Once my daughter decided that going to college in Rome sounded more appealing than spending four years in the wilderness of upstate New York or elsewhere, I started visiting the most major city in Italy. Not as a tourist; the Trevi Fountain with its zombies following the flag of the tour group gives me hives. Instead, I simplified my job in the Eternal City: find good wine bars, sit there and drink great wine.
For that, here are some suggestions. If you’re in Trastevere and interested in natural wines, skip the student bars (even my daughter avoids them) and head to Latteria Trastevere. This is where Italian culinary expert Katie Parla suggested we meet for a drink. As we sat at one of the small wooden tables outside, sipping a slightly funky but utterly refreshing Etna Rosato, I asked her why she loved Latteria so much. She responded with classic Katie candor: “Because in Trastevere it shines in a sea of mediocre options. More Antonio [the owner] imports cheeses from Barbagia, in eastern Sardinia, where he is from. You won’t find them anywhere else.”
A similar but slightly less natural recommendation about wine came to me from Italian food and wine editor Federico De Cesare Viola. One of his favorite places is Barnaba, in Testaccio. The area is trendy these days, with great people watching. We sat outside discussing important magazine business, like which wine to order next. The answer: a light and earthy Ciliegiolo from biodynamic Tuscan winemaker Fattoria di Caspri.
Closer to the city center, behind Campo de’ Fiori, don’t miss L’Angolo Divino. Massimo Crippa, the owner, has an encyclopedic knowledge of wine, which manifests in an equally encyclopedic wine list that ranges from obscure low-touch producers to classics and sought-after rarities. Inside it feels like you’ve stumbled into a real wine cellar, stone walls and all. I like to order the excellent cheese plate and then linger over the wine – most recently a bottle of Edoardo Valentini Cerasuolo, a wine effectively impossible to find in the US, and not much easier in Italy either .
Finally, a five-minute walk from L’Angolo is Salumeria Roscioli., which sits somewhere between a boutique (superb charcuterie and artisan cheeses), a wine bar, and a full restaurant. It is also a Mecca for wine lovers; I don’t know anyone in the wine world who regularly visits Rome who hasn’t been there. This is partly due to the food, which is sublime. Grab the house-made silky salame rosa with pickled veggies to nibble on as you peruse wine director Maurizio Paparello’s expertly chosen wine list, then dive into something deeply Roman, like a plate of the excellent rigatoni “la gricia” . And, of course, order more wine.