Rome's best brunches: 10 places to lose an afternoon
Don't tell Rome about brunch's reputation as a place where men are taken by women to be defrocked -- the American weekend meal tradition has become the city's latest fashion, with countless weekend buffets popping up around the Eternal City in recent years.
Roman brunch -- a happy merger of aperitivo (Italian happy hour) buffets and American dining -- is scheduled a bit later in the day than its American counterpart (some might call it a more hangover-friendly time), usually between noon and 3:30 p.m.
It's a buffet for Romans with money to spend at restaurants that are beautifully and eclectically decorated.
In no particular order, here are the 10 best brunch spots in town -- reservations and careful planning are a must.
The brainchild of chef Antonello Colonna, Open Colonna's buffet brunch is a slightly more Italian Sunday lunch than American breakfast, with lasagna, parmigianas, fresh cheeses, meatballs, pasta salads and cous cous.
Located on the roof of the Palazzo dei Esposizioni, which hosts excellent art exhibitions, the venue is great, too.
Price: €30 (US$40)
Scalinata di via Milano 9a; +6 4782 2641; brunch hours, Saturdays and Sundays 12:30-3:30 p.m.; www.opencolonna.it
Rec23 in Testaccio bills its brunch as an “authentic American brunch that doesn't forget Grandma's Sunday lunch.”
What that actually means: polenta with sausage, porchetta, lasagna, fried chicken cutlets, cheeses and roast beef. Plus scrambled eggs, pancakes and bacon.
For those who want an accompanying afternoon activity, the unlimited American/Italian brunch buffet is accompanied by a “cheap and chic” flea market the second Sunday of each month.
Price: €15 (US$20), including coffee, water and orange juice.
Piazza dell'Emporio 2; +6 8746 2147; brunch hours, Sundays 12:30-3:30 p.m.; www.rec23.com
One of the most delicious and cost-friendly brunches in Rome, Bakery House offers exclusively American breakfast dishes, such as scrambled eggs and bacon, ham and cheese omelettes, pancakes, french toast, bagels and sandwiches.
Brunch comes with orange juice and American coffee. There's no buffet here -- you order a meal from a waitress.
Price: €8.50 (US$11).
Corso Trieste, 157; +6 9437 7841; brunch hours, Saturdays and Sundays 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; www.bakeryhouse.it
This American-style bakery on Via Euralio has a Via Milano cafè that serves a brunch buffet on Sundays with all manner of eggs, bacon, bruschetta, rice dishes, pasta and vegetables.
Pancakes are the notable absentee from Sweety Rome's brunch buffet -- they can be ordered from your waiter and are served with maple syrup or chocolate.
Price: €22 (US$30)
Via Milano 48; +6 4891 3713; brunch hours, Sundays noon-3:30 p.m. www.sweetyrome.it
The Perfect Bun
This upscale spot -- also known as “CO2” -- could have been plucked straight from the London Underground and transplanted in Rome's historic center.
During regular hours, The Perfect Bun serves burgers, steaks and Tex-Mex food, but its brunches are all about eggs, French toast, potatoes and Sunday roast.
Some complain about the prices, spotty service and noise, but it’s still the most fashionable Roman brunch in town, where the crowd is young, Roman and good-looking. Reservations necessary.
Price: €25 (US$33), including American coffee.
Largo del Teatro Valle, 4; +6 4547 6337; brunch hours, Sundays 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.; www.theperfectbun.it
'Gusto serves brunch to a giant crowd on Saturdays and Sundays and lines can get ridiculously long.
The cafe's atmosphere is clean and modern -- it's deemed “New York-style” by Romans -- and the buffet features baked pastas such as timballo and canneloni, meat and seafood dishes, cheeses, pizza, scrambled eggs, bacon, cupcakes and donuts.
Price: €15 (US$20) per 500 grams of buffet food; €2.50 per each additional 100 grams.
Piazza Augusto Imperatore 9; +6 322 6273; brunch hours, Saturdays and Sundays noon-3 p.m.; www.gusto.it
A beautiful loft space with an impressive garden, Zoc's brunch buffet consists of dishes made with “farm to table” ingredients.
Zoc's classic brunch items include fresh seasonal fruits, pancakes and scrambled eggs; non-traditional options are shrimp curry, salads, baked potatoes, caesar salad, chili, smoothies, chicken wings and chocolate muffins.
The menu at Zoc changes daily, so arrive hungry and curious.
Price: €30 (US$40).
Via Delle Zoccolette 22; +6 6819 2515; brunch hours, Saturdays and Sundays noon-3:30 p.m.; www.zoc22.it
Bocca di Dama
A lovely bakery in San Lorenzo with spare white, black and neutral interiors, Bocca di Dama serves a bountiful brunch.
The buffet of “naturally imperfect” foods offers meatballs, brocoletti, foccaccia, lasagna, quiche, toast with artisanal jams, mini-croissants and a whole table of pancakes. Reservations recommended.
Price: €20 (US$27) including coffee, wine or tea.
Via dei Marsi 4; +6 4434 1154; brunch hours, Saturdays and Sundays 12:30-3:30 p.m.; www.boccadidama.it
This trendy Roman bar by night turns into a brunch spot on weekend mornings.
We like the “organic” alternative to brunch, which is more aperitivo than breakfast. Among the buffet of cous cous, pasta salads, pita sandwiches and green salad with almond-apricot dressing, you'll find fruit juice and coffee.
Price: €15 (US$20), including non-alcoholic beverages.
Piazza di Pietra 42; +6 678 5804; brunch hours, Saturdays and Sundays 1-3 p.m.; www.salotto42.it
Il Pulcino Ballerino
Fancy a bit of musical entertainment with your Sunday morning headache? You might try Il Pulcino Ballerino in San Lorenzo, where the Wild Brunch buffet comes with a live rock set.
The buffet line features sausages, eggs, baked pastas, pasta salads, meat dishes and vegetables.
The show starts at 2:30 p.m. Reservations recommended.
Price: €20 ($US27), alcoholic beverages not included.
Via degli Equi 68; +6 494 1255; brunch hours, Sundays 12:30-2:30 p.m.; www.pulcinoballerino.com
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