Looking for child-friendly foods, fun restaurants, and affordable prices in Rome? Let’s start with these few:
Alfredo e Ada | Your Italian grandmother’s house. Ada, the gentle owner recently passed away. But her traditional kidness has been inherited by Sergio–her son–who will make you feel at home in the small and often crowded restaurant. Kids are doted on, and they’ll feel immediately at ease in the homey, bustling atmosphere.
There’s no menu here–you eat whatever has been made that day, usually one pasta dish and a couple entrees. There’s always plenty of vegetables, either steamed or sautéed. Everything is fresh, delicious and authentic. To close the meal, grown ups can treat yourselves to homemade cookies dipped in sweet wine. Via dei Banchi Nuovi 14 | Tel. 06 687 8842 | A short walk from Castel San’Angelo, Piazza Navona, St. Peter’s Basilica.
Lucia | Lovely typical family run Trastevere osteria where kids are welcome to roam around the tables and are treated like royalty by the friendly staff. The food is homemade local, traditional and very healthy, no junk food or children’s menu. The sauce is made from garden tomatoes, the meat carefully picked at the market that same morning, the vegetables jump at you with freshness. Kids love it here, because between mouthfuls they can stare at newspaper clippings, kinck knacks, family pictures, and lots of ancient kitchen implements hung on the walls. Leave room for dessert and don’t miss Lucia’s homemade tiramisu or the panna cotta with fresh fruit. Vicolo del Mattonato, 2b | Tel. +39 06 580 3601 | Closed on Mondays.
Augusto | Try your kids’ courage (and yours too) by at least once during your stay in Rome, trying the city’s typical offal cuisine. Steps away from the old Roman slaughterhouse, Augusto (Augustarello for his friends and aficionados) is one of Testaccio’s most wonderful informal dining establishments, serving up the best offal in town. Honest, down to earth and affordable. The food? Fantastic, homemade and hearty. Coda alla vaccinara (stewed oxtail), Trippa (tripe), Animelle e Muscoletti (a “salad” made with nerves and other meat cuttings), Fagioli con le Cotiche (beans and pork cracklings), Pajata (a peculiar dish made with suckling lamb’s intestines…I’ve never had the guts–no pun intended–to try it). There are of course other non-innard items on the menu, plus the usual homemade desserts like caramel custard or the awesome Crostata di Visciole, a wild cherry tartlet to die for. Via Giovanni Branca, 98/100 | Tel. +39 06 574 6585 Closed on Sundays and Monday at lunch
Pizzeria Ai Marmi aka “er cassamortaro” | The marble tabletops of this rather stark-looking pizzeria and neon lighting have awarded Pizzeria ai Marmi the nickname er cassamortaro, which is Roman slang for “the coffin-maker.” The pizza here is more than decent, but what’s best is the warm and child-friendly atmosphere. The place is always packed, even the summer when the pizzeria doubles its occupancy with numerous tables outside, shaded by canvas umbrellas. Look for the sign saying “Pizzeria” and the stony marble tables inside. Seating is cafeteria-style, so don’t hope to make a reservation. Viale Trastevere, 53-59 | Tel. + 39 06 580 0919 | Open for dinner only.
La Montecarlo | A great place where to end the day of sightseeing and walking. Pizzeria Montecarlo is always busy and welcomes guests with a friendly and fast service. The tables may be a bit to close, but the pizza, fried antipasti and bruschetta amply make up for that.Prices for a pizza range between €8 and €16. If you’re driving there, good luck finding a parking spot after 7 p.m. Vicolo Savelli, 12 | Tel. +39 06 686 1877 | Closed Mondays.
