Eat Well for Less in Rome: Our 5 Favourite Restaurants

When in Rome, do as the Romans do and eat at simple tavernas.  The ancient Romans may have had a weakness for nightingale tongues and flamingo brains, but the modern Roman restaurant-goer tends to favour a simpler menu. You’ll find discerning diners avoiding extravagant restaurants in favour of unassuming hosterias and traditional trattorias serving cucina povera (“poor food”) based on simple but delicious rustic flavours.  And, if you want to eat well for less, you should too.

cheap car hire romeLa Carbonara

The atmospheric setting at La Carbonara (Via Panisperna, in Monti) will whet your appetite for the fragrant mounds of ravioli alle noci, fritto vegetale, and bollito to come. If you’re partial to a touch of spice, order pasta zi Tere, redolent with fresh tomato, chile, basil, and pecorino and named after owner/chef Donna Teresa, who has presided over this establishment for more than 30 years.

Osteria Bonelli

The location is far from classy, but Osteria Bonelli (Viale dell’Acquedotto Alessandrino, in Torpignattara) makes up for its seedy setting with top-notch food. Forget the paper tablecloths and lack of menus – trust the judgment of the waitresses and look forward to gulping down great dishes and excellent red wine before gasping at the tiny bill. Try the ricotta e spinaci ravioli or pasta alla gricia.

Hostaria Romana

Take a tip from those in the know: Hostaria Romana on Via del Boccaccio, is the kind of restaurant you’ll just keep coming back to – and once you’re seated at a cosy table, you’ll never want to leave.  A warm atmosphere and friendly service accompany find dishes such as the specialty ossobuco cremolato con funghi e piselli and the bombolotti alla gricia.


The husband-and-wife team of Paola and Vincenzo work wonders in the kitchen of L’Idillio, a gem of a restaurant on the Via Augusto Dulceri. They sprinkle their magic on classic Roman dishes and conjure up new delights, while son Andrea, a certified sommelier, delivers great advice on what tasty yet affordable bottle will best complement your meal.

cheap car hire romeDa Enzo

The locals would prefer if you didn’t know about it, but Da Enzo is unmissable if you want to try seriously good ingredients cooked simply and well. Tucked away in a relatively quiet corner of eastern Trastevere (Via dei Vascellari), Da Enzo serves only organic meat, cheese, eggs, and wine, and all the vegetables are from local farms. Specialties include exquisite baccala, carciofi judia, stuffed courgette flowers, and a variety of dishes with artichokes.

And remember, your best choice for exploring the delights – both culinary and otherwise – of this exquisite corner of the world is car rental in Rome from Nova Car Hire.