat, but don’t sleep on San Giovanni either. This neighborhood, named after the church of San Giovanni in Laterano, holds its own when it comes to restaurants. In fact, some of the most popular chefs in town have spots there.
If you happen to be staying in San Giovanni, or perhaps looking for a place to eat after visiting the church, I’ve got you covered. Eating in San Giovanni is also a good option if you want to escape the tourist traps in the area surrounding the Colosseum (although be prepared for a bit of a walk).
Ready to discover where to eat in San Giovanni? Let’s do it!
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Where to eat in San Giovanni
A disclaimer on walking distances
Sometimes, I feel like what I perceive to be a reasonable walking distance is not seen as being so to others. I consider everything within 30 minutes or less as being perfectly reasonable, and sometimes, I’ll leave extra early to reach my destination, just so I can walk for an hour or so.
Walking short distances in Rome is often equal to or quicker than taking public transportation, so in addition to the health benefits, it’s favorable for timing as well.
All of that said, the restaurants on this list are in walking distance of San Giovanni in Laterano and its metro stop on the A line (also called San Giovanni) – and by walking distance, I mean maximum 20 minutes on foot. The furthest away are the two pizzerias, Sbanco and Core de Roma.
Do you need to make reservations at restaurants in Rome?
The short answer is yes, restaurant reservations are always advised, especially if you’re here during the high season (which now seems to be all year). But guess what – I’ve got you covered there, too! Check out my detailed post on how to make restaurant reservations in Italy.
Reservations by phone only: 06.789318
Sbanco serves up thick-crusted pizzas, fritti and craft beer. Owned by one of Rome’s best-known chefs, Stefano Callegari, who, in addition to inventing the city’s beloved street-food staple, the Trapizzino, also owns Romanè near the Cipro metro stop, which became popular among Rome’s foodie set shortly after opening, Armare, a fish restaurant in the same area, and two other pizzerias.
Sbanco sparkles with bright lights and a chic, post-industrial vibe. Go here if you’re hungry – the pizza toppings are generous and the fritti crunch just right.
Core de Roma
This restaurant/pizzeria is a must for any Roma or soccer fan in general. The walls are lined with AS Roma jerseys, memorabilia, and photos.
Among the bric-a-brac are three giant screens, for watching the game, of course.
I’ve only had pizza at Core de Roma, but the menu looks to offer classic Roman pastas, as well as some others featuring truffles and seafood.
Reservations essential; book online here.
The food is extremely memorable at this neo-trattoria, which is a perfect blend of past and future, both in terms of the décor and the menu.
Chef Sarah Cicolini, who has risen to fame thanks to the attention received by the stellar dishes she and her team serve, is a native of Abruzzo but an adopted Roman. You might have seen her on “Searching for Italy” with Stanley Tucci, or perhaps, if you’re a fan of MasterChef, as a guest judge on MasterChef Italia.
Named for a now-closed futurist restaurant in Torino called la Taverna del SantoPalato, which opened in 1931 shortly after the publication of the Manifesto of Futurist Cuisine, Cicolini seemingly wants to harness the energy and motion exalted by futurists to take Roman cuisine to the next level.
The food at Santo Palato is mostly Roman and includes several offal offerings, but Cicolini occasionally slips in other regional dishes. The wine is natural (naturally).
When I say that there are three dishes at Santo Palato that I think about on a regular basis, I am not lying.
The first two are appetizers that are, as far as I know, generally regularly available (the menu does change, though).
The first is a futuristic interpretation of a Roman classic: coda alla vaccinara. Generally stewed with vegetables in tomato sauce until it pulls apart, coda alla vaccinara (oxtail in English) has been reimagined by Cicolini as a fried meatball. The jammy interior, all tang and tenderness, is darkened by a dusting of bitter cocoa powder on top, and lightened by a puree of peanuts and levistico (lovage, in English) on the bottom.
The second, and when I say I could actually eat it every day, I mean it, is a pillowy frittata with a heart of creamy, seasoned chicken giblets. Two of my favorite foods in one little pan? Yes, please.
The third is actually one of the specials that I had the fortune of eating there a few years ago – a pasta dish from Campania called Genovese that I really think deserves more attention than it gets. The dish combines pasta (in this case, ziti) with slow-cooked beef and a whole mess of melty onions. Sprinkled with salty parmesan, the dish was everything I love about pasta: warming, filling, and savory. Cicolini’s version was heavy on the beef. When I’ve eaten pasta alla Genovese in Naples in the past, it tends to be less meaty and more oniony. I preferred Cicolini’s more decadent version, if I’m being honest.
Don’t worry, if you don’t happen to make it there on a Genovese day, the regular pastas are stellar – I’m talking some of the best amatriciana and carbonara in the city.
Interested in learning all about pasta in the Eternal City? Check out my massive guide to Roman pasta.
The brothers that run Barred serve up contemporary dishes that remain faithful to their roots.
The menu is fun. It’s always changing, and includes small plates, but also pasta, innovative ingredient pairings, and natural wines.
The last time I went there I had a slab of roasted pumpkin with leafy greens and toasted nuts on top. On a previous visit, I had a chocolate pecan tart that was one of the best desserts I’ve had in recent memory.
If you’re craving something other than typical Roman fare in the San Giovanni neighborhood, Barred is the spot for you.
Da Roberto e Loretta
Book by phone at: 06 7720 1037
If, on the other hand, you’re craving a slightly more classic menu, head to Da Roberto e Loretta, a family-run elegant spot with white tablecloths.
There are twists to be found – the cacio e pepe comes with fried artichoke leaves, for example – but the menu leans heavily on traditional ingredients and preparations.
With the addition of seafood dishes as antipasti, primi, and secondi alongside classics like carbonara and oxtail, da Roberto e Loretta has something for everyone.
Book by phone at: 06 6931 7603
I wrote a whole post about Epiro after I went, that’s how much I liked it.
You’ll find an ever-changing menu of a few small plates, a few pasta dishes, and a few mains plus a sweet or two. Wash it all down with a bottle of natural wine from their extensive list.
Where to have dessert in San Giovanni
If you have the energy for a 15-minute walk after lunch, make your way to Charlotte Pasticceria.
Closer to the Re di Roma metro stop, but still within a reasonable distance of San Giovanni, the sweets at Charlotte are definitely worth walking for.
Almost too pretty to eat (almost), the selection of glazed, ganached, frosted, iced, meringued, berry-and-or-nut-dotted, whipped-cream-crowned colorful baked goods will turn anybody into a kid in a candy store.
They also serve filter coffee, which I enjoy.
Gelateria La Romana
La Romana is an Italian chain that has spread outside of Italy since first opening in Rimini in 1947.
The modern storefronts aren’t what draws you in, it’s the smell of the fresh crepes they also serve and melted chocolate, which you have in the bottom of your cone, if you choose.
Unlike other chains, the gelato at La Romana is “artigianale,” which means that it’s made daily on-site from fresh ingredients.
Lines can get long at La Romana, but it’s really good.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to where to eat in Rome’s San Giovanni neighborhood. Have any places to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!
Want more Rome?
Check out my other posts on where to eat in Rome, what to eat in Rome, how to avoid tourist traps in Italy, and my complete guide to the Italian meal structure. Tired of Roman food? I’ve got you: Here’s my post on the best non-Italian food in Rome.