With its warm welcome and rustic homemade cuisine, Antico Arco provides everything you might expect from a family-run restaurant, albeit one with a luxurious edge. The menu is typically Roman, executed with creative flair and a sprinkling of exotic ingredients; ravioli comes generously stuffed with sea bass and served in Datterini tomato arrabbiata sauce, while roasted pigeon breasts are accompanied by an unusual combination of blackberries, vanilla and mashed potatoes with a hint of lime. The interior is appropriately homely; dark wood floors and exposed stonewalls create an intimate atmosphere, while the furnishings are contemporary but sympathetic to the original 19th-century architecture.
Antico Arco, Piazzale Aurelio 7, 00152 Rome, +39 06 581 5274
This charming restaurant in the heart of Rome’s Campo de’ Fiori has flourished thanks to the experimental flair of chef Anthony Genovese. His twists on classic Italian cuisine range from cheese and mushroom ravioli served with a black tea consommé to a Moroccan-influenced spiced lamb with chickpeas and apricots. The décor similarly combines tradition with more contemporary design touches; tiled flooring and arched doorways nod to the area’s heritage while modern art installations add a futuristic feel. Be sure to stay for dessert; French pastry chef Marion Lichtle is internationally renowned for her unusual sweet creations.
Il Pagliaccio, Via dei Banchi Vecchi 129A, 00186 Rome, +39 06 6880 9595
Tuna has long been a well-kept secret among locals but its vast, seafood-only menu and exquisite interior more than merit wider attention. The seafood selection ranges from crayfish to shellfish and urchins, all caught fresh from the Mediterranean and simply prepared to ensure natural flavours come to the fore. The simplest dishes are some of the most effective; spaghetti with sea urchin pulp, calamari with a guacamole sauce and sliced swordfish with capers are all highly recommended. The restaurant interior embodies Rome’s romantic side; its all-white décor looks best lit by candles. Tuna’s oyster plate with a chilled glass of Champagne is ideal for a special occasion.
Tuna, Via Veneto 11, 00187 Rome, +39 06 4201 6531
The menu at local favourite Al Ceppo is always a surprise as it is based solely upon the ingredients available each day at the nearby market. The menu may be changeable but diners can be certain that each dish will be full of character and flavour and comes paired with an exquisite local wine; you might find fusilli pasta with bacon and artichoke or a tender beef fillet with black truffles among the selection. The restaurant interior has recently been subject to an extensive refurbishment that has given it a refined elegance, complemented by dark wood furnishings, period oil paintings and rich fabrics.
Al Ceppo, Via Panama 2, 00198 Rome, +39 06 8530 1370