Rome’s Alternative Side
It’s safe to say that the average tourist doesn’t make it to the San Lorenzo neighborhood. Things aren’t exactly well-marked, and if you aren’t familiar with Tram 3 you might never make it to the heart of this lively quarter. But, as any true Eternal City explorer knows, that doesn’t mean it should be skipped. Just because it doesn’t have the monuments to prove it, doesn’t mean that San Lorenzo isn’t seeped in history like the rest of Rome, which is why we’ve created a guide to help you navigate the hidden gems of this area for an excellent night out. Originally a working class neighborhood that was bombed heavily during World War II, the area rebuilt itself quickly and has become a lively spot and cultural hub for emerging artists and students from La Sapienza university. The neighborhood feels like a mix of Berlin and Naples, where artistic rebirth and youthful energy flow out onto the streets for locals and visitors to enjoy endless nights of good food and company.
RESTAURANTS / EATING in SAN LORENZO
Piazzale del Verano, 90
Open Tues-Sun, 1pm-2.30pm; 8pm-11pm
Kiko’s head chef Atsufumi Kikuchi has 37 years of experience working in the industry, including a period of time in NYC. This restaurant of typical Japanese design has a menu that offers a traditional sushi bar with sashimi as well as a few special items that combine some classic Italian flavors with Japanese cuisine, such as carpaccio with truffle oil.
Pastificio San Lorenzo
Via Tiburtina, 196
Open Mon-Fri, 12.30noon-3pm, 8pm-11.30pm; Sat 8pm-11.30pm
This locale encompasses the spirit of the neighborhood by making it possible to choose between an aperitivo, a full meal, or just a cocktail all within the same space. Previously an old-school pastificio, or pasta making school, the place has become more modern, mixing together themes of New York, Paris and Rome. All cocktails are made in house with special attention to ingredients – our current favorite is the Caribbean Candy (rum, candied ginger, and homemade ginger, vanilla, and cinnamon syrups).
La Mucca Bischera
Via degli Equi, 56
Open daily, 7pm-1am
Facebook page: La Mucca Bischera
The word on the street is that this place has exceptional carne, or red meat dishes, and also happens to offer classic Roman recipes with savory, seasonal sides. Not only that, but they also serve up delicious house-made pizzas and desserts. Known for its informal, family-friendly atmosphere, Mucca Bischera is the neighborhood joint for a classic, hearty meal.
Via dei Sabelli, 32
Open daily, 12.30pm-12.30am
Facebook Page: Ferrovecchio
It’s no wonder Ferrovecchio has a modern warehouse feel to it, as its name comes from its pasty identity as an iron recycling post. The main draw of this restaurant is the hamburgers, of which there are 13 listed on the menu, including one vegetarian option, all served with potato chips fried to crisp perfection. When you walk in, the bar is the first thing you’ll see with beers on tap and a spacious dining area to your left.
Soul Kitchen: La Cucina dell’Anima
Via dei Sabelli, 193
Open Tues-Sun, 5pm-2am
A cozy spot a few minutes walk from the main bustle of the neighborhood, Soul Kitchen caters to the senses, with live music events and a menu rich in vegetarian options. This low-key yet popular spot often fills up quickly as guests take advantage of its rich menu of Pugliese style food and fresh vegetable aperitivo offerings.
SAID dal 1923: Antica Fabbrica del Cioccolato
Via Tiburtina, 135
Open Mon 6.30pm-12.30am; Tues-Thurs, 10am-12.30am; Fri-Sat, 10am-1.30am; Sun 10am-12am
Tucked a bit away off of Via Tiburtina, SAID is an ancient chocolate factory from the 1920s that has evolved into a bistro. It serves lunch and dinner while still offering many take-away chocolate delicacies such as cakes, bars, and spreads. You can also have a seat and enjoy a decadent cup of their legendary hot chocolate.
Via dei Reti, 46
Open Tues-Sun, 12.30pm-3pm; 7.30pm-11pm
Its name comes from its proximity to the tram tracks that run right outside its front door on Via dei Reti. Started more than 25 years ago by the Di Vittorio family, this neighborhood tavern mixes Pugliese seafood with classic Roman cuisine. The interior is typical of old Roman restaurants with slatted wood benches, embroidered curtains, and charming tables, keeping tradition alive in an ever-changing neighborhood.
