My apartment is midway between the Monti and Celio districts, so when I want a great meal close to home, I have a ridiculous number choices, ranging from inexpensive organic cafes to break-the-bank fish restaurants. In spite of the numerous options, I opt for pizza 80% of the time. In Monti, Alle Carrette is the convenient choice and in the Celio its all about Li Rioni.

Like most great pizzerias in Rome, Li Rioni is only open for dinner. From 7:30pm until midnight, the dining room, decked out to look like an old Roman street, terracotta awnings and all, is packed. On warm evenings, tables are set up outside, too, bringing the total number of couverts to around 100. This is probably a few too many for the size of the oven and the number of servers on the floor, but it works. Well, not always. Weekend nights tend to be a bit sloppy, hence the slightly charred wonky crust on the pizzas pictured here. But, in general, Li Rioni serves excellent thin crust Roman style pizza.

But first things first. I always start out with the obligatory fritti–eating pizza without mixed friend starters is a mortal sin in Italy–mozzarelline, olive ascolane, filetti di baccala’, fiori di zucca and suppli’. These are on par with Da Remo’s offerings. Once my belly is full of fried things, I go for a pizza margherita. This doesn’t quite reach the perfection of Da Remo’s pie, but it is pretty close. On Friday night, I went for the margherita with mozzarella di bufala and it came out a bit misshapen. Still, it was a whole lot better than this crime against pizza.

Their pizza with mozzarella and sausage tends to be surprisingly light, though last weekend they went unusually heavy on the cheese. I’m all for cheese, but this was too much. This fatty slip-up didn’t stop me from ordering panna cotta, which was perfect and slightly redemptive of the pizza’s shortcomings. The moral of the story: Li Rioni is great Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, while Fridays and Saturdays tend to be chaotic and the food suffers for it.

Li Rioni
Via SS Quattro Coronati, 24 – Roma
Closed Tuesdays