Testaccio: The Real Rome
Testaccio may not be Rome’s prettiest neighborhood, but its rich history more than makes up for it. In antiquity, the district was home to the Emporium port, where the bulk of the Romans’ food supply funneled into the city. Olive oil, grains, and other essential foodstuffs arrived in terracotta vessels called amphorae, and once emptied were disposed of in an outdoor dumpsite. The ancient Monte dei Cocci, or Monte Testaccio hill, composed of around 53 million broken amphorae, still looms today. Centuries later, Testaccio housed Europe’s biggest abattoir, giving rise to rustic, Roman dishes like trippa alla romana and oxtail stew. It was in this neighborhood that the city’s beloved team, AS Roma, had their first football pitch, and where rowdy locals still gather to take in a match. Nowadays, Testaccio is hailed as a bastion of Roman culinary excellence, home to some of the Capital’s best eateries. We’ll take that over charming piazzas and cobblestoned streets any day.
THE TESTACCIO EXPERIENCE
Explore Rome’s street art on a Vespa
Via in Selci, 58
Duration: 3 hours
Witness incredible forgotten buildings and hidden walls flourish in color and drawings on this 3-hour street art tour of Rome on the back of a Vespa.
Piramide & Cimitero inglese
Check out the Pyramid of Cestius, an ancient Egyptian style pyramid; and the non-Catholic cemetery of Rome, the final resting place of famous artists such as Shelley and Keats.
Get a taste of Roman culinary culture & tradition with Eating Italy’s food tour: Taste of Testaccio.
A fantastic neighbourhood to get a taste of traditional Roman cuisine: from cacio e pepe pasta to polpette di bollito.
Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4
Once the biggest slaughter house in Europe, it now houses a museum and the Città dell’Altra Economia.
RESTAURANTS / EATING IN TESTACCIO
Via Marmorata, 39
Thur – Tue 12.30pm-3pm, Wed 7.30pm-11pm
Perilli has been around since the early 1900s and is a Roman institution. Simple, elegant, quiet and unpretentious is how this restaurant can be best described. The classic Roman primi: carbonara, amatriciana and gricia, as well as typical secondi: abbacchio al forno and coda alla vaccinara are always prepared with the care and attention that distinguishes Perilli.
Via Alessandro Volta, 47
Sun – Mon 11am-4pm, Tues-Sat 11am-11pm
If you’re searching for a blast from the past, Taverna Volpetti offers ageless Roman specialties. Opened over four decades ago, it’s the perfect place for a quick meal with salami tastings and whole legs of prosciutto freshly cut to your liking matched with assorted cheeses, or a proper sit-down dinner with ingredients that bring back ancient flavours.
Via Mastro Giorgio, 29
Daily 12.30pm-3pm, 7pm-11.30pm
Every dish ordered from Da Felice’s menu is like a love story. Every bite augments your feelings towards that recipe, just like loving a person more and more each day. Let your gustatory perception interpret the same experience as kissing someone for the first time after wanting to do it for so long. Once you have that last forkful of creamy tonnarelli cacio e pepe, nothing can be compared to it.
Osteria Fratelli Mori
Via dei Conciatori, 10
Mon – Sun 12.30pm-2.30pm, 7.30pm-11.30pm, Sat 7.30pm-11.30pm
Inspired by traditional Roman cuisine, Osteria Fratelli Mori embraces passion and tradition by cherry picking most of the ingredients from the respectful Testaccio market. Recipes handed down have been travelling hand in hand to create dishes like spaghetti alla carbonara, tonnarelli cacio e pepe and trippa alla romana, all customized and signed by the family’s cooks.
Via Marmorata, 47
Open Mon-Sat, 8.30am-2pm, 5pm-8pm
Opened over four decades ago, Volpetti is hands down the reigning king of Rome’s gourmet food scene. Red wine infused salami, black and white truffles, whole legs of prosciutto, a cheese collection so beautiful that it’ll make any decent foodie well up with happy tears, fresh pasta, extra virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar, and international favourites like pata negra, Roquefort, and Scottish salmon crowd the counters.
