The Giallorossi returned to winning ways with Francesco Totti's deputy playing a key role to help pull them level with Juventus at the top of the league
The 23-year-old was drafted in by coach Rudi Garcia, who rested captain Francesco Totti, and emerged as a key figure, netting early before Cesena's resistance was ended by Daniele De Rossi late on.
Roma's win and Juventus' injury-time defeat at Genoa means the Giallorossi are now level on points with the defending champions after nine rounds. They also have an identical goal difference and goals scored tally.
Garcia's men were in desperate need of a win after a 7-1 Champions League hammering by Bayern Munich was followed by a weekend draw at Sampdoria.
And despite the absence of Totti, Radja Nainggolan and goalkeeper Morgan De Sanctis - all left out by Garcia - the home side started with purpose.
Vasilis Torosidis saw an early shot blocked with two subsequent follow-up efforts also bundled clear by the Cesena defence.
It did not take long for Roma to make the breakthrough, though, with Destro capping off a sweeping move to put them ahead after eight minutes.
Torosidis slipped the ball through for Gervinho and his low cross was inch-perfect for the forward to tap home from three yards.
The former Siena striker could have trebled his tally by the break but had a goal chalked off for offside after meeting Miralem Pjanic's free-kick with a crisp finish and then saw goalkeeper Federico Agliardi produce a fine save to deflect his drive past the post.
The visitors offered little as an attacking threat in the opening 45 minutes and spent much of the second period on the back foot as well.
Their best chance came after 69 minutes when experienced Portuguese striker Hugo Almeida found time and space in the box but could only drag his header wide of goal.
It proved an expensive miss as Roma made sure of the win with nine minutes to go. A deep corner was headed back across goal by Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and De Rossi was on hand to turn the ball home.