Looking for child-friendly foods, fun restaurants, and affordable prices in Rome where eyebrows will never rise when you walk in with the kids? Let’s start with these few:
Hostaria Buccilli This is a typical trattoria in a countryside setting, located in the Northern suburbs of Rome. The food is homey and the welcoming family ambiance do the rest. But Buccilli’s kiddy plus is the spacious garden, where soccer and scampering are strongly encouraged while parents enjoy their lunch under the shady pergola or the sunlit veranda. In the colder months, book a table in the smaller room by the huge fireplace barbecue. Plenty of high chairs, pillows and friendly waiters. Luigi speaks fluent English and French.
Via dei Due Ponti, 48 | Tel. +39 06 334 0048 | Closed Monday
Agustarello Test your kids’ foodie courage (and yours too) by at least once during your stay in Rome, trying the city’s typical offal cuisine, known here as the fifth quarter, or all those dishes that employ the leftover parts of grazing animals (tripe, sweetbreads, lungs, nerves, tail, intestines, liver, etc.). Steps away from the old Roman slaughterhouse, Agustarello is one of Testaccio’s consistently reliable dining establishments: honest, informal, down to earth and affordable. The food? Homemade and hearty. Coda alla vaccinara (stewed oxtail), Trippa (tripe), Animelle (sweetbreads), Nervetti (a “salad” made with nerves and other meat cuttings), Fagioli con le Cotiche (beans and pork cracklings), Pajata (a traditional dish made with suckling lamb’s intestines. There are of course other non-organ items on the menu, plus the usual homemade desserts like caramel custard or the awesome Crostata di Visciole. In summer, kids can play tag in the spacious concrete back yard.
Via Giovanni Branca, 98/100 | Tel. +39 06 5746585 | Closed on Sunday and Monday at lunch
Lucia |Typical family-run osteria in the heart of the lovely Trastevere neighborhood 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 selected 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 toppings.
Vicolo del Mattonato, 2b | Tel. +39 06 580 3601 | Closed Monday.
Molto There’s plenty of stroller space in this quiet Parioli restaurant featuring seafood and pasta dishes you can enjoy on a garden-enclosed wooden deck. Kids under six get a discount on the impressive all-you-can-eat Sunday “brunch” buffet spread, priced at €20 instead of €35, which is a full-fledged Italian lunch, so you won’t find pancakes and waffles.
Viale Parioli, 122 | Tel. +39 06 808 2900 | Open daily
Cul de Sac | Long and narrow like a train caboose and serving small tasty portions and sampler platters, this famous wine bar with outside seating in summer, accommodates even the fussiest mini-gourmands. You can’t go wrong with a ball of mozzarella and thinly sliced prosciutto, or the many creative vegetable dishes, hearty soups or commendable house babaghanoush. Meanwhile, grown-ups can sip well-deserved glasses of local Lazio wines.
Piazza Pasquino, 73 | Tel. 06 68801094 | Open daily, lunch and dinner
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.
Piazza Campo de’ Fiori, 22 | Tel. +39 06 6880 6662 | Open daily 7.30 am – 2.30 pm; 4.45 pm – 8 pm
Trapizzino Ponte Milvio | Kids will love tucking into a Trapizzino! Thse are perfect pockets of focaccia stuffed with typical Roman fare, so expect meatballs in tomato sauce, but also tripe, tongue, sweetbreads and other delectable offal dishes in a portable serving. Children can equally enjoy their triangles of happiness filled with Sicilian broccoli and grilled sausage, braised beef cheek, Mesculun salad or vignarola, octopus and tomato sauce. There are two branches, one in Testaccio (in the same block as Agustarello) and one with outdoor seating, in Ponte Milvio, which is near the Foro Italico sports complex, Auditorium, Axel ice skating rink and the soccer stadium.
Piazza Ponte Milvio, 13 | Tel. +39 06 4341 9624 | Open daily 11 am to 2 am
Remo | This informal pizzeria is a perfect place for kids, they are always welcome and the Roman style pizzas (that is thin crust and very little topping) will be a huge success with the little ones. As a starter, ask for the house bruschetta with fresh tomatoes or cannellini beans, or some of the best fried zucchini flowers and battered cod fillets you’ve ever had. Save room for dessert: the tart filled with ricotta and visciole (wild, sour cherries) is unique.
Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice 44 | Tel. +39 06 574 6270 | Open Mon-Sat 6.00 pm-1.00 am
Image © Roma Every Day
Gelateria del Teatro | Located on beautiful Via dei Coronari, this wonderful gelateria has recently expanded and doubled its offer (there’s a second branch on Lungotevere, near Via Arenula) but the quality of its fabulous gelatos remains unaltered. Only high quality ingredients are used here. I walked into the middle of an argument once between one of the owners and a peach supplier. The fruit was not top choice apparently, and the gelato artisan simply refused to buy. “No peach ice cream today, sorry,” he roared, as the disgruntled farmer walked out the door. Apart from the hallmark pure chocolates and standard flavors, the house winter flavor combos include Langhe hazelnut, organic fig and cheese, Bronte pistachio, dark chocolate and Nero d’Avola, honey and gorgonzola. While the summer flavors shine in the delightful spumante and wild strawberry, white peach and garden sage, raspberry and lavender, and the latest: mint stracciatella, and the unusual white chocolate and fresh basil.
Via dei Coronari 65 | Tel. +39 06 4547 4880 | Open daily
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
Pascucci Frullati | Despite the 75 birthday candles, at Pascucci – Roman milkshake shrine par excellence – the blenders of the newly remodeled shop still pour gallons of refreshing combos, like ones made with tropical fruits and organic milk from grass-fed cows: walnut and avocado special, or the Amalfi, a chilled delight made with, among other fresh ingredients, local Amalfi organic lemons. Classic seasonal smoothies include blueberry, banana, strawberry, cantaloupe melon and peach.
Piazza degli Zingari, 5 | Tel. +3906 4890 6955 | other branches: Via di Torre Argentina, 20 | Tel. +39 06 686 4816 | Open 6.00 am to midnight, except on Sunday.
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. There is a spacious outdoor veranda with tables and benches.
Via Della Seggiola, 12 | Tel. +39 06 686 8405 | Open daily
My son and I are loyal to Oxilia, (in Via Nino Oxilia, 8–Parioli) our neighborhood gelato pusher, an Argentine gentleman 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…
Click to read an article I wrote on more child-friendly restaurants.