For us, Rome was the best restaurant value of the three cities that we went to - Venice, Florence and Rome. There is a tremendous amount of competition, which surely is one of the reasons.
I'd budgeted around $125 for two meals each day for the two of us. While in Venice, that figure was kind of hard to stay under. In Florence, it was easier and in Rome, very easy.
We stayed in the Navona area and most of the places we ate at were within 15 minutes walking distance. For whatever its worth, we usually shared an appetizer, usually a pasta, had a meat course, salad/veggies, dessert, water, wine and coffee. Rarely did the bill exceed 50 euros - most times it was under this and a few times a bit more.
No, we never went to the super expensive places but we were thrilled with the meals we had in Rome with one exception which I may discuss at a later date.
Here are the places we ate at:
L Orso 80 - A Hound recommendation. Great. Don't be fooled entering this apparently small family place with appetizers displayed on some tables. They escourt you through to the back and they have a beautiful, modern dining room that is neither stuffy nor hoakie - All natural woods, glass. You sit down and immediately are given two wonderful appetizers - rice balls with cheese and fried zuccini. Both were great. Next, without a delay comes your own personal pita-like huge disk straight from the oven. that, too was terrific.
My wife had Polla a la Romano which was made with the most wonderful Roma tomatoes, great olive oil and fresh basil - that's all. I had spagehetti with clam sauce and it was great also. the salads, the veggies, etc. - all great. Thanks Hounds
La Campana - One of the best 5 meals we had in Italy. I believe I already posted on it. Terrific.
Da Baffetto - Hounds said it was great pizza and we concur. Interesting that the number one seller the night we were there was one with a raw egg placed in the middle before going into the oven - very popular. This place was a real scene - lots of tourists, especially from NY. All was good. Waiters great - very funny. Closed Saturday for lunch.
They use a small rolling pin to get the dough paper thin. Very interesting.
Trattoria Gino & Pietro - Not a Hound recommendation but I believe you will like the place. Good food, extremely reasonable, pretty good service. They make a pasta dish with the stems of the artichoke plant that is really good.
Della Palma Gellato - Very, very good. Amazing place. But, the best gellato we ad was in Florence. I'll mention it - A Hound recommendation too. Anyway, this place was a real scene also. tons of people and tons of gellato in every flavor you can imagine including extra rich varieties of their standard flavors.
Volpetti - since early 1900's. A deli (sorry I cannot spell their name) with incredible provisions including the best fresh ham "porketta" I've ever eaten. Strictly take out but if you want this type of meal for lunch, try this place. Oh, incidently, next door is a great bakery. Both places are open until around 8:00 pm.
Sadly, never made it to the fried artichoke place in The Jewish Ghetto - Lots of Hounds recommended it.
There was a terrific bakery on Campo di Fiore for fruit tarts, etc. Sorry I do not remember the name but it is before the market and not the bakery within the central market area.
Rome was great. What energy. Reminded me a lot of NYC but with 1000 year old architecture. Loved the bread!!! The bread in Rome was, to us, the best of the three cities. Although the heavy crusted "Tuscan" style bread found in both Florence and Rome looked the same, they tasted very different.
In Florence, they purposely leave out the salt when making their bread. We were told that the reason is to experience the the truest flavor of their great olive oils. OK. They told us people visiting from Rome complain about their bread. We loved it but liked Rome's bread the best.
In Rome, the salt is added and to us, the bread had the most flavor. They also have these great big crusted rolls that are literally all crust. When you break them apart, there is virtually no bread inside. They make fantastic sandwiches if you are one who loves crusty bread. I had a porketta sandwich on one -incredible.
If, however your tastes runs to softer bread, you will probably like the bread in Venice and Bologna. It reminded us of the Cuban breads in South Florida to some extent.