So here’s the thing; pizza is personal. I have come to realise this after three life-altering years in Rome.
Italians can and do spend all day talking about it because not only does the base density and overall structural integrity differ from region to region, but so do personal and locally informed preferences.
Pizza in Rome
It’s a hot topic for debate at the family dinner table, and when you’ve tried a new place, a hushed silence will fill the room as all eyes and ears gravitate your way while you deliver your verdict. It’s serious business.
If you’re Neapolitan, ye, you’re gonna want that droopiness, that swollen crust, those bubbles. That’s what I thought I wanted too.
In Rome, however, it’s all about the base. They like it crunchy. Thin and light.
The best pizza in Rome is mostly consumed al taglio – by the slice.
Look, Romans have places to be. It’s a quick slice-o-pizza and then back on the scooter and on to wherever the wind takes you. Alongside the sacred espresso, it’s about the most efficient thing you can order in Rome. And when done right, a slice of Roman pizza is a thing of beauty.
It’s the sheer amount of toppings for me.
While I’ve been mocked mercilessly by locals in the past for my loyalty to the humble marinara, I appreciate the abundance of choice. The fact that whenever the mood strikes me, I could go for a cacio e pepe topping, or maybe a sausage and broccoli, or a parmigiana, or a margherita, or four kinds of cheese, or how bout a smoked salmon and zucchini, or even a capricciosa.
Before we get into my top ten, here’s a step-by-step guide on how to order pizza by the slice in Rome. As you’d expect from Italy, there’s a ritual to it.
How To Order Your Pizza By The Slice
Roman pizza is rectangular and shoveled into ovens with a pala – kind of like a giant pizza oar. The slice, more of a square or rectangle, is as big as you want it to be. It’s sold by the gram, so the heavier the slice, the more you pay.
There will be a mouthwatering array of pizza rectangles arranged next to each other with at least a dozen different toppings.
- Step 1: Point at the one you want. (This is probably the most difficult part).
- Step 2: Your server, pallet knife in one hand, regular knife in the other, will move the pallet knife up and down across your chosen pizza, indicating a range of widths for you to choose from.
- Step 3: They will make direct eye contact with you at this point, and moving the pallet knife one way, will say; Così?– like this? And then move it up or down again until they reach that sweet spot, your perfect slice at that moment.
- Step 4: You either reply si va bene – yes, that’s good, or un po di più – a bit more, or un po di meno – a bit less.
You can also choose a corner piece or one with zero crust. Con la crosta per favore- with crust, please, or senza crosta per favore, without crust, please.
At this point, they will use the pallet knife to make the decisive incision, liberating your slice from the rest of the rectangle.
- Step 5: They’ll then take it to the scales to weigh it and then ask either if you want more by asking:
e poi?– And then? Or maybe a basta così? – is that it?
Now either choose a different topping and repeat the process or stick with your perfect slice. See how you fare. It’s very easy to get carried away the first time.
- Step 6: Finally, they’ll ask if you want it heated up; riscaldo un po?– shall I heat it up a bit? Say yes. Unless you saw them literally, just bring it out of the oven.
- Step 7: Grab a stool outside or inside (there’s usually some seating available) and enjoy. Walking and eating is not the norm in Rome, not that anyone would care if they saw you do it. But you’ll enjoy it more if you sit down for a second to savour it.
Ok, let’s get into it. Here are my top ten pizza places to check out in Rome.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Ultimately, you will be the judge of the pizza that hits the spot the best. These are just a few that have done it for me or my discerning Roman pals.
Top Ten Pizza Places To Check Out in Rome
This is a chain- but wow. You simply cannot knock the quality, and there are more Alices in central Rome than you can shake a stick at. Alice scores high on all three Cs for me. That’s crispiness, cost-effectiveness, and convenience.
Over by Cipro Metro Station (on the edge of Prati) – this place means pretty much everything, and the price is more than right. Good pizza, good supplì, good porchetta, good prices, good guys running it. It’s an all-around yes from me. Suppose you’ve been Vatican-ing all day – head on over. It’s a ten-minute walk. (Eroi means heroes, and they really are heroes of the pizza.)
