There’s a saying here in Rome that Sunday is about three things: church, soccer and food. We’ve got you covered when it comes to the third thing.
Any trip to Rome should include a Sunday. Like all Italians, Romans use Sunday to relax, eat big meals, get coffee and go for walks.
The advantage of Rome in particular is that, being a big city, it has many spots open on Sundays: bars, restaurants, pubs and pizzerias. So where should you eat in Rome on a Sunday? We’ve mapped out a full day for you below, so dress in your Sunday best and head out on the town.
Sunday Morning Breakfast
Sunday morning in Rome is about one thing: the bar.
Romans take advantage of their day off to have a leisurely breakfast, often in the company of friends and family. Coffee and pastries tend to reign supreme. But if you walk into any bar in Rome on a Sunday, you’re bound to see a few people sipping a Campari soda and snacking on some potato chips.
Here are some of our favorite bars for a Sunday breakfast.
A Testaccio institution, Linari is the platonic ideal of a Roman Sunday bar.
Walk in on Sunday morning and you’ll literally rub elbows with the crowds of locals at the the glass-cased bar. Under that glass, you’ll see row after row of pastries: cornetti, danishes, maritozzi (whipped-cream filled brioche), or the pride of the house: ciambelle (flat, eggy doughnuts rolled in sugar). Get a pastry and a cappuccino and snag a table outside.
If there is one thing that Rome does well, it’s the outdoor sip-and-snack.
Panella, one of the storied bakeries of Rome, does it really well. Here, you can go in the sweet or savory direction.
In the former, there’s stellar coffee (served with a marshmallow-like zabaglione to sweeten it) and a huge variety of pastries and homemade cookies. In the latter, there’s prosecco, Aperol Spritzes (don’t listen to the New York Times) and pizza: thin, crunchy bites of dough topped with vegetables or stuffed with mortadella.
Either way you decide, sit outside under the umbrellas and people-watch.
The Iconic Sunday Lunch
Sunday lunch is the meal of the week in Rome (and in all of Italy, really). It’s usually big and drawn-out, with rich dishes like baked pasta and roasted meats, always eaten with family and friends.
Most people eat at home, but many also go out for lunch. They dress well, eat multiple courses, and linger over that second bottle of wine. We’ll the leave the fashion recommendations to others, but here’s where you can eat a classic Sunday lunch in Rome.
One of the most spectacularly-set restaurants in Rome, L’Archeologia is on the ruin-filled Via Appia Antica, and is accordingly decorated with statues, ancient stones and old paintings.
Elegant but not stuffy, pricey but not ridiculously so, this is a place to plan your day around. The food is modern Roman: hyper-seasonal, with a focus on fresh fish from the nearby coast. Think dishes like homemade pasta with clams and tomatoes, slow-cooked egg with truffle and asparagus, and salt-baked branzino (European sea bass). And you have to order a bottle of wine from the centuries-old cellar that you can peek into on the way to the bathroom.
Al Ceppo, in the upscale Parioli neighborhood, is the Italian version of fine dining: impeccable quality without pretension. Owned by two sisters from the Marche region east of Rome, the cuisine combines the best of both areas.
Start with superb cured meats from the Marches, paired with housemade focaccia that weeps oil. For pasta, it’s difficult to choose between a goose ragù and that Roman classic, carbonara, but with fresh black truffle grated over top—a lily that can definitely be gilded.
A main course is a must, preferably from the open grill near the entrance, from which prime steaks, baby lamb and fennel-dusted sweetbreads all exit.
Sunday night is pizza night in Rome. After cooking and eating all day, many families want to get out of the house and have a simple, cheap meal. A thin-crust Roman pie, with a cold beer and maybe a fried starter or two, is just that.
Virtually every sit-down pizzeria in Rome is open on Sunday night. Here are the places worth going to.
La Gatta Mangiona
This pizzeria is called “The Hungry Cat,” mostly because of the numerous feline sketches on the walls. But this place is no gimmick—the pizzas are so good that you might start mewling while waiting for yours to arrive.
A fusion of Roman and Neapolitan-style, the pies at La Gatta Mangiona have a sturdy, slightly crispy bottom, but a raised, puffy crust, all of it lightly charred and smoky from the wood oven. The toppings range from the classic (margherita) to baroque (spicy Calabrese salame and olives) to way out there (lemongrass, anyone?).
Whatever you do, get a calzoncello to start. That’s a small pocket of fried dough stuffed with cheese and prosciutto. Your first bite will have you wishing you’d ordered two more.
Start with a bruschetta made with bread from Roscioli Bakery and rigorously-sourced tomatoes and garlic, or a perfect suppli al telefono (a fried rice ball stuffed with mozzarella that stretches when pulled open, resembling an old-fashioned telephone). Then it’s time for the main event.
The crust here is classic Roman: crackly-crisp and best suited for a light scattering of toppings. You could get a pizza with jamón ibérico, but the simple Margherita Vacche Rosse, with three-year-old parmigiano, is more than good enough.
A plus? When you walk out of the restaurant for your Sunday-night stroll, the Pantheon is a minute away.Want our insider’s guide to eating in Rome? Just add your email address in the form below!
Despite the name, Giancarlo was actually born and raised in Boston. He now lives in Rome, where he works as a freelance journalist. Passionate about Rome’s food, history and culture, he can usually be found with a good book and, depending on the time of day, an espresso or an Aperol Spritz. Never Campari.