The Keys to Unlock the Best Things to Do in Rome
In this 10 part weekly guide we share the local secrets to discover the best things to do in Rome—from insider restaurant recommendations to the best places to eat in Rome and special sightseeing tips.
You can find pizza on just about every corner in this city. When did this massive Rome pizza explosion happen? Where can you eat the best Pizza in Rome? And what pizza restaurants today are pushing the boundaries for this old classic? To answer these burning questions we sat down with Rome’s top pizzaiolo, Stefano Calegari.
Stefano Calegari is one of the owners and masterminds behind the legendary 00100 Pizza, one of the city’s best pizza a taglio along with two other award-winning pizza restaurants in Rome, some call him Michelangelo of pizza dough.
Here’s what Stefano shared with Eating Italy Food Tours.
How do Romans eat pizza?
There is a lot of debate on what constitutes a Roman pizza. The classic of course is a very thin crust with a limited amount of basic toppings enjoyed in a sit-down pizzeria restaurant.
But what is also extremely Roman is pizza a taglio – pizza by the slice sold at small take-away shops. While this is not an entirely new phenomenon the concept has evolved over the years to become a major part or the Roman food culture today.
In Rome Pizza a Taglio is everywhere how did this happen?
In the 1970s I remember getting pizza by the slice (a taglio) only at the forno (bakery). Here they made fresh daily, pizza bianca (similar to focaccia without sauce or toppings) and pizza rossa (piazza bianca with tomato base). Growing in popularity, Roman pizza-makers saw a need and almost demand from the public for the availability of this kind of pizza and so this concept of a quick, almost on the fly pizza culture in Rome was born. Given there is generally no major dining area at these hole-in-the-wall type places, they are easy to open with respect to permits and licensing and that’s why you see one just on about every corner of the city.
Initially, in addition to the original pizza bianca and rossa, there were 5 classic variations of pizza a taglio, these were: 1) Margherita 2) Potato and Rosemary 3) Stuffed pizza with Prosciutto and Mozzarella 4) Mushroom 5) Ham and Mozzarella. Now of course you see many more varieties featuring all kinds of adventurous combinations.
The best way to eat your pizza a taglio is hot and it needs to be crispy! That is why even if your pizza is warm when you order it, you will always be asked if you would like it heated up for you – because crispy is the best way to eat it.
What should you know when looking for the best pizza slice?
There are two quick and easy signs to a good pizza. Crust and color.
With the crust, if you see that it curls up on the edge, steer clear. This means that the pizza dough has not been worked well. The pizza will be too dry and will have lost flavor.
Regarding color, always always make sure that the crust is golden. Not white or all one color, but it should have a gradual browning that gets darker toward the edge.
And again, always make sure you have it heated.
When you eat pizza in Rome what is your favorite place?
A personal favorite is La Gatta Mangiona in Monte Verde (which is just near Trastevere). Here they make classic round style Roman pizza and my favorite pie is the cream of chickpeas and baccala (salty cod).
This pizzeria is located at Via Federico Ozanam, 30
What’s your proudest or most creative pizza creation?
Our Cacio e Pepe pizza is one of a kind. It’s an adaptation of the quintessential Roman pasta that consists of tonarelli (spaghetti type pasta) cooked with pecorino cheese and black pepper.
When you make this Cacio e Pepe it is critical that you have some boiling hot water in the pan when you begin melting the cheese into a sauce. The way I got around this with a pizza base, was to use ice cubes! So we bake the crust with ice on top and then as the ice melts we throw on the cheese and some pepper. And since everyone like their Cacio e Pepe a little differently we always serve this pizza with a fresh pepper grinder so that our customers can make it as “peppery” as they wish.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that….
Romans probably eat more suppli’ (a fried tomato rice croquet) per capita than pizza! Speaking of which – you’ll know you’re eating a quality suppli if the rice is al dente and there is lots of sauce in the filling.
If you are coming to Rome and want to sample some of Rome’s best pizza at a true pizza a taglio, then head to 00100 Pizza and order up our favorite slice “the Greenwich”
And tell em’ Maria sent you.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with Rome Confidential in the subject title for any feedback or requests for a topic you want us to cover. Voted one of the best things to do in Rome, Eating Italy Food Tours offer a Rome walking food tour through one of Rome’s oldest and characteristic neighbourhoods.