Ivo | Probably Rome’s most loved pizzeria is in Trastevere, so forget going there on a Saturday. There is no reservation, rather the typical “whose last in line?” so prepare for a long wait after 8:30 p.m. The pizza served at Ivo’s is the classical Roman: thin and crisp, delightful and baked in a wood fired oven. Meals here always begin with fried goodies: supplì, which are tasty breaded rice dumplings, potato croquettes, or fiori–friend zucchini blossoms. Kids also love Ivo’s mouth-watering bruschette: sliced tomatoes, olive oil and basil, cannellini beans and whatever the cook’s whim that day. The service is fast and courteous, in summer the place expands outside in the cobbled street. Open only for dinner, closed on Tuesday. Via Di S. Francesco a Ripa 158 | Tel. +39 06 581 7082
Forno Campo de’ Fiori | The pizza bianca sold by weight at the Forno Campo de Fiori is among the best in town, and all of the breads and pastries sold here are excellent too. Small children are always given a complimentary slice of pizza to chew on as soon as parents walk through the door to make the wait in line tastier. Customers can watch the bakers in action through big glass windows, and then browse the market, or sit on the marble rim of a fountain or a bench and take in all the colors, aromas and sounds. The Forno’s second location next door sells sandwiches already made for takeaway, excellent place for picnic-shopping. Campo De’ Fiori, 22 | Tel. +39 06 6880 6662 | www.fornocampodefiori.com
Image © Roma Every Day
Ara Coeli | In the small Piazza Ara Coeli square, at the foot of the Capitoline Hill (Campidoglio), you will find this artisan ice cream shop which produces the finest homemade ice cream, yogurt soaked in sweet sauces with mountains of crunchy toppings, special icy flavored drinks, juices, fresh fruit shakes and chocolate with cream. Black Sicilian mulberry, for example, meets Genoan basil in Gelateria Ara Coeli’s new granita flavor, kids also love the establishment’s frozen tiramisu, or the creamy prickly pear ice cream. Piazza dell’Ara Coeli, 9
Fatamorgana | Dark chocolate-wasabi gelato is only one of the mouth-watering flavors packed in the non-ending display case. Fatamorgana’s dedication to producing ice cream from scratch using exclusively fresh, seasonal ingredients and gluten-free products enhances the quality of its bold flavors, like the bizarre gorgonzola and pears, or confections inspired by Sardinian seadas (fried pastries filled with halloumi-type cheese, then drizzled with chestnut honey); almond-cardamom, white chocolate, poppy seed, and pine nuts. Via Lago di Lesina, 9 | Via Ostiense, 36E | Via G. Bettolo, 7
Gelato di San Crispino | At Gelato di San Crispino’s five Rome-wide locations, every summer new trends come into fashion. Last summer the only sweetener used for the grainy signature gelato was sugar extracted by Chilean Antofagasta grapes; this year it’s decadent pleasures like ricotta, liquorice, zibibbo di Pantelleria (made from the island’s Muscat raisins); or the signature San Crispino made with strawberry tree honey–which add onto the more wintery flavors like zabaione; rum cacao; chestnut, and Armagnac, to mention a few. Via Acaia 56 | Via della Panetteria 42 | Fiumicino Air Terminal A | Piazza della Maddalena, 3 | Roma Est Shopping Mall
Cremeria Aurelia | Inspired perhaps by Khaled Hosseini’s Kite Runner, Cremeria Aurelia’s gelato of choice this summer is pistachio nuts and rose-water. In its well-guarded vaults, also the recipes for Red Gold, a gelato blend made with saffron and ricotta; and the house’s hallmark Provençal lavender cream. Via Aurelia, 398C
Pascucci | Despite the 71 birthday candles, at Pascucci’s–Roman milkshake shrine par excellence–the blenders of the newly remodeled shop still pour gallons of refreshing combos like those made with tropical fruits and organic milk from grass-fed cows; the walnut & avocado special, or the Amalfi, a chilled delight made with, among other fresh ingredients, local Amalfi organic lemons. Via di Torre Argentina, 20
Pica | Alfredo Pica–Signor Gelato himself–according to many, makes Rome’s best. Among the old-fashioned constants, shining brightly is a noteworthy pistachio, and–a Pica original–riso alla cannella, which is a frozen, crunchy, cinnamon-laced rice pudding. All the sorbets are made from nothing but fruit and sugar. On any given day, small batches of unusual flavors can include fragrant, bright-pink rosa, made from candied rose petals; egg-based custard with fragoline di bosco, tiny wild strawberries; and the indescribable manna, a heavenly sweet tree resin of biblical fame. Via Della Seggiola, 12
My son and I are loyal to Oxilia, (in Via Nino Oxilia, 8–Parioli) our neighborhood gelato pusher, an Argentine who will pass us vats of bootleg Dulce de Leche under the counter, or phone me (PHONE ME, I said) when the fresh melon cremolato is ready to be scooped on wafer cones…
…Or Gelateria del Teatro, in Piazza S. Simeone 22, off Via dei Coronari–whose Langhe hazelnut, organic fig or Bronte pistachio ice creams never cease to astound us…