Rome’s centro storico is the city’s beating heart, home to historic monuments, trendy boutiques, and stately palaces. And the very best neighborhood is the historic Regola, one of Rome’s most historic neighborhoods as well as the city’s busiest foodie area.
I’ve lived in Regola for a few decades and to me, this micro-neighbourhood is the best. Located on the left bank of the Tiber river between the Ghetto, Ponte della Vittoria and Piazza Navona, Regola is a strip of narrow streets, beautiful churches, and amazing landmarks like Campo de’ Fiori market, 17th-century Palazzo Farnese, Palazzo Sachetti and Galleria Spada. This is Rome’s true cross roads where culture, history and culinary delights all meet.
Don’t be fooled by the tour groups, Regola is where Romans live, work, and most importantly, eat. Not only does the magical triangle southwest of the Pantheon and Piazza Navona have the highest concentration of Michelin stars and great restaurants, it’s also home to the Forno and of course, the famed Roscioli triumvirate Antico Forno, Roscioli Salumeria and Roscioli caffe, as well as well as more than a handful of under-the-radar culinary delights. No wonder the nickname for residents is mangiacode, a nickname rerferencing the Roman oxtail dish coda alla vaccinara meaning we’ll eat anything and everything!
Tables to Book
Chef Antony Genovese may have a thing for clowns (look around the restaurant) but his intimate Il Pagliaccio does not clown around. Impeccable service, a very innovative Asian-inspired meets Italy cuisine and contemporary design are just a few reasons why Il Pagliaccio has two Michelin stars. The main reason, in my opinion, is Genovese himself, he is luminary and has mentored a constellation of top chefs.
After Il Pagliaccio opened its doors, Regola saw a deluge of other hot ticket tables, starting with Supplizio, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that specializes in elevated Roman street food. You can’t book a table here, but if you arrive at promptly at noon or 5pm, you will be able to sink yourself into one of the deep leather armchairs while you wait for Arcangelo and Fabrizio’s delicious supplì.
Supplì are Rome’s comfort food- fried rice balls filled with mozzarella and red sauce. Supplizìo makes the best classico, and has a bunch of different flavour versions like local favourite amatriciana, as well as a few other specialities like il mio garum (fried anchovies) and crocchette di patate (potato croquettes).
Chef Giulio Terrinoni’s Per Me Giulio Terrinoni hides on Regola’s ivy-covered Vicolo della Moretta. The Michelin-starred restaurant’s innovative “tappi” (tapas-style snacks) quickly won over the hearts (and stomachs) of epicureans around the city. The seasonal menu changes daily, but sample dishes include cappellacci pasta stuffed with guinea fowl and smoked pecorino and prawn carpaccio with foie gras and red onion jelly.
“Gluttony — Regola is the most calorific neighborhood in all of Rome and Lazio,” says Alessandro Pipero, the founder of his eponymous Pipero Roma. With its Michelin star, Pipero has reigned for a decade as one of Rome’s top fine dining addresses and I’d argue that it’s just as much about the cuisine as it is the service and style. A sleek open space, with high ceilings, contemporary art, and elegant arched doorways, Pipero is gorgeous, the kind of table to book for a romantic, rainy night.
Old school Rome foodies will remind you that Pipero is not Piperno, the 160+ year old restaurant that reigns in a tiny piazza on a tiny hill on the edge where Regola meets the Ghetto. Piperno is definitely worth your time. A favorite of many of Cinecittà and Hollywood luminaries, Piperno is a yesteryear find dining restaurant (white table cloths, period furniture, artwork I would find at my nonna’s house) and just a reliable good menu.
Luciano Cuciano, home to chef Luciano Monosilio, aka the King of Carbonara. Luciano has a Michelin pedigree and a great sense of humor. His eponymous restaurant is what I like to call Next Gen trattoria- Contemporary design and contemporary dishes, as well as a few Roman favorites like his world-dominating carbonara. Luciano is the chef who brought the Michelin star to Pipero, thanks to his impeccable take on the Roman dish, which I always want to order. But if you can resist, definitely try anything else. Luciano has the preternatural ability to combine the unexpected into delicious dishes.
Hostaria Farnese is the place when I want home cooking and a great view of Palazzo Farnese. Here’s where I order Roman favorites like saltimbocca alla romana (pan-sauteed veal, sage, and prosciutto), carciofo alla romana (braised artichoke with mint), and puntarelle (chicory sprouts in a vinegar-anchovy sauce).
Roscioli Salumeria, the hard-to-get-a-table gourmet deli and restaurant that’s on everyone’s list. Its menu includes delectable pasta dishes, fresh seafood, and house-made desserts, and Roscioli serves ,y favorite cacio e pepe in the city. Its wine list is equally impressive, featuring a diverse range of regional and international varietals. To be honest, I find the space a bit crowded for my tastes and so do others who opt for satellite sister Rimessa Roscioli . This is not the same restaurant nor the same menu, in fact the menu is much more simplified focusing on traditional Roman dishes. The draw to Rimessa is its abundant wine list and well-informed servers.
Finally, you know I must add PierLuigi, the fab fish restaurant with its own piazza. Roberto and son Lorenzo Lisi are incredibly skilled in the art of restaurant- from the kitchen to the table. Fish is the speciality, which is why there is an extensive banco with the day’s very fresh catch. The Lisi family has spent years cultivating relationships with Terracina’s fishermen and they love to eat, so the dishes are very well-thought. The Lisi also love wine and have a very large list with sommelier Alessandro super informed and helpful. PierLuigi has been a favourite of ours for years, long before it became the spot for celeb watching. We love a late lunch with spaghetti con astice, Alessandro’s wine selection and a nice breeze. This is a sexy splurge.
Where to grab a drink in Regola
I really love cocktails and I’m lucky that I live in Regola. The Jerry Thomas Speakeasy, a hidden retro-styled bar is what put Rome into the cocktail game when it started as late night collab for offduty bartenders. Now Jerry Thomas can easily say they make the best cocktails in the neighborhood, meanwhile 50s Best would say Jerry Thomas is one of the world’s best.
I’ve got my eye on newcomer Veleno Pasta Bar, the bar hidden in the cantina of Luciano Cucina. Bartender Luca Fanari mixes up Wasteland, a menu of specialty cocktails made from scarti, leftovers or throw outs of Luciano’s culinary work. This somewhat pre-fab, almost-all-natural elixirs are cleverly delicious drinks made from reductions of tomato skins and infusions of parmigiana. And yes, you could book a table and order Luciano’s famous carbonara.
Wine lovers will lose themselves at Angolo Divino and Enoteca Il Goccetto, two historic and rustic wine bars each with over 850 different labels. Both enoteche also have a light menu of salumi (cheese and cured meats), other antipasti and some pasts.
For Travel + Leisure, February 2019 I write about how Regola has become a foodie destination. Updated in May 2023.