For a time, I lived in a unique area of Rome, where there was an authentic touch that could not be found elsewhere. Exploring the Monteverde neighborhood of the city, I found a trattoria that I would never forget, and which I strive to return to during each visit to the Eternal City.


Amanda Wakefield

Sweating as I pushed the button on Tram 8 at my stop, I wondered why my study abroad program placed my roommates and I so far away from our school, The American University of Rome. Every day, I left for school having little idea when I would even arrive. The buses were never on time and often too crowded to squeeze on. On one occasion, I missed the bus and sprinted uphill to make it to class just in the knick of time. Maybe this is a reason I did not gain 50 pounds in Rome. 

So, why did my program decide to put me in an apartment on the outskirts of Rome? The answer was simple, yet I could not grasp it at the time. The farther away from the center, the more local and authentic Rome was. No tourists, no photos of food trying to entice the customer, no selfie sticks, and rarely any English spoken in the streets. 

While this seemed inconvenient at first because communication in the area was difficult, I grew to appreciate the authenticity of it all, especially in regard to the food. It was not meant to catch the eye of a passing tourist, did not have the spiked prices that the center entailed, and, most importantly, it was made by Italians and for Italians (who I have learned are very particular about what they consume). 

Trattoria da Cesare 

Located right around the corner from my apartment was Trattoria da Cesare, one of the most amazing places I have eaten at, both because of the food and ambience. While it didn't look like much from the outside, I decided to venture in.

What soon became the best trattoria in Rome for me was not crowded in the way that many of the tourist locations were: it was packed with Italian families and couples, enjoying meals the Italian way—slow and steady with care in each bite. I was immediately enthralled with the conversation, grapes hanging from the ceilings, and the savory smell of all of the trattoria's specialties coming out of the kitchen. 

Trattoria Specialties

A lot of the dishes that I grew to love in Italy were cooked to perfection at Trattoria de Cesare. Although I could never fully converse with the non-English speaking servers, I felt that every dish was made with precise detail and care. After eating there over five times, I can confidently say that I never had a bad meal or experience. Some of my favorite dishes from the trattoria are described and pictured below. 

Gnocchetti Fritti

One of the dishes that I love at Cesare is the gnocchetti fritti, golden-fried gnocchi on top of a Pecorino Romano fondue. It is something unique to Trattoria da Cesare, and a must-order whenever I go. My friends and I would split an order of the gnocchetti fritti before our pasta dishes. Although filling, I would easily devour an entire dish of this if given the opportunity right now.


The carbonara—a traditional Roman dish with egg, guanciale, and pecorino cheese—is among one of my favorites. The sauce is just thick enough and the portion just large enough to make you feel satisfied. While I have tried many, many carbonara dishes around Rome, this one tops the list. 


Amatriciana, another specialty from Rome, is also something I dream about from the trattoria. The red sauce, simmered with the oil from cooking the guanciale, complemented the al dente pasta so well. In every bite, I could taste the flavor intensify. My mom's favorite Roman dish, I encouraged her to try this when she visited, and she agreed it was the best she had ever had. 

Living for the Local

Amanda Wakefield

Although my location while I studied abroad was a little out of the way from the tourist center of Rome, I really appreciated everything that Monteverde provided. Though there were many obstacles at the beginning of my journey, the flavors of the incredible food and local atmosphere at Trattoria da Cesare helped me to realize the authenticity of Italian culture outside of the busy center of Rome. 

Grazie per tutti La Trattoria da Cesare, Monteverde, the ISA program, and the American University of Rome