First things first: the word bar means something slightly different in Italy.
You are going to see signs all over town that say Bar. You absolutely can get a glass of wine or a spritz in a bar, but they serve a slightly different function. The Italian bar is more cafe than tavern and they are usually open from early morning until night. Bars serve coffee and pastries for breakfast, then sandwiches at lunchtime and then coffee again in the late afternoon. For a fancy cocktail or nice bottle of wine, we think that these are 6 of the best bars in Rome.
Insiders Tip: Aperitivo is a good word to know if you are looking for a drink and a snack before dinner.
1. San Calisto
Bar San Calisto (Piazza di San Calisto, 3) is a little but scruffy, but has a heart of gold. This is very much a neighborhood bar. It is open from early in the morning serving coffee with shots of grappa and warm cornetti to potato chips and late night negronis. The large outside terrace has seating. This bar is always busy and on warm summer nights the crowd spills out into the piazza. Some nights there is informal live music inside.
You can perch on stools on the street or reserve a table inside at Fafiuche (Via della Madonna dei Monti, 28), a popular neighborhood wine shop. Check the blackboard for the always changing list of wines by the glass. The choices focus on small Italian producers, particularly from Piedmont and Puglia where the owners are from and some natural wines. There is a small selection of craft beers. The aperitivo buffet is hearty enough that you can probably skip dinner with hot and cold choices. The shelves are filled with bottles of wine that you can drink on the spot or buy to take home. Any space not taken up by wine is filled with jars of jam, bars of chocolate and all for sale.
3. Blackmarket Hall
Live music and a creative cocktail menu make this spot on a small street in Monti worth seeking out. Blackmarket Hall’s cozy atmosphere is spread out with a small bar on the street level and another bar downstairs with a performance space. Keep exploring and you will find a couple of small rooms with comfy velvet sofas and an outside garden space. If you like spice try the Maui Hot Chicken made with tequila, mezcal, chili, black salt and lime. In the early evening try the aperitivo plate of mini burgers, pecorino cheese and prosciutto. The kitchen is open late for hungry night owls. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options here.
4. Drink Kong
Patrick Pistolesi is an Irish-Italian who has been mixing some of Rome’s best cocktails for over a decade has finally opened a place of his own. Drink Kong’s vibe is part 1980’s video game part minimalist Japanese aesthetic. There are cocktail classics or for the adventurous book a spot in the back room and experience one of Patrick’s secret creations based on elements like bitter, sour or sweet. The food choices range from small plates of dumplings to bao to tacos.
5. VyTA Enoteca Regionale del Lazio
Did you know that Rome is located in the region of Lazio? VyTA, a stylish bar and restaurant in the middle of Rome’s shopping district is a partnership with the region and restauranteur Nicolò Marzotto. The food and wine served put a spotlight on the best ingredients and producers in Lazio. If your palette skews bitter you will love the Vyta 185km made with locally produced, gin, vermouth and gentian liquor. Sit at the copper bar for a quick drink and a plate of cured meats and cheese or settle into a jade green velvet seat for a bottle of Cesanese wine and a Amatriciana suppli, a deep fried rice ball mixed with a tomato, guanciale and pecorino cheese.
Located around the corner from the Fontana di Trevi, Baccano’s long zinc bar offers refuge from the busy streets outside. There is an extensive wine list of by the glass and bottle choices with an emphasis on Italian producers. Cocktails like the Bernini made with francicorte, mango and each puree will please the sweet tooth and an Oyster martini served with a freshly shucked oyster from the selection flown in daily from France. Aperitivo is offered from 18:00 to 20:30 and includes a glass of wine or a spritz and a plate of hot snacks.