Lately the pizza in Rome has definitely gone up a notch.
This is probably due to competition, the internet, and the increased availability of information about how to spot a "good" pizza place.
So let's talk about where you can get some of this fabulous pizza.
Pizza may have been invented in Naples but different regions of Italy offer different versions of "local" pizza.
Romans love their pizza and are very proud of the way it’s made here. I may be a bit biased but Roman pizza is my favorite too!
In Rome, you will find pizza a few different ways.
And here's everything you need to know about finding and eating pizza in Rome:
By the way, my picks are pretty varied, and I've got some unique secret spots in there too.
Before we get into where to find the best pizza in Rome, I want to explain to you what "best pizza" means. The word "best" is subjective, right?
Well, if you are not Italian, you may not be aware that there is something Italians judge food by, in particular how they judge pizza. We non-Italians probably do not consider this factor, and may find it odd, even funny.
I confess to having become full-blown Italian where pizza is concerned, because I, too, now judge pizza by this one criterion.
Yes. Is the pizza, no, is the CRUST digestible?
What? You didn't think about that before?
Let me ask you this. Have you ever eaten pizza and afterwards, felt like you had a ball of dough in your stomach? Exactly.
I have heard Italians say "this pizza is so good, I can feel myself digesting it while I eat it."
I kid you not. And now, I say things like this, too.
OK so what makes a pizza digestible? The crust.
And what makes a crust digestible? Obviously the ingredients are important.
But there is another factor: How long you let the dough rise. A good minimum is 48 hours. And 72 hours is best. This is why one of the places on my best pizza in Rome list is called "Pizzeria 72 Ore." Literally, Pizzeria 72 hours.
So think about what it means when someone whips up pizza dough and immediately makes a pie out of that dough and pops it in the oven. I won't say it's indigestible but I will say it is much less digestible than 48-hour or better-yet, 72-hour dough!
So now we can talk about what makes pizza "the best pizza in Rome."
Of course quality toppings are also important.
But when seeking out quality pizza in Rome, you should look for a place that proudly announces how they prepare their dough. What ingredients they use, and how long they let it rise.
Maybe this seems obvious but I figured you might want to know about Roman dining customs, in particular where eating pizza is concerned.
Below, I'll describe more fully how Romans eat pizza in each category, but in a nutshell, here are a few quick notes:
And now, what you were looking for. The best pizza in Rome.
Some of my faves appear on plenty of "best pizza in Rome" lists.
But I have a few of my own, including some secret spots that will keep you in pizza heaven all over the city. Here we go!
In Rome, pizza by the slice, or pizza al taglio (which literally means “cut pizza”) is usually something to have for a mid-morning snack, a quick lunch, or a late-night nosh.
Pizza by the slice places are almost always stand-up only, or take-out.
The pizza is either made in a large rectangular pan, in an electric oven, or like long flat hand-formed “tongues”, in a wood-burning oven.
The ingredients are usually simple, as the pizza crusts are so thin. Often you will find pizza without cheese, or without tomato.
Many pizza by the slice places in Rome are now offering some sort of dessert in the form of pizza stuffed with Nutella and ricotta. It’s really almost impossible to resist this!
In either case, you will see what is available behind a glass counter.
The pizza is then cut with a scissors or a knife and then weighed.
You can get it reheated if you like. (Many Romans prefer their pizza at room temperature. I love mine piping hot, especially if it is newly made.)
Not all pizza in Rome is created equal. Some places are wonderful and some just average (Why waste calories on mediocre?)
And while I don’t list every single fabulous place to eat pizza in Rome by the slice (there are probably hundreds, if not thousands), here is my list of my favorite pizza by the slice in Rome:
This little unassuming spot behind the Pantheon in Piazza Sant'Eustachio is part of the trifecta of perfect Rome food - there's Sant'Eustachio coffee, Günther Gelato, and this superb pizza by the slice.
Choices may be limited due to the small size of the place, and there is literally nowhere to sit, but you can either eat right at the counter, take it to go, or take your pizza and prop your tray on one of the delivery carts in front and enjoy your piping hot 72-hour pizza.
