Rome is in full swing for the holidays. The lights are hung on Via del Corso and Christmas trees now stand in St Peter’s Square and Piazza Venezia. If you should find yourself in the eternal city for the holidays, it’s not too late to make your reservations for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
First a primer on how, what and when Italians eat during the holidays.
The biggest and most important meals are enjoyed on Christmas eve (la Vigilia di Natale) and on New Year’s eve (Capodanno). Fish is usually the theme of the evening meal on the 24th of December. And an Italian Christmas feast would never be complete without a nice big slice of panettone. Meanwhile Italians traditionally ring in the New Year with lentils and cotechino (pork sausage).
Because it is common to eat out on these days restaurants fill up quickly, so book in advance!
That being said, often times eateries are closed on Christmas day and New Year’s day, or close up shop all together. So check out our list of restaurants which will be open for your eating pleasure.
Asiatique (Piazza del Popolo)
Rome’s newest Asian fusion hot spot will be open for lunch on Christmas and New Year’s eve. Don’t miss the crispy rice with Wagyu beef tartare and the salmon carpaccio marinated in beetroot with guacamole and mango.
Asiatique – Largo della Fontanella di Borghese, 86/a – Tel. +39 0669330441
Al Ceppo (Parioli)
Open Christmas day for lunch and dinner also December 26th. New Year’s eve for dinner. Especially cozy during winter months due to their wood-burning fireplace which is also where they grill their prime meats. Pastas and wine are exceptional.
Al Ceppo – Via Panama, 2 – Tel. +39 068419696
Cul de Sac (Piazza Navona)
A wine bar around the corner from the beautiful Saint Agnes church. Open only on January 1st with a solid wine list and delicious charcutrie platters.
Enoteca Cul de Sac – Piazza di Pasquino, 73 – Tel. +39 0668801094
Pizzeria Emma (Campo de’ Fiori)Some of the best pizza in Rome but pastas, salads and other dishes available. Open for lunch on Christmas eve, Dec. 26th for dinner, New Year’s eve only for lunch but open on New Year’s day for both lunch and dinner.
Pizzeria Emma – Via del Monte della Farina, 28 – Tel. +39 0664760475
Beautiful, traditional, delicious. Classic Italian holiday meals like a Christmas eve fish feast then the day after a Roman meat orgy for our favorite carnivores. Also open on New Year’s eve.
Marzapane – Via Velletri, 39 tel. + 39 0664781692
Here’s a Michelin-starred chef and artist re-inventing dishes based on tried-and-true Italian classics. Open on December 26th and New Year’s eve. Take a look at their impressive tasting menu.
Metamorfosi – Via Giovanni Antonelli, 30 – Tel. +39 068076839
Nonna Betta (Jewish Quarter)
Roman Jewish cuisine specializing in fried carciofi alle giudia artichokes and kosher twists on classic cucina romana including pasta dishes. Umberto, Betta’s grandson, and his family are there to greet you and make you feel like you’re home. Closed Tuesday.
Nonna Betta – Via del Portico D’Ottavia, 16 – Tel. +39 0668806263
Salumeria Roscioli (Campo de’ Fiori)
Known for its spectacular spaghetti carbonara and delicious cured meats. Open Christmas eve for lunch. Their Christmas sweet bread, panettone, is a must! You can always check it out at their bakery around the corner.
Salumeria Roscioli – Via dei Giubbonari, 21/22 – Tel. +39 066875287
Tram Tram (San Lorenzo)
As a starter their fried anchovies are to die for. After, there’s top-notch raw beef tartare or delicious sautéed mussels. An amazing wine list covers the whole peninsula. Open for Christmas Day lunch and New Year’s eve dinner, as well as New Year’s day lunch and dinner.
Tram Tram – Via dei Reti, 44 – Tel. +39 06490416
If you really want to make your holidays bright with a special meal check out these fixed-price menus at some of Rome’s upscale restaurants.
Antico Arco (Janiculum Hill)
This elegant restaurant will be open for both lunch and dinner around the holidays. For New Year’s Eve they are preparing a special 8-course surf ‘n turf meal (230 euros), including a bottle of champagne. For those who would like to watch the fireworks from the nearby Piazza Garibaldi, the restaurant is providing to-go champagne flutes so you can toast under the stars and sparklers.
Antico Arco – Piazzale Arco 7 – Tel. +39 065815274
Open Colonna (Quirinal Hill)
Located on the roof of the Palazzo delle Esposizioni, this modern restaurant will be serving a lunch buffet throughout the holiday period. On New Year’s Eve they will roll out a 9-course meal and wine pairing (290 euros), which will include pumpkin gnocchi, as well as lobster. Several courses will highlight the wines of the Piedmont region. Click HERE for their New Year’s Eve menu.
Open Colonna – Via Milano 9/A, +39 0647822641
Bistrot 64 (Flaminio)
If you are interested in fusion cooking, check out which offers a creative mix of Asian and Italian cuisine. Check out their fish-based fixed menu on Christmas eve for 60 euros and their New Year’s eve bash for 140 euros. The restaurant will be closed on December 25 and 26, and then again on January 1 and 2. Click HERE For their complete menu.
Bistrot 64 – Via Guglielmo Calderini 64 – Tel. + 39 063235531
While all these openings have been confirmed, it is always best to call to confirm and make a reservation.
Elizabeth Simari teaches Italian culinary history and wine seminars at American universities across Rome. Also a sommelier, journalist and translator, she can often be found in the kitchen with a pile of Italian cookbooks and magazines, replicating traditional recipes or discovering little-known indigenous grapes at an enoteca in the Eternal City.