Visitors who last came to Rome in the Dolce Vita years will be shocked by the demise of the ultracheap neighborhood trattoria. But there's good news, too: In terms of culinary competence and variety, the contemporary Roman dining scene is as good as it has ever been. Now, for every orthodox trattoria romana there is a new "mozzarella bar," or an Asian-Italian fusion restaurant, or a designer wine bar serving Roman "tapas."
For a quick snack, avoid Rome's uninspiring tramezzini (bar sandwiches, invariably made with white bread). Instead, most alimentari (grocery stores) will make up delicious panini from whatever's behind the deli counter. Or stock up on picnic provisions at an outdoor market such as Campo de' Fiori, San Cosimato, or Testaccio. Pizza is always a good fallback: In the last ten years, the doughier Neapolitan variety has made inroads, but thinner pizza romana is still the locals' first choice. Note that, with a few tourist-oriented exceptions, most pizzerias are open only in the evening. Also, few Romans turn up to dinner before 8 pm. And check that a restaurant is open before you make plans—days off and vacations are taken seriously here.