Naples may be Italy’s pizza capital, but Rome has greater variety to offer. There’s the classic Roman pie (round, flat and thin with a crispy crust), the ever popular and usually quadrilateral pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice), and now there are a growing number of boutique pizzerias, which employ carefully honed methods, specially selected starters, exceptional flour and high quality toppings. This new genre is best tested at three pizzerias (Sforno, La Gatta Mangiona, and La Fucina) and two pizza al taglio joints (00100 and Pizzarium). All of them are outside the historic center, so I have included trasport information for getting there with public transport.
Antonio Pratticò and Stefano Callegari’s Sforno is, in my opinion, the best pizzeria in Rome. Pies are prepared with a long-rising dough that results in a consistency closer to the Neapolitan style when cooked.
This place has everything I look for in a pizzeria: amazing fritti, excellent dough, a passionate and creative pizzaiolo, enthusiastic service, a great beer list, and good desserts. Oh, and they also do a totally weird but excellent baguette tower thing stuffed with sauces inspired by the cucina romana.
The pizzas cover all the classic bases, with some creative revelations thrown in, including cacio e pepe (topped with grated sheep’s milk cheese and ground black pepper), Greenwich (Stilton, mozzarella, and port reduction) and Pizza in Bocca (a twist on saltimbocca topped with mozzarella, sage, and prosciutto marinated in white wine).
Sforno is wildly popular so be sure to book ahead. To get there, take the Metro A to Subaugusta. The pizzeria is a five-minute walk from the station. It is located at Via Statilio Ottato, 110/116; tel +39-06-7154-6118; website;
open Mon-Sat 8:00-23:00 p.m.
Antonio Pratticò and Stefano Callegari strike again at this pizza al taglio joint located just off Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice in Testaccio. The shop is small and simple, with two counters inside or a single bench outside where you can eat. The suppli’ are top-notch and available in interesting flavors like Frascati and porchetta or alla carbonara (you can find these and similar types at Sforno, as well).
The pizza by the slice is a perfect balance of stellar dough and simple, well conceived toppings. Speck and mozzarella, pureed chick peas, and potatoes with mozzarella are personal favorites. Callegari also makes an outstanding foccaccia pugliese; the thick and spongy dough is topped with onions, cherry tomatoes and whole olives.
The most exciting thing about 00100, however, are its trapizzini, triangles of dough stuffed with sauces inspired by the cucina romana. Trapizzini are a portable, if messy, addition to the Roman street food scene. Fillings included trippa alla romana, meatballs, tongue in a garlicy parsley sauce, and bits of oxtail in tomato sauce. There is also a decent selection of beer and wine.
To get there, take the 170 bus from Piazza Venezia for five stops. 00100 is 150 yards away at Via Giovanni Branca, 88; website; open daily noon-11 p.m.
LA GATTA MANGIONA
Located in Monteverde, not far from the San Giovanni di Dio Market, this pizzeria serves excellent crostini, fritti, and pizzas. They employ high quality ingredients and, like Sforno, offer both classic and creative toppings on dough that is closer to the Neapolitan tradition than it is to the thin crust Roman.
Be sure to start out with an assortment of fritti-the calzoncelli (fried dough stuffed with various fillings) are simple and light, and the suppli’ are quite good. They have an excellent selection of whiskeys, an impressive selection of wine and craft beers. To get there, take the 8 tram to San Giovanni di Dio or the 44 bus to Via Ozanam. La Gatta Mangiona is located 150 yards from both stops, at Via F. Ozanam, 30-32; tel +39-06-346-702; website; open Tues-Sun 7:45-23:30 p.m.
Gabriele Bonci’s acclaimed pizza al taglio is a pilgrimage destination for Italian gastronomes. I think some of his pizzas are exceptional, while others are good, and a few not so good. Like many places in town, it pays to know what to order. Start off with a suppli’—there is a list of flavors on the blackboard behind the counter—which are consistently excellent.
Try some of the pizza by the slice, as well, bearing in mind that Bonci’s dough is amazing and the more toppings there are, the less it shines through. His pizza rossa is brilliant and is simply topped with a tomato sauce rich in flavorful olive oil. On a recent visit, the rabbit, roasted grape and fennel seed pizza was life changing. Not so exciting, on the other hand, are any of the pizzas with more than 4 ingredients, which seem more like random leftovers than well conceived pairings—a slice of rabbit/scallop/olive/mortadella/capers was particularly horrid.
Pizzarium is slammed at lunch time, so be prepared to queue if you go between 12:30 and 2 p.m. As a matter of fact, there is often a line regardless of the time of day. And beware that there are no proper tables, just a counter inside and a few benches outside. To get to Pizzarium, take the Metro A to Cipro and walk 50 yards to Via Meloria, 43; tel +39-06-3974-5416; no website; open Mon-Sat 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sun 5-10 p.m.
I wrote about this place after a visit with Do Bianchi back in September. You can read the full post here. Though I much prefer the places above, I felt it would be negligent to omit this place. La Fucina offers pizza a degustazione, that is, you order multiple pizza for the table and they come pre-sliced (a novelty in Italy) so everyone at the table can share. The flour, dough, and ingredients are excellent and owner Edoardo Papa is surely doing some interesting things, but I came away with the idea that what La Fucina offers is closer to dressed focaccia than pizza. I prefer the latter. Judge for yourself, but be prepared for a long haul. Take the 170 from Piazza Venezia. Get off at Largo Marzi and switch to the 719 bus. Take it for fourteen stops and get off at Via Portunense/Via Pietro Venturi. La Fucina is 100 yards away at Via Giuseppe Lunati, 25/31; tel +39-06-559-3368; website; open Mon-Sat 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.