I'm overwhelmed by amazing food in Rome after my recent trip. This first post is going to be about pizza and fried foods, but several more (about Rome's beautiful pastas, Jewish food, pastry, gelato etc.) will definitely follow. I was never a pizza lover and the more I was surprised by the Roman style pizza. It is different. And even I have to say that it is great. You just have to try it at the right places.
Rome has distinct styles for both classic pizza made to order and street pizza (by the slice / al taglio). In Rome's pizzerias the pizza is normally accompanied by fried appetizers (fritti). These are an important part of regional cuisine and are delicious. Below is more about Roman pizza and fritti and about pizzerias / bakeries, which I really liked in Rome. Here I have to say great thank you to Katie Parla for her amazing Rome food blog (Parla food), which was extremely helpful in preparing for the trip.
Pizza by the slice (al taglio)
This pizza you get from street pizzerias or bakeries (forno). It is already baked when you buy it, but is extremely fresh (if you are in a good shop). They cut you a piece of the size you ask for. Rome has a distinctive style for this pizza. It is baked in long rectangles and then sliced mostly into squares.
The crust may look thick (up to 1 cm), but in fact it isn't. The air holes occupy pretty much all the space between the top and the bottom surface of the crust. The bottom is always crunchy and the top can get soft when it is moistened by the topping.
It is worth starting from pizza bianca. At first I was surprised by the whole idea: it is a completely plain pizza crust baked with no topping (not even tomato sauce) and then drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt. So it is a kind of lightly dressed special bread. However it turned out that it tastes absolutely great in its simplicity. Especially when it's extra fresh.
Then there is great pizza rossa (dressed with tomato sauce only, then baked) and lots and lots of other flavors, some classic (like margarita) and some extremely creative. Pizza al taglio appeared to be one of the vibrant creative spaces in Rome's gastronomy, where great chefs keep inventing and inventing.
Pizzarium (Via della Meloria 43, open daily 9.30 to midnight) is one of those creative places for pizza al taglio in Rome, led by Gabriele Bonci. I'm very happy that we got to visit it.
The shop is tiny and simple, but everything about it has some elegance. There is a counter, around 5 standing places and one [seating] bench in front of it. Obvious alternative is to take the pizza away (which was what we did).
I fell for pizza dressed with eggplant mash and peccorino and it was insanely good. The crust is first baked with tomato sauce and cheese and then dressed with eggplant and the rest, which is a common was for many other pizza flavors.
Pizzarium also has many own style fritti. I tried the one made of risotto and anchovy. Really good.
The idea of pizza with potatoes at first seemed weird to me, but in Rome it is apparently very popular, so we tried one at Pizzarium. I have to say though everything we tried was extremely good the pizza with potatoes was the best and disappeared immediately. There are plenty of different ways how potato is used in pizza dressing in Rome and now I'm very curious to try e.g. the version of 00100 pizza shop.
I also got to try pizza rossa and caprese pizza at Forno Roscioli (Via dei Chiavari 34, open Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 7.30 pm), as well as pizza bianca and Forno Campo dei Fiori (Campo De' Fiori 22, open Monday to Saturday 7.30 am to 2.30 pm and 4.45 pm to 8 pm). These bakeries are extremely good.
When trying to eat in Rome it is worth paying attention to orari di apertura, if you know what I meat, as the good places are almost never open 24/7. Pizzarium works every day from 9.30 am to midnight. Other street pizzerias may open later (around noon). Bakeries (fornos) open earlier and close earlier. Many places are closed on Sunday (or sometimes Monday/Tuesday), and some are closed between lunch and dinner, so it is good to check before you go.
Next time I'm very much hoping to visit Volpetti (Via Marmorata 47, open Monday to Saturday 8 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 8.15 pm) and 00100pizza (Via Giovanni Branca 88, open daily 12 pm to 11 pm) to try their pizza al taglio and fritti.
Pizza made to order
Here I mean the round pizza, which is made to your order at a pizzeria (normally some sitting serviced space). This pizza is also different when made Rome style. The crust is 1 mm thick (I'm not exaggerating) and is very crisp. There are also some classic toppings and some quite creative ones.
Da Remo (Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice 44, open Monday to Saturday 7 pm to 1 am, tel: 065746270) is famous for its margarita and I came there exactly for it. We came to opening time (7 pm) and it was still almost empty. However in half an hour the hall got full. I guess one more hour later the famous line was already outside.
It felt extremely humble and comfortable. All simple and friendly. My margarita arrived very soon and I somehow went completely consumed by it. I never finished a whole pizza before, but this one was gone almost immediately.
My mom got a salsiccia, which turned out to be like margarita but with some sausage in it and it was very good too.
At some point in time a family of four Italians appeared at a table next to ours. They ordered four margaritas and enjoyed them. Slowly and thoughtfully.
Next time I'm very much hoping to visit Sforno (Via Statilio Ottato 110/116, open Monday to Saturday 8 am to 11 pm, tel: 0671546118), La Gatta Mangiona (Via Federico Ozanam 30, open Tuesday to Sunday 7.45 pm to 11.30 pm, tel: 065346702), which are both a little far from the city center, and may be Piperno.
All these pizzerias are extremely popular so it is worth reserving a table in advance (that's why I listed their numbers above). They rarely provide online booking option, so you need to call. Hotel receptions are normally ready to help. Otherwise you can get a local sim card (which I did). Ten words I know in Italian plus smile were enough.
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