Piazza Santa Maria della Liberatrice, 44
Open Mon-Sat, 7pm-1am
Unlike its more voluptuous cousin in Naples, Roman-style pizza has a super thin, crispy crust, a vestige of WWII, when ingredients were sparse and dough was rolled as flat as possible to produce more than one pie. The pizzas at Da Remo – wood oven fired and scrocchiarella (extra crunchy) – make that long, inevitable wait in line worth it. Outside seating is available in the warmer months.
Flavio al Velavevodetto
Via di Monte Testaccio, 47
Daily 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7.45pm-11pm
This popular osteria is carved inside the neighborhood’s man made mound of ancient amphoras. Just as spectacular as its location is Flavio’s authentic, no-frills Roman cuisine: try their tonnarelli cacio e pepe (square cut noodles with pecorino cheese and black pepper), coda alla vaccinara (oxtail stew), polpette di bollito (fried meatballs), and award-winning rigatoni alla carbonara (pasta in a sauce of egg yolk, pecorino, pork cheek, and black pepper).
Via Giovanni Branca, 88
Open Tues-Sun, 12pm-1am
Experience the city’s latest street food craze with a visit to Trapizzino. The eatery gets its name from its signature dish, the trapizzino, a triangular pocket of fluffy pizza dough stuffed with the fillings of your choice. Permanent offerings on the menu include classics like eggplant parmesan, chicken cacciatore, and meatballs in tomato sauce. Others, such as burrata with anchovies, octopus, oxtail, marinated artichokes and alternate weekly.
Fraschetta di Mastrogiorgio
Via Alessandro Volta, 36
Open daily, 12:30pm-3pm, 8pm-1am
Inspired by the fraschette, or traditional taverns of the Roman countryside, Mastrogiorgio serves up rustic, laziale fare. Go with a group and split some of the menu’s appetizers, like pecorino aged in fig leaves, crispy rosemary roasted pork, called porchetta, and marinated artichoke hearts, before moving on to your main course.
Via Galvani, 24a
Wed-Mon 12.30pm-3pm, 6pm-2am, Tue 6pm-2am
Carnivores should check out the Testaccio branch (there’s one near the Trevi fountain, too) of this cozy restaurant whose niche is meat dishes. Diners typically come here for the bistecca fiorentina, Chianina steak, Angus beef, Kobe beef, or lamb chops, but plenty of pasta, fish, and pizzas round out the menu for those seeking an alternative option.
Via Aldo Manuzio, Via Beniamino Franklin, Via Alessandro Volta & Via Lorenzo Ghiberti
Mon-Sat 7am – 3.30pm
Try fresh produce at this local food market. Hop from box to box, eating standing up and at the bar counters, or get food from different stalls and sit at the central seating area. From classic Roman dishes at Food Box, Le Mani in Pasta and Mordi e Vai to healthy options at Zoè, Mercato Testaccio is the perfect place for a lazy foodie day out with the locals.
Via Giovanni da Empoli, 37 (Ostiense)
Tue-Thur 8am-5.30pm, Fri-Sat 9am-11pm, Sun 9am-5pm
Think avocado on crusty bread, pliant cinnamon buns, a green shake, or three-grain porridge, served in an airy sun-filled restaurant. In the shadow of the Gasometro, not far from Piramide, Sofie Wochner and her partner Domenico Cortese opened such a place, offering variations on locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients that mix Sofie’s Danish heritage with Domenico’s Calabrian roots.
BARS / DRINKING IN TESTACCIO
Via Marmorata, 13
With Tram Depot you’ll experience the memorable tram ride that transports people not with four wheels but with countless drinks. Enjoy the Testaccio neighbourhood by sitting on the garden’s retro chairs and sipping tropical cocktails or fresh beers. Just pop by after dinner or after a long walk around the Eternal City.
Piazza dell’Emporio, ½
The real chefs-d’oeuvre of Rec23 are cocktails prepared with homemade mixings by their bartenders. If you love your sweets, try the Amaro Sour cocktail – the Amaro Angostura and the Lemon give it a spicy taste while the sugar, egg white and China Martini leave you with a sweet aftertaste. If you prefer the more classic cocktails, go for the Testaccio Mule.
Stazione di Posta
Largo Dino Frisullo, 1
Wed – Mon 7pm-2am
“Stazione” is literally translated to “station”. And as in every station, people come and go, very few by chance. The secret behind their glass doors framed by iron bars with a mix of modern and old school furniture is to make passengers stop by to drink with style organic or classic wines, cocktails and beers while leaving one place to go to another right after.