Gabriele Bonci's pizza has become synonymous with gourmet pizza by the slice in Rome.
This slightly out-of-the-way pizza stop is worth a visit for its scrumptious crust and unusual and savoury toppings.
Sautéed onions, herbs and ricotta? Roman broccoli with pecorino? Bring it on!
For me, it's also worth the visit just to sample the unusual supplì (fried rice balls.) Normally, supplì are made with a tomato-y rice that is stuffed with mozzarella and breaded and fried.
At Pizzarium, they have taken the rice ball to a higher art form: On recent visits I've tried the supplì with gorgonzola (a kind of sharp Italian blue cheese) and radicchio (swoon!), and zucchini flowers with pecorino (less savoury than you might think but still divine.)
A friend tried their lasagne bolognese supplì which was literally lasagne (no rice involved) that had been breaded and fried. I believe his exact words were "omg".
Pizza joints in Rome don't come much divier than this.
You could easily walk by this place.
You could also walk in, look around, and go, meh, not so interesting.
But it actually is interesting.
They sell roasted chicken, porchetta, Sicilian (thick) pizza, and of course, pizza al taglio.
And divine pizza al taglio it is.
One bite and you'll be delighted by the crispy crust, soft and light middle, and simple but fresh toppings.
And yeah, I can feel myself digesting it while I eat it.
Pretty much since I've lived in Rome, one of my favourite places for pizza by the slice is Quelli di via Nizza.
I love their pizza with sun-dried tomatoes (no cheese, just very juicy tomatoes and parsley); their pizza with mushrooms and creamy cheese (no tomato sauce, creamy but not too heavy); their caprese pizza (fresh mozzarella strips, fresh diced tomatoes, parsley and a light slather of mayo - yes I know!! Mayo! But it’s awesome!).
Even their plain cheese and tomato (Margherita) pizza is one of the best of its kind.
It is nearly always packed in here, with good reason. I just find a spot at the minuscule counter on the back wall and enjoy my pizza along with everyone else.
Another of my favorites for pizza in Rome by the slice is Cerulli.
Cerulli is only open during the day, closing around 2:30-3pm, or when they run out of pizza and customers. They form the pizza into long “tongues”, and then it goes into a wood-burning oven.
It comes out with those long wooden palettes we have come to think of as classic pizza palettes.
The flavors here are very classic Roman (you won’t find tuna, mayo, salmon etc on these pizzas.)
The ladies behind the counter have been there for ages, and know their customers well (how do they always know I want more than I asked for?)
At lunchtime, the pace is very brisk, quick-lunch Roman style (this is a paradox, usually things happen in Rome veeeery sloooowly.)
You step to the counter, and start telling the server what you want, and she starts cutting. You try to say, wait, not that much! But she says, it’s ok, you’ll eat it. Next flavor?
And so you happily get a bunch of flavors on a tray, and then take it to some spot either at the thin counter along the wall or at the communal tables in the back you find during the packed lunch hour, so you can enjoy your well-earned lunch.
One nice thing about Cerulli is they have a seating area in the back. It's one of the few pizza by the slice places in Rome that does.
It is hard for me to pick a favorite flavor here, as they are all amazing: funghi porcini, zucchini flower and anchovies, white mozzarella and anchovies, even just the margherita is divine.
Alice is a mini-chain (at this writing, there are about 20 Alice pizza in Rome.) I have found the pizza to be consistently good at almost all of them, in particular the ones on via di San Basilio and on via Magna Grecia.
Their pizza is cooked in rectangular pans, in an electric oven and is very high quality, with excellent flavors.
My go-to pizzas at Alice are the zucchini flowers with anchovies (can you tell I like anchovies?), the eggplant parmesan, the potato, and the plain old margherita.
Typically, Romans have round pizza for dinner, usually not lunch (for lunch, there is pizza by the slice.)
Actually this is slowly changing. I've been spotting Italians having whole round pizza even for lunch at the few places that serve it at lunchtime.
Romans will go out to either a pizzeria (where only pizza and related items are served…not pasta or other dishes), or to a restaurant that also serves pizza.
