From Rome With Love: A Crash Course in Genuine Roman Pizza

  • Michael Kalanty digs into genuine Roman pizzas at three exemplary retailers in Rome: Bonci Pizzarium, Forno Campo de’ Fiori and Antico Forno Roscioli.
  • Minimize with scissors and offered by weight, Roman pizza, or pizza al taglio, is a well-liked and pervasive avenue meals of the Italian capitol.

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By Michael Kalanty

If Roman pizza doesn’t shock you with its distinctive kinds, you’re certain to lift an eyebrow once you see the way it’s served: al taglio. Minimize with scissors and offered by weight, pizza al taglio is a well-liked and pervasive avenue meals of the Italian capitol. Additionally referred to as pizza in teglia and pizza al trancio, amongst different titles, the title implies that the seller will reduce the pie in accordance with your required width—use each fingers to point out how huge a slice you need—and decide its value utilizing a scale (pizza alla scala).

Any pair of scissors will do the trick—in a scene from the movie Cobra, Sylvester Stallone grabbed one from his kitchen utility drawer. Italian scizzo (scissors) designed particularly for chopping pizza have offset blades. This permits the decrease blade to relaxation flush on the underside of the pizza pan or plate whereas the grips are held at a forty five° angle to the pie.

However nearly any form or type of pizza could possibly be reduce into slices utilizing scissors, so the time period al taglio doesn’t actually let you know what to anticipate by way of the pizza’s texture, thickness or baking method. When talking of particular kinds of Roman pies, the phrases pizza Romana and pizza alla pala are extra descriptive.

Pizza Romana
Pizza Romana is baked in an oblong or sq. metallic tray. As a reference level, consider the Detroit-style pizza, with its thick and fluffy dough baked in a metallic pan and its crunchy, nearly fried backside crust. When the tray is pre-lined with Parmesan or different grating cheese, the Detroit pie emerges with a crisp, lacy body on its backside and sides, as demonstrated by Grasp Pizza founder Michael LaMarca’s successful pie within the World Pizza Championship (WPC) earlier this 12 months.

Though pizza Romana shouldn’t be enshrouded in a caramelized cheese coating, it does have a noticeably crunchy backside crust. Among the best methods to ship that crunch is by baking it in a heavy metallic pan. These pans are sometimes fabricated from both hard-anodized aluminum or metal for superior warmth switch, excessive warmth capability and even warmth distribution.

A Roman-style pizza can also be thinner than a Detroit-style pie. The latter can obtain heights between 1” and nearly 2”, whereas the identical pie can be half that top in Rome. To visualise, you’ll be able to simply flip your Detroit-style pie into the Roman type just by chopping the load of the dough ball in half and baking in the identical measurement pan. Much less dough in the identical quantity of baking area delivers an airier, lighter texture to the Roman crust, versus the marginally denser, nearly focaccia type of the Detroit pie. Technically talking, the thinner the dough, the higher the thermal break between the dough and the sauce or toppings. This will increase your probabilities for an open crumb construction and crisper backside.

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Gabriele Bonci (photograph by Associazione Pizza Romana)

Bonci Pizzarium
The pizza Romana type is on full show at maestro Gabriele Bonci’s Bonci Pizzarium in Rome, positioned at 43 Through Della Meloria, close to the Cipro metro station. Take a brief stroll north from the Vatican Museum, and also you’ll spot hungry pizza lovers lining the road effectively earlier than you really see the storefront. When you arrive, take a quantity and benefit from the people-watching.

A smiling clerk will reduce your choices al taglia after which re-crisp their bottoms in a smaller service oven with the door saved open so the toppings don’t overheat. The result’s a heat, toasty backside crust with an nearly al dente chew to the bread’s inside. That combo of textures is sufficient to make any aficionado smile. The wild array of obtainable toppings will actually take it excessive.

Bonci gives a rotating menu of assorted Roman pizzas in glass instances. All pies are naturally leavened from certainly one of Bonci’s totally different starters. Primary pies are baked with simply olive oil and salt or unfold with marinara first. A merely topped pie could have eggplant and garlic. Heartier variations are baked with toppings corresponding to yellow potatoes and inexperienced onions, or a extra formidable pairing corresponding to shrimp and porcini mushrooms.

There are additionally barely thicker, crisper pizzas that are baked plain after which topped with salume or cured meats. My private favourite is the prosciutto e fichi, which appears to be like like a miniature charcuterie board, with feathered prosciutto slices, contemporary figs and arugula.

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Antico Forno Roscioli

Pizza Alla Palla
Pizza alla pala is the opposite type of pie that you just’ll discover nearly in all places in Rome. This Roman traditional is baked not in a pan however instantly on the oven fireplace. The pizza alla pala is a skinny, crispy and ethereal slab of dough that’s “shoveled” onto the oven deck from an extended picket board (therefore the “alla pala” a part of the title). The items are reduce al taglia and served on a paper plate or, relying on the variety of slices, in a cardboard field.

Alla pala pizzas might be discovered in lots of Italian cities, particularly Florence and Verona. Exterior Rome, the pizza is characterised by a thick crust and a young, fluffy inside, whereas the toppings might be something from prosciutto and cherry tomatoes to numerous cheeses, olives and spicy salumi. In Rome, the place the type originated, the high-hydration pizza alla pala is skinny and crispy. It bears similarities each visually and texturally to some sq. Center Jap flatbreads, just like the Iranian Sangak or the Persian Nan-e Barbari.

