Sometimes, you don’t just want brunch in Rome. You want American brunch in Rome. You know. Pancakes. Eggs. Bagels. Filter coffee.
That can be pretty tough.
Finding brunch in Rome isn’t the part that’s hard. Like cupcakes and cocktails, brunch is what all the cool kids in Rome are doing (or consuming) these days.
And, like cupcakes and cocktails, even though some of the cool factor of brunch stems from it being a US import, it’s often not quuuuite done American-style. In fact, most Italian brunches offer up a spread that just like a noon-time aperitivo, with pastas, salads, meats, and cheeses. (And maybe some couscous or farro, if we’re getting really fancy).
But when you’re homesick hungry for American brunch, that just won’t do. Here are three places to head to instead: my three favorite spots for American brunch in Rome.
The Bakery House
I’m not exaggerating when I say that my jaw dropped when I walked into this light, airy cafe on Corso Trieste. Aside from the fact that it was packed with teeny-bopper Romans—seriously, my friend and I were the oldest ones in there—it could have been straight from any American college town.
And they know it. “The ‘brunch hour’ is a traditional American experience,” their website proudly reads. “For those who have never heard of it, we’re speaking of a meal that you eat between 11am and 4pm in the days in which you don’t work (Saturday and Sunday) and during holidays. The Bakery House brunch is presented in perfect American style, with a menu that provides eggs and bacon, ham and cheese omelettes, pan cakes [okay, I know I’ve translated the whole rest of this paragraph from Italian, but I just have to leave ‘pan cakes’ as they wrote it], French toast, bagels and sandwiches.”
Big claims. After having to wait 45 minutes for a table for two (yes, a reservation here is practically essential)—not particularly common at 2pm in Rome—my expectations had only gotten bigger.
Luckily, the Bakery House delivered. The eggs Benedict, bagel with lox, and onion rings were all, well, uber-American. They wouldn’t have been the best brunch dishes I’d ever eat in America. But for Rome, they were pretty darn good. That, with orange juice and coffee, came out to less than €20 each—for brunch in Rome, a steal.
I’d be lying, though, if I didn’t say that the real clincher was the carrot cake I may or may not have scooped up to take home on the way out. Maybe it’s just that I hadn’t had carrot cake in more than a year. But that, my friends, may have been the best carrot cake I’ve had. Ever.
The Bakery House is located at Corso Trieste 157 b/c; they serve brunch (a la carte, not buffet) from 11am to 4pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
This hip spot in Testaccio is a wine bar and restaurant by night, brunch spot by (weekend) day. I didn’t have particularly high expectations—especially after a subpar cocktail a couple of weeks earlier—but, after a few people recommended it to me, decided to give its brunch a try.
And, yes. I was glad I did.
The brunch at Rec 23 is buffet style, and there’s a big variety of what’s on offer, from super-American plates like pancakes to Italian-style brunch dishes, like pasta, meat and cooked vegetables.
It’s also one of the best deals around: €16.50 for a buffet where you can go back for as many plates as you want, with coffee and orange juice included. (Many other brunch buffets in the city cost €25 or more).
Given that, I was kind of surprised at how relatively high-quality some of the plates, particularly the baked goods, were. Not to mention the variety. There was granola and yogurt…
And pancakes that actually got it right…
And doughnuts. (Crazy!).
You can’t get much better. And with the mix of American and Italian options, it’s a great place to head with an international group–where, you know, not everyone understands the merit of granola at 2pm.
Rec 23 serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:30pm to 3:30pm. It’s located at Piazza dell’Emporio 1/2.
The Perfect Bun
Now, look: The Perfect Bun, an institution (and tourist magnet) in the heart of Rome’s centro storico, is never going to get a foodie award. The orange juice isn’t fresh-squeezed. The sausage is greasy. The scrambled eggs remind me of the enormous vats we’d have in college.
But if you’re looking for an American breakfast that really reminds you of home—you know, the kind of brunch that was popular before brunch places started going all high-end and farm-to-table, in all their grease-spattered glory—then there’s no better place to come.
In terms of sheer quantity of very-American food, The Perfect Bun wins. There are pancakes with syrup and strawberry topping and whipped cream (very important note: these are the ones that star at the top of this post), and bagels with salmon and capers and cream cheese, and scrambled eggs, and sausage and bacon and ham. There’s even macaroni and cheese.
That’s not to mention the an omelet station where a guy makes you omelets fresh to order. And American drip coffee that you can serve yourself (if you’re like me, over and over and over). And ice for your orange juice. And, yes, every kind of baked good on offer, from cakes to brownies to cookies.
If you’re not expecting anything gourmet—just good, basic, stick-to-your-ribs American breakfast food—then it’s absolutely the right place to come. Not to mention convenient. If a bit pricey: the (go-back-as-often-as-you-want) buffet sets you back €25.
The Perfect Bun is located at Largo del Teatro Valle 4. Brunch is on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 2pm.
If you liked this post, you’ll love The Revealed Rome Handbook: Tips and Tricks for Exploring the Eternal City, available for purchase on Amazon or through my site here! I’m also free for one-on-one consulting sessions to help plan your Italy trip.