UPDATE: The pizzaiolo has left Gazometro 38 and has moved to Mercato Centrale. The new pizzeria is experiencing some growing pains–four days after opening I was served a partially raw pie–but I will be monitoring the situation.

Since Eataly opened in 2012, the Ostiense district has been booming and the newly invigorated zone has welcomed all sorts of places to eat and drink. I’m in love with Ostiense itself, but less excited about many of its venues. La Romana flawlessly merges mediocrity and marketing in its scoops of ordinary gelato, while the delicious cocktails at Porto Fluviale do little to mitigate the dull and inconsistent food. Meanwhile, the very existence of La Dogana’s all-you-can-eat sushi menu and sad and sprawling pan-Asian buffet of blandness keep me up at night. The point of these places isn’t really to serve great food, but to capitalize on atmosphere, play up the industrial origins of the zone through design (ie so many stressed surfaces, iron work, huge windows, and open formats that evoke Ostiense’s origins as a factory hub), and tap into a market of consumers that wants to go out but doesn’t want to spend a lot.

No bueno

Ostiense’s venues aren’t all bad. Hop Side is fun for a beer and Akira does a decent ramen. On the other side of Via Ostiense, long-established Bar Andreotti is going strong, Pizzeria Ostiense is delicious, and if you catch the pizzas right out of the oven, you won’t be disappointed by Pizzarium-inspired pizza by the slice joint Mani in Pasta. In fact, pizza is your best bet in Ostiense if you rank food above design and prefer eating well to seeing-and-being-seen. Keep that in mind at Gazometro 38 where the cavernous dining room–a former garage–serves starters, pasta, meat, fish, veggie and burgers. Skip them all and stick to the pizzas. Don’t even order fritti unless you can handle the disappointment of ice cold supplì or the trauma of insipid goo-filled squash blossoms.

Pizza with coppa and broccoli rabe

You’ll be glad you saved room for the delicious pizzas by Pier Daniele Seu, a young pizzaiolo with an affinity for the thick-rimmed Neapolitan style but who isn’t bound by the dogma that defines pizza napoletana. His pizza dough, a custom mix of flours, is subjected to a slow, cold leavening, which produces a chewy, bubble-rich base that can support substantial toppings. Flavors range from classic Margherita, Marinara, and Napoli to original combos like Rome vs Bari (buffalo mozzarella, broccoli rabe, coppa, and orange zest), Le Origini (buffalo mozzarella, porchetta, and mirto reduction), and Gricia (guanciale, pecorino cream, and caramelized onion). All pizzas are served degustazione-style (pre-sliced, a novelty in Rome found in a handful of places like Sforno, Tonda, Sbanco, and La Fucina) and sharing is encouraged. Go in a group and mix it up, sampling traditional and creative pies washed down with a Negroni or Canediguerra IPA. Over-order and skip dessert.

Gricia pizza

Gazometro 38
Via del Gazometro 38
Tel +39 06 5730 2106