#1 on the list is Roscioli (via dei Giubbonari, 21/22, 00186 Roma, Italy). I can't ever imagine traveling to Italy and not eating here.
Roscioli was so tasty, it was the only restaurant we went to twice during our 14-day vacation. You read any foodie list on Rome and Roscioli is at the top of the pack. Mario Batali, Anthony Bourdain, me: we all say go faster. Actually, first you must make reservations. The deli moonlighting as a restaurant is tiny, with less than 20 tables. If you can, ask to sit in Daniel's section. He's charming and knows his prosecco, champagne, and sparkling wine. And he doesn't try to sell you the 100 Euro bottle. Instead, he finds you a small producer that's in your budget and somehow nails your taste buds with just one look.
I studied the menu months before our trip and already knew what I wanted to order before we sat down.
Must order: La matriciana o amatriciana (bombolotto paffuto pasta tossed with campanian region tomato sauce, crispy pig cheek, and roman pecorino). It tasted like it had heavy cream, without the heaviness. I'm not sure how they sauced each individual pasta so perfectly without making it saucy, but this was so delicious, I wanted to order it again for dessert. It was in the top 3 things I ate in Italy.
Burrata con perle di tartufo (burrata cheese from andria with winter black truffle pearls) + selezione di prosciutti italiana = party in your mouth. If you can, travel to Italy in October. Two words: truffle season.
This is real carbonara (large spaghetti tossed with crispy pork cheek, malaysian black pepper, paolo parisi eggs, and roman pecorino). It's decadent, but not heavy at all. Eating it makes you feel giddy and naughty. Slurp it like you slurp ramen.
And finally, if Rome had a pasta mascot, it'd be cacio e pepe (fresh pasta with roman pecorino, cacio from moliterno, pecorino di fossa from sogliano del rubicone, and mayaysian black pepper). This is adulting. With adult mac n' cheese. Oh, and bubbles (another small producer). Cin cin!