Makai Surf & Tiki bar
Via dei Magazzini Generali, 4a/b/c
Mon 8pm – 3am, Tue-Thur & Sun 7pm-2am, Fri-Sat 7pm-3am
The journey starts at the Makai Surf bar, which resembles a day as a surfer. Once you’re done surfing the waves, it’s the perfect place to relax with a Californian-style drink. Now imagine a tropical paradise, that’s the Makai Tiki bar. Travel through a secret door and taste cocktails with tropical flavours, be enchanted by the dancing performances and get lost to the sound of exotic music.
Via Galvani, 24
Daily 11am – 3pm
Tucked inside Monte Testaccio, this minimalist risto-bar is a great spot for aperitivo, an Italian ritual composed of a drink and finger food to stave off pre-dinner hunger. All dishes served are made with organic ingredients and are waistline friendly (think bulgur, couscous, and roasted veggies), but locals come here for Ketumbar’s vast drink selection, including wine, artisanal beers, and a slew of creative cocktails. Aperitivo begins at 6:30.
Via di Monte Testaccio, 33
Daily 7am-3pm, 6pm-2am
While this lounge bar is surprisingly open at breakfast time, its busiest hours are after sunset, when locals unwind with a fresh, fruit-based cocktail (try their strawberry mojito). If you’re planning a night out on a Friday or Saturday, be sure to book a table in advance. Live bands and music are also a common occurrence here – head to 33’s website to learn who’s playing when.
On the Rox
Via Galvani, 54
Mon-Sat 7.30pm-6am, Sun 9pm-5am
A popular destination for late-night partiers (last call is at 5am), On the Rox’s signature features include beer barrels that serve as tables, and a 35 foot long bar, which means you won’t have to wait very long for a refill. If you prefer a more relaxed atmosphere, come here earlier in the evening for a cocktail on their outdoor patio.
Oasi della Birra
Piazza Testaccio, 38/41
Mon-Sat 7am-1am, Sun 6pm-1am
During the day this family-run store operates as a delicatessen, but from 4:30pm on it transforms into a chill, laid-back spot for drinks. An impressive selection of wines are available, but Oasis della Birra (Beer Oasis) specializes in, you guessed it, beer. Italian and international brands (including six pages dedicated to Belgian names) as well as around a dozen on tap options make ordering here a delightfully dizzying task.
NIGHTLIFE IN TESTACCIO
Via di Monte Testaccio
Testaccio is easily the city’s nightclub district, with many hot spots carved inside the ancient Monte dei Cocci hill. Locales are also conveniently found on the same via, or street, which makes club hopping a breeze.If you’re looking to hit the dance floor, check out Akab (Via di Monte Testaccio 69), or Villaggio Globale (Via di Monte Testaccio, 22). Caffe Latino (Via di Monte Testaccio, 96) spins Latin beats, L’Alibi (Via di Monte Testaccio, 40/44) attracts a mixed straight and LGBT crowd, and Caruso Caffe (Via di Monte Testaccio, 36) is known for its late-night salsa and merengue. Most clubs open at 11pm and many are closed Sunday. Check their websites for details!
MUST-SEE IN TESTACCIO
Mattatoio (ex MACRO Testaccio)
Piazza Orazio Giustiniani, 4
Open Tues-Sun, 02:00pm-08:00pm
Once the biggest abattoir in all of Europe, Rome’s former mattatoio, or slaughterhouse, officially shut its doors in the 1970s. Happily, the grounds are still utilized today: a music school and a university architecture faculty call the space home, as does the second branch of the MACRO, Rome’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Officially opened in 2002, the museum still retains vestiges of its past (meat hooks hang at its entrance) and features a constant rotation of contemporary art exhibits with an emphasis on up-and-coming artists.
Città Dell’Altra Economia
Largo Dino Frisullo
Open Tues-Sun, 7:30am-12midnight
Also found on the grounds of the former abattoir is Citta dell’Altra Economia, a sprawling complex dedicated exclusively to organic and fair-trade products. There’s a little bit of everything here: a coffee bar, restaurant, market, shops, exhibition spaces, and occasional cultural events like this year’s street food festival all make for a lively atmosphere. While the space is open until midnight, hours of its locales vary – check their website for more information.