Via Tiburtina, 6
Open daily, 11am-1pm
The new Gelato San Lorenzo has recently emerged like a breath of fresh air in a neighborhood filled with student bars and burger joints. Its clean, Stanford white interior and high, brick vaulted ceiling cool you down before you’ve even dipped into your icy dessert. Their main focus is to create a model of pure gelato, free of the added, unnatural substitutes that are often used to give gelato its taste, sweetness and consistency.
BARS / DRINKING in SAN LORENZO
Black Market San Lorenzo
Via dei Sardi, 50
Open daily, 4.30pm-2am
Even though it’s a bit smaller than its counterpart in Monti, this mixology bar is no less dedicated to music and art exhibitions. In fact, every Friday and Saturday night at 9pm, Black Market is the venue for a live music show. In addition to great cocktails, teas, smoothies and desserts, they also have a dinner menu as well as free Wi-Fi.
Via degli Equi, 29
Open daily, 6pm-1.30am
Facebook Page: Officine Beat
This spot with hip, recycled décor and funky furniture from the 70s is divided into two parts: one area is a bar dedicated to craft beers on tap and a variety of imports by the bottle, while the other is meant for dining off their menu of panini, pastas and vegetable sides. There is also a generous list of spirits and a special drink menu which can be ordered with an aperitivo for €8.
Via di Porta Labicana, 24
Open daily, 9pm-2am
Le Mura has live music every night from up-and-coming artists in the area. Although the genre of music changes, one thing stays the same: there are never cover bands, always original material. After the artists finish playing, the stage room turns into a dance floor where audiences party late into the night. There is also a room to relax and play pool or read a book from the bookshelves.
La Conventicola degli Ultramoderni
Via Di Porta Labicana, 32
Open Wed-Thurs, 9pm-4am; Fri-Sat,10pm-5am
Facebook page: laconventicoladegliultramoderni
With their Conventicola degli Ultramoderni, “Mirkaccio” and “Madame De Freitas” have lit a fire under Rome’s bar scene, carrying a style that can best be described as vaudeville meets variety show meets café chantant. Hosting about a dozen, vastly different artists each night, along with the occasional burlesque performance, this venue is like nowhere else in Rome.
Giufà Libreria Caffè
Via degli Aurunci, 38
Open Mon-Sun, 10am-12midnight; Fri-Sat, 10am-1am; Sun 3pm-11pm
This bookstore/coffee shop has a charming interior with black and white checkered floors and walls lined with bookshelves. “Giufà” is a character from Italian folklore whose job is to provide a moral message. The café began in 2005 with the goal of creating a space to promote independent literature which it does to this day. You can choose from coffee, wine, or cocktails and a list of snacks while you enjoy some indie literature.
Piazzale del Verano, 71
Open Tues-Sun, 6.30pm-2am
The creators of Marmo are three friends who wanted a hip hangout with careful attention paid to the culinary details. Apart from delivering live music and vegetarian and gluten-free options, Marmo stands out by offering a dopo cena or midnight snack menu of crostini, mini-sandwiches, and mixed salami and cheese platters. Don’t Miss “Spaghetti Unplugged” OpenMic every Sunday.
STREET ART in SAN LORENZO
Recognized as one of Rome’s art districts, San Lorenzo is home to students and street art; from Via dei Volsci to Via degli Enotri and a collective wall through Via degli Ausoni, there is much to be seen. It houses the works of many famous international street artists including a block-long mural by Alice Pasquini. This area is also home to the work of French artist Christian Guémy aka C215; the Italian artists SOLO, Unga, and The Broken Fingaz Crew; and ABOVE, a Californian, Berlin-based artist who like Banksy has chosen to hide his identity. Despite being home to so many well known painters, the playful
nature of San Lorenzo has made it into a fertile ground for Roman artists to constantly use its walls as their ever-changing canvas.
(text by Raha Shirazi)