I wanted to have one fantasy meal in Rome with wonderful Italian food in a beautiful location. We were fortunate to arrive early at Ristorante Santa Lucia and they were able to fit us in without a reservation. This busy restaurant is located one block behind the Plaza Navona. It has seating inside, but in warm weather they have tables that fill a terrace in the center of a square that is dripping with lush green vines.
The view from our table - so pretty. We were crazy American early, but soon afterwards all the tables were filled. We had great service and enjoyed a wonderful relaxing meal.
A peak at the menu. A bit of a splurge, but hey, you are only in Rome once!
A spinach salad with oranges, olives, and shaved pecorino cheese. Best salad of the trip!
Puff pastry with cheeses and onion straws - this was amazing!
Fresh pasta with fresh mussels - not a huge fan of mussels, but this was really good.
Grilled veggies on the side.
Veal with lemon sauce. Pretty presentation!
And dessert - molten chocolate cake with vanilla gelato.
A note about dining in Italy: On busy squares there are lots of touristy restaurants which may or may not be good. Our first night in Rome we had a very disappointing meal on the Campo de' Fiori. After that evening, we got recommendations from our hotel and also used the reviews in Trip Advisor and suggestions from Rick Steves to plan our meals. Most places we ate were pretty good and a few were amazing!
We didn't make reservations for meals and went fairly early (7 pm) and were able to get into most places that we wanted, but looking back that was pretty lucky. We discovered most places had their tables filled with little cards saying "reserved." It seems people reserve the table for the evening and arrive whenever they want and stay as long as they want. If you know in advance where you want to eat, ask your hotel to reserve a table for you.