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Like all major European capitals, Rome’s touristy neighborhoods are hard to avoid or, sometimes, resist. After a journey of missed connections, jumbled travel directions and mangled language if you’re not an Italian speaker, it’s tempting to fall into a neighborhood like Trastevere, where English is widely spoken and familiar menu items can entice you to give in and settle for something comfortable.

But, don’t.

If you want to eat and drink like a Roman, get off the beaten track. Just across the river, the adjoining historically working-class neighborhoods of Testaccio and Ostiense have bloomed in the past decade, becoming destinations for more authentic eating and drinking. They’re no secret to the well-traveled set or frequent visitors to Rome, but you’ll see few fanny-packers, selfie sticks and white sneakers here. Take the subway (Metropolitana) to the Piramide stop and you’re pretty much in the center of things. One stop farther to Garbatella places you near other options in a historic, eccentrically designed neighborhood. By no means, exhaustive, here’s a starter kit for drinking like a Roman in these neighborhoods.

L’Antagonista Spiriti & Cicchetti, Via del Commercio, 28. A tiny place nearly underneath the historic gazometri on a side street off the bustling main drags, new ownership infuses the menu and the unpretentious spirit of the place. Venetian-style snacks, Italian-centric list and variously styled spritzes. The name is inspired by a character in the 1986 movie, “Troppo Forte” filmed on location.

Ch1887, Via di Monte Testaccio, 30. Tucked away on the second floor of the 135-year-old Checchino 1887—now in its sixth generation of ownership‚ and featuring a bespoke cocktail menu that reflects the culinary traditions of this historic meat-processing district (best known for its cuisine based on offal) through cocktail and food pairings. A creative twist that intersects tradition and trend.

Bar dei Cesaroni, Piazza Giovanni da Triora, 6. Italians know it well as a local sports bar for the A.S. Roma football club, and it gains a wider audience through the popular soap opera, I’Cesaroni. Located in the Garbatella neighborhood, it’s worth the trek outside the city wall (the metro stops nearby).

Bernabei Liquori, Via Luca della Robbia, 12. Busy neighborhood wineshop and outpost off Piazza Testaccio that widely distributes throughout the city. You might not get personal service here, but the selection is large and well organized, offering a good canvas of Italian wines. If you can nab a staff, you’ll find a knowledgeable guide.

Eataly, Piazzale XII Ottobre 1492. You can go to a stateside Eataly but there’s nothing like visiting the Italian epicure in context. The Roman location—the largest in the global chain— opened in the former Air Terminal Ostiense near the train station a decade ago and was expanded in 2018. It has become the destination for fine Italian foods—even for Italians—whether eating there or shopping for takeaway. No Italian region or grape is overlooked in the extensive wine selection and you can find small, well-priced wines from smaller regions. The Birreria features a selection of own-brewed craft beer and some 400 other selections from around the world.

Enoteca Giansanti, Via Ostiense, 34. Run by the second generation of a Testaccio family, thus enoteca and wine shop features a vast Italian wine representation, food and wine pairings and a weekly “Giansanti Jam Night” (though check the site for event schedule, which may have been suspended during the pandemic).

Enoteca La Mescita, Via Luigi Fincati 44. Mescita means “to pour the wine,” and they do this well at this small enoteca in Garbatella with a natural wine focus. Organic and biodynamic local wines are the stars. The small plates for sharing include vegetarian and gluten-free options. The owner walks the floor, ready to pour.

Latta Fermente e Miscele, Via Antonio Pacinotti, 83. An atmospheric, sub-street level wine cellar-vibe addition in the former Biondi Mills in Ostiense, said to be inspired by the 1950’s American soda companies. Artisanal beers, low-intervention, natural wines, and a hefty list of craft cocktails. The “laboratorio di Latta” offers other low-alcohol fermentations—seltzers and sodas and a rice wine with passionfruit.

Jey jazz club, Via Ostiense, 385. Once a car repair shop (“Casa del radiator”), not far from the basilica of San Paolo, live music daily, jam sessions owned by a former crime reporter-turned culture and entertainment editor for Il Messaggero, one of Rome’s daily newspapers.

MASTO a Testaccio, Via Galvani, 39/41. Small, charming restaurant and wine bar just off the piazza with old-school touches like hanging meats from the ceiling. Quiet and relaxed, highly popular with locals, so book in advance.

Palombi, Piazza Testaccio, 38. Old school wine store (since 1917) by day and wine bar at night. Don’t look here for pet-nat or any other trendy wine, but come for the classics and the classic atmosphere.

Taba Cafe Beat, Via del Gazometro, 44. Dusted off and remade in the space of the former, beloved Mercat Bistrot & Old Bar, a more sleek casual-eating bar with a seafood focus. Serviceable, though lacking the charm of its former tenant.