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How To Find The Best Pizza In Rome, Italy

The best pizza in Rome is among the greatest gifts to mankind, so when you travel to Italy this should be your pizza guide for your next visit.

best pizza in rome - Wood-fired

Wood-fired Pizza Oven

The perfect mix of bread, sauce and cheese is tasty, well balanced and when done right, an almost religious experience. It is important to be familiar with the various types of pizza, and the options that may or may not be available to you, so that you can make the most out of the limited you have in Rome, and on Earth, to eat this magical food.

History Of Neapolitan Pizza

I want to clearly state that I am aware that the origins of pizza in various forms predate the commonly known origin story from Naples. If you abstract out your definition of pizza, it should be obvious that the concept of a flatbread covered in toppings was being consumed all across the Mediterranean for centuries before the Unification of Italy. It continues today with focaccia and its various toppings being enjoyed across Italy with variations in Greece and all around the Mediterranean.

Now that that is clear, I want to focus on the very limited definition of pizza as it is understood around the world. After the unification of Italy in 1861, the King and Queen of Italy were visiting Naples and they wanted to try a local version of pizza. Pizzeria Brandi created one with mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil leaves, which were supposed to represent the colors of the Italian flag. The pizza was named Pizza Margherita, as a tribute to the Queen. An interesting side-note is that tomatoes were brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, so without the Americas (North, Central and South), pizza might never have come into existence.

Varieties Of The Best Pizza In Rome

You might be surprised to learn that there isn’t a single, common type of pizza in Italy. Of course there are variations like in the US between Dominos, Pizza Hut and Papa Johns, but there are three types that are very different in both taste and way of eating it.

best pizza in rome - Roman

Roman Pizza

Roman Pizza

As you might expect, this is the most common type of pizza in Rome. This pizza is very much NOT my favorite, to the point that the first time I ate this type of pizza, I thought something bad accidentally happened to the pizza, to the oven, or to the chef who made it because it seemed wrong and in conflict to everything I believed about pizza.

Imagine my sadness when I learned that this was correctly made Roman style pizza. The crust is my biggest problem because it was not chewy at all, instead it was crunchy, thin and fell apart when you bit into it. Pizzerias in Rome typically offer the crust, without toppings, as a focaccia meant to accompany your dinner and in this format it is delicious, but not as pizza crust.

Pizza al Taglio

Best Pizza In Rome - By The Slice

Pizza By The Slice (al Taglio)

When you are out and about and you think to yourself that you could really use a slice, a pizzeria serving Pizza al Taglio is where you want to go. These are typically longer pizzas that are sliced to your requested size. They have a variety of toppings and are typically taken to eat elsewhere, although there are usually a few seats available. One of my favorite Pizza al Taglio toppings is the thinly sliced potatoes with rosemary, but they have traditional Margherita and a variety of meat and vegetable toppings.

Neapolitan Pizza

For me, this is the standard that all other pizzas are measured against. Pizza from Naples, where it was invented, is my favorite and thankfully you can get this type without needing to travel to Naples, even though you should.

Best Pizza In Rome - from Naples

Real Pizza from Naples

This crust is soft, chewy and cooked only for a few minutes in a very hot oven. The sauce is a very simple tomato, salt and olive oil mixture that is subtle and doesn’t overpower the pizza. The cheese is a buffalo mozzarella from the Campania regions, and this is so important it has a Protected Designation of Origin (DOP).

True Neapolitan Pizza

Pizza in Italy is serious business to the point that there is an organization that certifies that a pizzeria calling itself Neapolitan-style is doing it right. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was founded in 1984 in order to protect and increase the value of the pizzas produced and processed according to the old Neapolitan traditions and customs, given the spread of fast-food chains and the overuse of the denomination “Original Neapolitan Pizza”.

The Best Pizza In Rome

To be honest, there is very little value in me creating a list of the best Rome pizza because there is an almost limitless number of others doing the same thing. I also found these lists a little useless because they mix the different types of pizzas and depending on the source, there could be other influences involved. For me, these are the three pizzerias you should check out in Rome. The first two are originally from Naples and the third is a chain/franchise.

Best Pizza In Rome - al Taglio from Alice

Pizza al Taglio from Alice

  • L’antica Pizzeria da Michele – This is the best Neapolitan pizza in Rome, and definitely my favorite pizza in the world. I had a couple opportunities to enjoy this in Naples and it was a transcendent experience. I also ate at the pizzeria in Rome and the food is the same high quality, but eating in Naples was truly an unforgettable experience. The choices are limited to Pizza Margherita and Pizza Marinara and this simplicity is its strength. It puts on display the few quality ingredients that are needed to make great pizza.
  • Gino Sorbillo Antica Pizzeria – This pizzeria is also from Naples and has a location in Rome that delivers the same high quality pizza as da Michele, but has a wider variety of toppings and one of the best salads that I ever ate in my life. Gino Sorbillo is a strong promoter of pizza, but don’t mistake his passion for disingenuousness because his pizzas deliver.
  • Alice Pizza al Taglio – This is pizza by the slice, unlike the Neapolitan pizzerias, and it is a restaurant chain across Italy, Malta, Sardinia with one location in the US. I wouldn’t consider this artisan, but I’ve enjoyed their pizza for years and I’ve found it consistently delicious every time I’ve had it. If you want to eat pizza on the run, this could be a great choice for you.

Quick Pizza Culture Rules

  • Individually Sized – Pizza in Italy, apart from pizza al taglio, is for one person. The US tradition of a giant pizza in the middle of the table being shared by everyone is not the way it’s done in Italy.
  • Not Sliced – Unless it is a pizzeria that caters to the tourists, the best pizza in Italy arrives at your tables unsliced and it’s up to you to use your knife and fork.
  • No Chicken and Definitely No Pineapples – Spend any amount of time looking around the internet for pizza related topics and you will find endless admonitions to keep the Pineapples (Ananas) off of the pizza. This also goes for chicken.
  • Leave The Crust – If you are too full, but you want to enjoy the pizza without finishing it, the recommended way to handle this dilemma is to only eat the thin center of the pizza, with the sauce and cheese, and leave the soft crust. Admittedly this assumes you can leave the crust on your plate without eating it, however, this is something that I have yet to accomplish.
  • Pepperoni – Pepperoni in Italian are peppers and while you can get these on pizza, you might be surprised when you don’t get the spicy sausages you were expecting.

Does The Best Pizza In Rome Really Matter?

There is a very old joke about pizza that is even truer today as it was the first time I heard it, and it goes something like this: Pizza is like sex, when it’s good, it’s GREAT, but when it’s bad it’s still pretty good! My point with this classic bit of humor is an acknowledgement that I’m being really picky here. Even the worst pizza in Rome is fantastic so eat whatever you can find.

Finding The Best Pizza In Rome And Beyond

If you want to learn about how the best pizza in Rome is an important part of Italian food culture and day-to-day life in Italy, check out some of these other posts:

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