10 amazing restaurants not far from Rome for a lunch to remember
Start your engines, recharge your cars, and download a nice playlist on Spotify: today we are eating out of town. It only takes a 40-to-90-minute drive to get into beautiful natural landscapes, with a lot of greenery and animals, sandy beaches and iodine-rich wind. From the Castelli Romani to the Agro Pontino via the coastline, you are spoiled for choice on the maps for spending a Sunday out of town, both in terms of destinations and in terms of dining. The surroundings of Rome indeed offer dozens and dozens of incredible restaurants, pizzerias and bakeries.
Here are our 10 favourites.
Li Somari – Trattoria Fuori Porta
Via Ponte Gregoriano, 1 – Tivoli
An old stable that housed donkeys in the historic centre of Tivoli is the new bet of Andrea La Caita, former partner and founder of, among others, Rome’s new two-star Michelin Acquolina at The First Roma Arte Hotel. He has involved his friend Adriano Baldassare in running the kitchens of Li Somari, much more than an out-of-town trattoria. Here, in fact, Baldassare, a Roman chef born in the capital in 1977 with roots in Abruzzo and with a strong career established with Giorgio Locatelli in London, Antonello Colonna in Labico, Francesco Apreda in India and then in his one Michelin-starred restaurant Tordomatto, explores a cuisine rooted in the territory. Li Somari’s menu changes frequently according to what the market offers. On the menu you will find traditional dishes reinterpreted with a contemporary twist. There’s the stuffed roasted broccoli and pecorino fondue, the regaje skillet and garlic bread crostone, and even oxtail meatballs and celery and the much-loved fettuccine with butter, parmesan, lemon and marjoram. The restaurant seats 28 in the lower room that once housed the old stable, with brick vaults, rough wood and marble tables and salvaged furniture, and a more private table for just five diners, just across from the kitchen.
Portale 21 Opificio di Cucina
Via Rodolfo Morandi, 32 – Marino
In Marino, Valentina Pacifici wins over locals with young, pop cuisine. At her Portale 21, in a large, bright space that spans over the indoors and outdoors, you can enjoy tapas with an Italian flair. The beef crudo is insane, along with the vignarola, pecorino and crispy artichokes, as well as the veal, sweetbread with butter, agretti and garlic and the amazing Apulian focaccina made by Valentina enriched with pistachio mortadella, Roman-style artichoke and smoked scamorza. But don’t stop at tapas: keep ordering first courses such as home-made tagliolini with black pork lard, chestnuts and peat. Also excellent are the desserts, all strictly homemade such as Tartisù, as well as cocktails and wines.
La Taverna di Bacco
Largo Luigi Trafelli, 5 – Nettuno
In the heart of Nettuno, in a beautiful and romantic little square, you can eat some of the most exciting cuisine in all of Lazio. We are at Taverna di Bacco, the beloved spot of the Villani family, which opened this small-scale eatery in 2015. In an elegant setting amid glass, wood and marble, we eat refined, contemporary dishes signed by Italian-Brazilian chef Felipe Augusto Dos Santos, who contaminates local recipes and ingredients with spices and techniques with an international flair. A few examples? Carpaccio of catch of the day, oyster madness, olives and cherry tomatoes and Spaghettone butter, anchovies and puntarelle. The wine list is also particularly extensive and carefully curated.
Viale dei Castani, 17 – Ariccia
Sintesi is the new starred sign of the Lazio countryside. Since the day they opened, just before the pandemic broke out Sara Scarsella and Matteo Compagnucci in the kitchen, along with Sara’s sister Carla in the dining room, have breathed new life into Ariccia, redefining it as a gastronomic destination. The restaurant, with its minimal design made of wood and greenery, offers young cuisine, the result of its owners’ experiences around the world from Australia to Denmark. The menu offers the possibility to range over both the dishes on the list and the 7- or 9-course tasting. Recommended are the roasted cardoncello, mushroom bottom and salsa verde, the risotto with fermented cedar, broad beans and fennel, and again the pigeon. Of the highest standard is the homemade bread, served with herb butter. Original and worth experiencing is the non-alcoholic pairing with juices and kombucha.
DLR (Dopo Lavoro Ricreativo)
Via Nino Bixio, 1 – Frascati
DLR, Dopo Lavoro Ricreativo, is the brainchild of chef Jacopo Ricci, who leaves the city and fine dining to return to his home area, the Castelli Romani. Here, in an atmosphere reminiscent of the trattorias of the 1970s, simple and informal, Jacopo revels in cuisine that is only seemingly simple. Every dish on the menu is created from raw materials that are in season and strictly from the territory of Lazio and in particular the Castelli. To try are the beef heart with cherries, the pork stuffed dim with spring onion and lemon balm, and again the duck with jackdaws and blackberry leaves.
Via Gioberti, 11 – Frascati
Frascati recently sees itself enriched by a sparkling new opening. Its name is Contatto, a new contemporary-style restaurant by the couple Luca Ludovici and Lorena Cavana. Luca, after working several years in important Italian and foreign kitchens, returns to Frascati with the project of a restaurant where he cooks local raw materials with cutting-edge techniques. Don’t miss the carboncello di grotta, egg and beer, the cappellacci with porchetta and brown bottom of peppers, and again the black pork belly from the Lepini Mountains with roots and plum ketchup. It is possible to opt for two tasting menus of 5 and 7 courses. Worth exploring are the lower floors where there is an amazing basement for gastronomic experimentation.
Nando in pizzeria
Via Roma, 4/6 – Grottaferrata
In Grottaferrata, from the ashes of Peppa and Nando‘s, two establishments were born: Peppa Dolceria, for brunch and breakfast, and Nando in Pizzeria, for dinner. And it is at Nando in Pizzeria that you can taste the Roman pizza of pizzaiolo Mirko Rizzo, beloved in Rome with L’Elementare in Trastevere and Parco Appio. Don’t forget to order the fritti and bruschette before devouring the pizzas, from traditional and non-traditional toppings. In the warmer months we recommend taking a seat in the small outdoor garden.
Ugo Foscolo Street, 15 – Aprilia
For a cool stop out of town, what’s better than ice cream? And the best, in our opinion, is Tonka’s in Aprilia. Here, Valerio Esposito, opened his gelateria in 2010 that now boasts two cones for the Gambero Rosso guide. The flavors are diverse and constantly changing. They are also joined by ice cream cakes, monoportions and granitas.
Via Monte Compatri, 31 – Monte Porzio Catone
In Monte Porzio Catone, from what used to be a small fraschetta, carefully tended by grandfather Amedeo, Hosteria Amedeo restaurant emerges and surprises with its excellent blend of tradition and contemporaneity with traditional dishes revised from a current perspective, lightened and better presented. Try the house-selected cured meats and even the fried artichokes and pork livers. Continue with the homemade fresh pasta in multiple variations, from porcini mushrooms to pork chop ragout. The grilled meats and homemade desserts are excellent too.
Via Litoranea – Sabaudia
In Sabaudia we eat very good meat and especially quinto quarto. Who gets the credit for it all? Buccia Trattoria, owned by Fabrizio Pagliaroni and Daniele Iodice, who, after running a kiosk on the beach, decided to dedicate their place on the shoreline to meat. Lots of buffalo is cooked here, though the real must-have is the homemade porchetta. Bite into their bao stuffed with Buccia Made porchetta, wild misticanza, sweet and sour sauce and ginger mayonnaise, follow it up with noodles whipped in a cream of grilled onions and buffalo sausage, wash it all down with a good bottle of wine and you’ll be happy. In fact, overjoyed.