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Pane alla pala is normally formed right into a rectangle with barely rounded corners, its size decided by the depth of the oven. As a result of it’s baked free-form, even crispness of the underside and aspect edges requires the pizzaiolo’s talent and dexterity in transferring the pie as soon as it’s within the oven. U.S. Pizza Group (USPT) member Lars Smith, co-owner of State of Thoughts Public Home & Pizzeria in Los Altos, California, displayed his methods on this class on the WPC earlier this 12 months.

this photo shows a smiling Fabrizio Roscioli sitting in front of a blurred out range of products at Forno Campo de' Fiori
Fabrizio Roscioli (Picture by Forno Campo de’ Fiori)

Forno Campo de’ Fiori
The place are you able to style the quintessential pizza alla pala in Rome? Head to Forno Campo de’ Fiori (Oven on the Flower Market) in Rome’s southwest nook. Boasting an oven that’s been firing since 1864, the bakery, located on the nook of the outdated Roman market, boasts a pizza alla pala that’s about 12” huge by 7’ lengthy. That’s loads of gluten to must tame throughout the shaping and loading part.

The two-kilogram dough items spend roughly half-hour every on 8’ lengthy canvas-covered boards that hardly match the bakery area. Earlier than being loaded, every bit is alternately brushed with olive oil and hand-stretched a minimum of 4 or 5 occasions earlier than it’s transferred onto the fireside.

Baking the dough is a feat of pizzaiolo acrobatics that rivals the spinning airborne pies that masters like USPT member Jamie Culliton show with ease. The 8’ lengthy board is lifted from its sawhorse assist and carried to a shorter 2’ lengthy loading peel. Holding the board at a forty five° angle, the pizzaiolo concurrently slides and pleats the dough in order that it suits completely onto the shorter loading peel.

Recipe: Roman-style Butternut Squash Pizza

The pizzaiolo steadily attracts the peel from the depths of the oven towards the entrance, utilizing a sequence of clean pulses to unload the pleated dough right into a flat form as soon as once more. With an oven warmth of 575℉, the ¼”- to ½”-thick dough bakes to a crisp backside and edges in seven to eight minutes.

Merely brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, this so-named pizza bianca was the unique avenue meals offered at Forno Campo de’ Fiori, owned by the Roscioli household. Bianca doesn’t imply white on this case, however plain or unadorned. There’s additionally a pizza marinara model, through which the stretched dough is slathered with pink sauce simply previous to baking. To get across the challenges of pleating a dough coated in sauce, the marinara model is baked in a shorter 3’ sheet.

The bianca and marinara pies are the spine of the menu right here, however there are different variations with primary toppings to spherical out the menu—mozzarella and tomato, cured ham and cheese, and a private favourite: cheese, anchovies and squash blossoms. All items are reduce al taglia and priced by weight.

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The bustling market and flower stalls make for nice people-watching. Pizza in hand, clients discover accommodating seating on upturned produce packing containers or chairs borrowed from close by cafes (if it’s not a busy hour!), or they merely take pleasure in their slices whereas strolling the market.

Antico Forno Roscioli

Antico Forno Roscioli
Over time, evolving menu developments referred to as for the introduction of extra topping selections. Slightly than altering the menu and the unique type at Forno Campo de’ Fiori, the Roscioli household selected to open one other spot a few two-minute stroll southeast of Campo de’ Fiori, thus bookending the busy market and vacationer gathering spot.

Antico Forno Roscioli—positioned at 34 Through dei Chiavari—serves pizza alla pala with a barely thicker crust, about ¾” to 1”, and a extra open crumb. You’ll be able to nonetheless get an unadorned bianca or marinara pie right here, however an even bigger draw is the huge assortment of toppings (some baked on the pies, others added afterwards) that Roscioli gives: cured meats, melted cheeses, contemporary produce like spinach, bitter greens, mushrooms and olives. Items are reduce al taglia and priced by weight. There aren’t any service ovens, so the items should not reheated.

Antico Forno Roscioli additionally gives fresh-baked breads, pastries and cookies. Their Pane ai Noce is a naturally leavened fireplace bread full of each walnuts and hazelnuts, with the almost-burnt crust that marks Roman bread-baking custom.

If you buy certainly one of their loaves, make certain to stroll to the tip of the road and go to their cheese store, Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina, at 21 Through dei Giubbonari. Ask for a cheese advice and perhaps some salume to enrich your bread. No respectful customer to Rome can be with out these three staples within the resort room for late-night or early-morning snacking.

In the event you’re there early sufficient within the day (by 11:00 a.m., you may be too late!), buy one or two of the millefoglie (flaky pastry) al cioccolato e noci—laminated yeasted dough layered with chocolate, cocoa and walnuts. In the event you can handle to save lots of one for later, it goes fantastico with a caffe doppio (double espresso) and makes an incredible afternoon snack.

Antico Forno Roscioli suits the array of Roman pizza someplace between the traditional simplicity of Forno Campo de Fiori’s pizza bianco and Bonci Pizzarium’s extra elaborate pizza Romana. Whichever one you go to, make certain to discover a candy spot to sit down—one with an incredible view—to savor this in style avenue meals within the genuine Roman type!

Michael Kalanty is the creator of The best way to Bake Bread and The best way to Bake Extra Bread. He’s the previous govt bread baker for Le Cordon Bleu, a community of culinary and hospitality faculties, and is presently an unbiased product developer for the baking trade who works with Johnson & Wales College.