Garbatella is a working class neighborhood in south Rome situated near Via Ostiense, a boulevard that was built in the 1920s connecting the city to the beaches of Ostia. It’s a former industrial area that is now known for one of the best public universities–Roma Tre–which is located there. The youthful spirit of the students as well as low rents have brought many artists and trendy night spots but the old-school places are still there. It’s also a great spot to eat and drink well on a budget.

Garbatella neighborhood in Rome

Historically Garbatella has ties not only to the workers who live there (politically it’s a stonghold for the left) but to Roman cinema and literature: the child actor in Vittorio De Sica’s film The Bicycle Thief was born there, Pier Paolo Pasolini wrote his novel A Violent Life set there and more recently director Nanni Moretti shot footage in the ‘hood for his award-winning film Dear Diary.

Here we focus on the food and wine in Garbatella but also its spirit–both young and old–that is 100% Roman. Join us for a glass of wine or a simple, delicious meal in one of the neighborhood restaurants.

La Mescita in Rome

Enoteca La Mescita

La Mescita is a wine bar that also has a small menu. It’s right in the heart of Garbatella situated across the street from an important piece of early 20th-century Roman architecture, the Palladium theatre, which was designed by Innocenzo Sabbatini. Mescita specializes in natural and organic wines from all over Italy (Emidio Pepe from Abruzzo; Principiano from Piedmont; Arianna Occhipinti from Sicily for example) and they prepare fresh food on the spot. There is not a huge selection of edibles but the materie prime (ingredients) are high in quality and carefully chosen. The cheeses and salami are good and the famous cantabrico anchovies on buttered bread delicious, as well as the many vegetarian or vegan options like tortino di spinaci (spinach quiche), verza e caprino in sfoglia croccante (cabbage and goat cheese wrapped in crunchy phyllo), primosale in crosta con pere (fresh cream cheese with pears in a crispy crust), semi tostati e balsamico (toasted seeds with balsamic vinegar).

One of the main attractions of Mescita is the friendliness and expertise of the owner Angelo and his staff. Their goal is matching the right food and wine for their customers, adapting to tastes and budget. When you walk in it’s hard to distinguish who the customers and who the staff are since the servers seem to be enjoying themselves as much as the clients! They also offer courses and wine tasting events. Next door Angelo has a shop that sells fantastic craft beers.

Enoteca La Mescita
Via Luigi Fincati, 44
Tel. +39 333 301 5847
Open everyday from 6pm to midnight. On Friday & Saturday ’til 2:00 am
info@enotecalamescita.it

Dar Moschino in Rome

Trattoria Dar Moschino

Dar Moschino is a typical Roman trattoria that has been around for 40 years, located in one of the most beautiful squares of Garbatella, Piazza Benedetto Brin. The piazza looks out onto a pretty run-down park but it’s incredibly silent, removed from city traffic and in the summer there are tables outside.

The menu is very Roman with hand-cut prosciutto or a frittata as appetizers then for a first course you can choose really good primi: classic pastas like rigatoni alla gricia (guanciale–cured pig’s jowl–and sheep’s milk cheese); spaghetti alla carbonara; bucatini alla ‘matriciana; gnocchi; plus hearty pastas and legumes like pasta e fagioli (borlotti beans) and pasta e ceci (chick peas). Entrees feature polpette di bollito (fried meatballs made from stewed beef); tripe; picchiapò slow-cooked beef with veggies (a classic Roman dish); polpette al sugo (meatballs in tomato sauce); coniglio alla cacciatora (rabbit in wine, herb and olive sauce). Dar Moschino is very traditional and follows popular Rome tradition, serving different dishes on different days (Thursday is gnocchi day, Saturday it’s tripe). The desserts are all homemade and as tradition demands a caffè con la moka (brewed with a stovetop moka pot) ends the meal.

It’s an extremely good deal for the quality of food and part of its charm is the informal feel of the typical Roman trattoria: there are paintings and pictures of horses all around since Franco, the original owner, was passionate about the races. It’s now run by his three daughters. You can’t get more Roman than this!

Trattoria Dar Moschino
Piazza Benedetto Brin, 5
Tel. +39 06 513 9473
Open for lunch and dinner every day but Sunday

Bistrot Verde Pistacchio

Verde Pistacchio (Green Pistachio) is a bistrot on via Ostiense that is very close to the university. The philosophy behind this place is that healthy food and responsible drinking should be affordable to all, especially young people (there’s free Wi-Fi).

It uses only organic and local products boasting what in Italy is called ‘kilometer zero.’ Everyday the aziende agricole farms that collaborate with Verde Pistacchio bring in their produce and artisanal products, like cheese, so that the menu varies day-to-day according to what is available and in season. The menu has a fixed price (lunch is €8 and dinner €13) that is based on the concept of piatto unico: a complete meal of entree and a side dish that is the same for everyone. One can choose the entree amongst 2 vegan choices, one vegetarian and one fish option. There is an extensive wine list: 80% of the wine is ‘natural’ and the rest is organic. The beers are local, craft ones. There is also an interesting selection of fruit and vegetable juices as well as a list of vodkas and cocktails for evenings.

Bistrot Verde Pistacchio
Via Ostiense, 181
Tel. +39 06 4547 5965
Open Mon-Fri 10:00 am-2:00 am; Sat & Sun 5:00 pm-2:00 am

Garbatella neighborhood in Rome

Pizzeria er Panonto

Pizzeria er Panonto is another Garbatella classic. This is a Roman-style pizza joint that bakes thin crust pies in a wood burning oven. It’s a busy, family-owned pizzeria and it’s always packed. The pizzas are the classic Margherita, Fiori di Zucca, Sausage and Broccoli, Quattro Formaggi, etc, and are served fast so there’s a very quick turnover. While their main offerings are bruschetta and pizza there also is a big buffet table of antipasti with a wide selection of vegetables. Beverages include beer on tap or bulk wine from the nearby Castelli Romani, the largest wine-producing region near Rome. It’s a great place to go for a quick bite and stays open late. Warning: this is not a place for a romantic dinner! The best part is the garden area open during summer months.

Pizzeria er Panonto
Via Enrico Cavero, 10
Tel. +39 06 513 5022

Garbatella neighborhood in Rome

Il Ristoro degli Angeli

Ristoro degli Angeli is in the heart of Garbatella. It’s a small, refined restaurant with a cosy, home-like interior. Every chair is different (including beautiful 19th-century Art Nouveau-style seats) and outdoor spots where people hang out with a glass of wine while waiting for a table. It’s always packed so book a table in advance. The owners are Elisabetta and Ivo. Elisabetta is famous for her green hair so the restaurant is known among Garbatella locals as ‘capelli verdi’ meaning green hair!

The menu is made up of traditional Roman dishes as well as more sophisticated, innovative ones that vary daily. The bread is homemade and so are the desserts. On Fridays and Saturdays–the best days for fresh fish–there is fish soup. Il Ristoro degli Angeli is set up in typical Roman style so you can choose an antipasto, a primo (pasta starter), a secondo (entree), a contorno (side dish) then a dolce. But, they also have an offer of a piatto unico balanced with carbs, protein and vegetables. There is a very good selection of wines focusing on locals from Lazio. Their after-dinner grappas are legendary and as an extra they organize tours of the neighborhood with dinner included plus nights with live music.

Il Ristoro degli Angeli
Via Luigi Orlando, 2
Tel. +39 06 5143 6020
Open for dinner Mon-Sat from 7:30 pm to 11:30 pm and lunch on Saturday. Closed Sundays.

Interested in touring off the beaten track neighborhoods in Rome? Check out all our Rome Eating Adventures.