The Pantheon is at the (metaphorical) center of everything in Rome. Here’s how you can eat your way around it (and of course, end with a gelato in Piazza della Rotonda, perched on the Fontana del Pantheon.)
Much like Audrey Hepburn in “Roman Holiday,” you too can gallivant around the Pantheon drinking champagne and caffè freddo (though preferably not together). Though the G. Rocca cafe where Audrey sat with Gregory Peck is no longer there, never fear, because choices still abound.
This close to the Pantheon, you’ll want to be wary of tourist traps, so in the words of Dr. Seuss, “step with care and great tact.” And by that we mean, step with some recommendations!
The following guide to where to eat near the Pantheon will take you through all the important phases of a meal. The first three are restaurants, then we have a quick sandwich option, followed by the gelato course (arguably the most important), the all-important caffè, and then we wrap things up with a drink, complete with rooftop views!
1. Armando al Pantheon
On Salita dei Crescenzi 31 (the owners will proudly tell you they’re 60 steps from the Pantheon) you’ll find Armando, a classic of the Pantheon restaurants. The food is hearty, the pasta divine, the ambience cozy.
Like Da Fortunato below, this is traditional Roman cuisine (complete with specialty dishes only available on the day of the week tradition assigns to it), rife with gnocchi, carciofi and puntarelle (when in season). Get dessert (consider that a rule both throughout this article and throughout life).
2. Da Fortunato al Pantheon
You’re standing in front of the Pantheon, facing the fountain (really, live it with us here). You follow the street out of the piazza on the far right (via del Pantheon). And then, just there, on your right, you’ll find Da Fortunato, a traditional trattoria so delicious the incredible author Pat Conroy mentioned it several times in his writing (most notably in his novel “Beach Music,” partly set in Rome, and if you haven’t read it yet, finish reading this article and then go pick it up. Thank us later).
If it’s warm enough to sit outside, try to get a table facing the piazza and enjoy the view and the people-watching.
Ginger actually has two locations: one in Piazza Sant’Eustachio around the corner from the Pantheon, and one closer to Piazza di Spagna. Both enjoy the same menu and are a great modern alternative to traditional Italian fare: the restaurants are open all day and have options including açai bowls, fresh-squeezed juices, and healthy, organic lunch and dinner dishes.
Insider’s tip: One of their seasonal options is a summertime watermelon and mint juice. Get that one in the largest size possible, after a long walk—both Gingers boast stunning settings in some of Rome’s most beautiful, pedestrian-friendly areas.
4. Antica Salumeria
In the Pantheon’s piazza there is a little salumeria, or delicatessen, called Antica Salumeria. This is not just a sandwich shop—it’s the type of sandwich shop that makes you thank your lucky stars you stumbled across Italy. Have them make you a fresh sandwich (can we recommend pizza bianca, white pizza bread, con mortadella e mozzarella) and then take it out to the fountain, where you can sit and watch the world go by.
5. Cremeria Monteforte
This gelateria next to the Pantheon is where Audrey and Gregory were sitting in another lifetime. Without the tables and chairs, but with the same view, as our friend Travel Angel once put it! The gelato is delicious, and they always have great granita (like the slushy of your dreams) options.
One of the most famous gelato parlors in the city, Giolitti has been around since 1900 and is still owned and run by the Giolitti family. A three-minute walk from the Pantheon, this beautiful cafe is a great place to stop and sit during an afternoon of Roma wandering, and enjoy a gelato or a snack. It’s so popular that you can even buy a fast pass online to skip the line!
7 & 8. Tazza d’Oro & Sant’Eustachio: il caffè
Lucky for you, Pantheon explorer, two of our favorite spots for caffè in the city are in this neighborhood. Tazza d’Oro is just to the right when you’re standing in front of the Pantheon, and Sant’Eustachio is just out of the piazza to the left (conveniently in the same piazza as Ginger!)
Baffled by how to order coffee in Italian? Never fear—pop over this way for essential caffè vocab, and some other favorite options for this all-important beverage.
9. Grand Hotel de Minerve
Now that you’re full of good food, wine, espresso and gelato, it’s time for a cocktail with a view. The rooftop bar at the Minerve is exquisite and actually looks over the Pantheon from the piazza just behind it. Check out Bernini’s Elephant & Obelisk in Piazza della Minerva for a pre-dinner dash of culture, and then up you go!
Happy eating/drinking/exploring/loving, folks. Here’s to all the places that make our hearts soar, our feet tap, our tummies rejoice, and our minds kickstart or find peace, whichever you may be searching for. There. Beautiful and delicious.