Rome has one of the best street-life scenes in Italy, and dining at a sidewalk table while watching the world go by is a unique pleasure in the Eternal City. That said, there are times that even the most ardent fan of Italy’s capital needs a break from the street-level heat and bustle…especially after a long day of sightseeing elbow-to-elbow with what can seem like (and probably is) millions of visitors from across the globe.
We often recommend that our clients book at least one dinner at one of the many rooftop restaurants in Rome, both as a way to enjoy the romantic atmosphere of a bird’s-eye perch as the sun goes down and as an escape from the relentless pace of the city. Everything just seems quieter and more relaxed a few hundred feet above the scooter-filled streets below.
There was a time when the only way you could dine above the city was by booking a table at an expensive (and often waiting-list-only) Michelin-starred restaurant, which is great for die-hard foodies but not so ideal for anyone who doesn’t want to spend four hours over dinner. There has been a recent explosion in rooftop restaurants (and aperitivo bars), however, so now the selection, while still leaning towards the elegant, doesn’t necessarily have to bust your travel budget.
Here are our favorite rooftop restaurants in Rome to keep in mind for a summer (May through September) visit:
This is probably one of the rooftop restaurants in Rome we book the most often for its mix of accessibility—both geographically and economically. While it’s definitely a fine-dining establishment, it’s not over-the-top gourmet and the prices are solidly in the “a nice dinner out” range. It’s set just above Piazza Navona (it is accessed via the five-star Eitch Borromini, though it is not part of the hotel), so easy walking distance from almost any hotel in Rome’s historic center. There is a separate rooftop bar area for an aperitivo, if you’d like the same fabulous view but aren’t up for an entire dinner. The only fly in your high-altitude Chardonnay is the difficulty booking…our experience is that it takes multiple phone calls to even get someone to answer and the tables are often already booked out by then.
Set above the five-star Sofitel Villa Borghese hotel (you’ll find a running theme here, as most of Rome’s rooftop bars and restaurants occupy the top floor of hotels), this is a place we like for a special occasion meal. Since it’s set a bit farther away from the fray in Rome’s historic center, the vibe is very relaxed and romantic…and the view is spectacular, stretching across the canopy of green that is Rome’s historic Villa Borghese park to the rooftops beyond. Though the location is walking distance from the Spanish Steps, it’s a challenging uphill climb all the way and definitely not something you want to tackle in heels and an LBD. Take a taxi.
The good news here is that this gourmet restaurant above the five-star Raphael Hotel has a dazzling view of some of Rome’s most iconic domes and the rooftop is set on a series of multi-level terraces, making for a particularly intimate setting. The bad news (for some) is that Mater Terrae is a vegan restaurant, which may not be everyone’s bag. We have eaten there and the food is spectacular, but meat-and-cheese loyalists may want to opt to stop by for an aperitivo here before dinner and then head down to street level for a heaping dish of carbonara for dinner.
When clients want an unusual view or a rooftop dinner without too much pomp and circumstance, we book them at the 47 Circus Roof Garden above the Fortyseven Hotel. This more casual restaurant overlooks the exceptional Roman ruins of the Forum Boario and Church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin (home to the Bocca della Verità., Mouth of Truth, made famous in the film “Roman Holiday”). One of the city’s best-kept secrets, this restaurant serves modern dishes inspired by Roman classics without too much fuss.
We often have clients beginning or ending private tours of the Colosseum and Roman right at the lunch or dinner hour and we need to get them to a table fast to stave off the hangries. A favorite spot for after a late afternoon tour is this rooftop restaurant just steps from the city’s top ancient sites. Part of the five-star NH Collection Roma Fori Imperiali, this chic eater overlooks the Vittoriano and Imperial Forums…both of which are particularly atmospheric lit after sunset. The menu is limited (though there is always a fish, a meat, and a vegetarian option for each course) but solid and you can opt for a tasting or a la carte options.
Campo de’ Fiori
The five-star Hotel Indigo St. George is one of our go-to hotels for Rome, both for its whimsical rooms inspired by the iconic Fiat 500 and for its lovely position along one of the city’s prettiest streets. So it comes as no surprise that we also like the rooftop restaurant, set a bit away from the buzz of the heart of the historic center but with a charming view of residential rooftops framed by soaring cupolas. The terrace here also doubles as a cocktail bar for pre- or post-dinner drinks if you don’t want to commit to dinner.
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