This place is in all the guides, and there will be long lines, but they do this potato- yes, potato pizza (just in case you were low on carbs that day) that is to die for. It’s up to you if you can stand to wait, but I’m still smitten. (They’ve branched out and have a wine store and a deli, head to the original forno on Via dei Chiavari.
This is actually a supermarket but wait. Before you unsubscribe from this content, hear me out. They have a forno and a pizza pala deal. You get a metre’s worth of pizza with two different toppings. When you pay at the checkout, you will have priority. People will see you with your giant pizza box and just wave you past like pizza royalty.
If you’re near a Todis on your next stay in Rome and you want a pizza that is above average quality and will easily feed four people, it will be the best 10 euros you’ve ever spent. Check for locations online and if they have a forno. You can also go in and buy pizza by the slice. Head over at around 11 am for a pizza brunch take-out situation. That’s when the pizza will be at its freshest.
5. Il Fornaio
Just off Campo de Fiori, this historic forno is a baked goods paradise. The variety of pizza toppings is somewhat less here- but that doesn’t mean that the quality is in any way reduced. This historic bakery will have you in a bind. Everything looks and is good. Go for a classic margherita or a white pizza and mortadella sandwich. It always hits the spot for me.
6. Da Remo
Over in Testaccio, Da Remo is 100% Roma and adored by locals and passers through alike. You’ll get an individual round, thin, crispy pizza with top-notch ingredients. Roman pals all give these two very enthusiastic thumbs up. What better endorsement could there be?
So it might be a little out of the way- but isn’t this what you were looking for all along? A real Roman place? Packed with pretty young locals, no tourists anywhere (except you). If you’re staying anywhere on the A-line, I’d urge you to head out this way to try it. The nearest Metro stops are Ponte Lungo / Furio Camillo.
They serve individual pizzas, made in the Neapolitan style, and my favourite has to be the Boscaiola which is sausage, mushroom, and fior di latte (like a fresher tasting mozzarella sort of cheese).
Gabriele Bonci has become synonymous with gourmet pizza. The playful sign in Italian outside the forno reads Forbidden to make comparisons.
So yes, it’s going to be good. It’ll cost above average, but then the ingredients are above average. It might look like a normal pizza-by-the-slice place from the outside, but the pizza itself will soon remind you that it’s not. Expect lots of creativity and emphasis on high-quality ingredients. I love their simple mortadella pizza and their mozzarella and ‘nduja supplì.
This is an excellent spot for vegan pizza and general pizza innovation. It’s home of the pizza-burger, which they’re calling rather, unfortunately, the pizburger (but I have it on good authority that it tastes a lot better than it sounds).
10. Emma Pizzeria
Finally, for something a little more sit-down-with-a-good-glass-of-wine fancy, Emma Pizzeria near Campo de Fiori will not disappoint. Despite the touristy location, they really do deliver. While beer may be the favoured drink of choice to accompany a pizza for Italians, throw tradition to the wind and order a decent red. You deserve it. And Emma has an award-winning cantina, so they’ll have the good stuff. Salute e buon appetito.
More Pizza Places Worth Visiting
via Benedetta 23, tel. 06/5894016
Only ingredients of excellent quality for the pizza here and great house beer. Lots of tasty roman style appetizers in a great atmosphere
viale Trastevere 53/57, tel. 06/5800919
This pizzeria is an institution in Rome. Don’t expect anything formal here, and be prepared to wait before you’ll find a table, but the pizza here is authentic (thin and crunchy), and the offer of fried appetizers is worth being squeezed between strangers.
piazza Augusto Imperatore 9, tel. 06/3226273
area: via del Corso/ Babuino
This multifunctional space is a very famous address in town. It is a pizzeria but also a restaurant and a wine bar where you can even buy design kitchen tools and precious wines.
via dei Cappellari 66, tel. 06/6873462
area: Campo De Fiori
Many kinds of pizza(and toppings) in a ghost shape(after all, the name of this pizzeria means Ghostbusters) and a rich offer of Mediterranean and spicy dishes from the southern Calabria region.
vicolo delle Grotte 17, tel. 06/97277119
area: Campo De Fiori
Simple but quite elegant pizzeria and restaurant with several proposals on its menu. Crunchy, crispy Roman pizza baked in a wood oven but also grilled meat, pasta, and appetizers.