The tradition is to get a few fried appetizers and some beer, and then each person orders the pizza they want. (Each pizza is meant to be a meal for one person, although you can certainly share.)
The pizza comes out whole, and you eat it with a knife and fork.
Note I said that the tradition is to have beer with pizza in Rome. I learned this from my Italian friends.
I always used to order wine, as I thought, we are in Italy, there is wine.
But oddly, it does not actually go that well with pizza.
In fact, most traditional Rome pizzerias don’t have a very good wine selection and instead focus on having a good beer selection.
I never was a big beer drinker, but when it comes to pizza, I have come to appreciate it and it definitely works!
What makes a pizzeria great?
Of course there must be excellent pizza, with fresh, flavorful toppings. The crust must be perfectly crisp, and easy to digest.
But it’s also important to have fabulous fritti (fried appetizers), which are a standard for (almost) any pizza dinner. Fritti that are overdone, not flavorful, dry, or rubbery, is something that can turn me (and most Romans) away from a pizzeria.
Classic appetizers to have before you get your pizza in Rome:
Supplì are a Roman specialty: an oblong ball of rice and tomato sauce, with a soft mozzarella middle, that's breaded and fried.
Arancini originally come from Sicily, and when you get them in Rome, they are round, and don't have the tomato sauce.
In Rome, you will more commonly find supplì than arancini.
Zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and an anchovy, then battered and fried. When these are done right, they are almost like tempura and the cheese should be nice and gooey.
Sometimes when I go for pizza in Rome, I get fried zucchini flowers followed by a pizza topped with zucchini flowers! It's zucchini flower/anchovy heaven!
Battered cod. Heaven on a plate.
Green olives, stuffed with minced pork, then breaded and deep fried. These must absolutely be tender and juicy!
So when I think of where I love to have pizza in Rome, I also think of where I love the fritti.
Roman-style pizza is round, with a very thin-crust, and usually cooked in a wood-burning oven.
The bottom usually has little burnt, charcoaly bits but otherwise should be nice and crisp and never soggy. The word for this in Italian is scrocchiarella.
These pizzas are topped with cheese or not, and/or with tomato or not.
The other toppings vary but again, owing to the thin crust, the tradition is to have very few toppings. So the pizza has to be fabulous because it cannot hide behind/under the toppings!
There are a lot of websites and blogs with opinions all over the map (literally) about where the best pizza in Rome can be found.
I keep changing my mind about it for myself. But here is my round-up for pizza places I love:
Since Emma came on the scene a few years ago, it quickly became Alessandro's number one.
He is a pretty discerning Roman pizza eater so I defer to him. But the truth is, I agree.
The pizza here is consistently great.
They have excellent fritti (they are one of the few places to offer fried zucchini flowers without anchovies for those who can't stand anchovies.)
My favorite pizzas are pretty consistently a "pizza napoli" (tomato, mozzarella, achovies, see above photo), and zucchini flowers with anchovies.
Alessandro changes it up but one he particularly loves here at Emma is with smoked salmon. I must agree, it's scrumptious.
And they serve a lot of other food as well, all of it with top quality ingredients, and in a nice, airy, spacious ambiance.
They have a small outdoor seating area. Booking here is essential.
San Marco is a spacious, modernly decorate restaurant serving mostly local, Roman fare.
Located just off the via Veneto, in the quiet Ludovisi district, they have an immense pizza menu but also have plenty of other things to enjoy.
Their pizza is perfectly made in a wood-burning oven, with just that right amount of underneath burnt crispiness. Their fritti are also fantastic and we often go here just for the fried appetizers and pizza.
The ambiance is modern, with soft tones and high ceilings…but the food, including the pizza, is mostly Roman cuisine. It also seems a bit empty if you go early, because it’s a Roman hangout spot and the Romans don’t get there until after 9, and then it gets really busy, especially on weekends.
This is pizza Romana old-school.
There is no fancy decor.
You can't reserve. You just show up. There are tons of tables and service is brisk, so you won't be here that long, which also means if you come and there's a wait, the wait won't be long either.
Pizza is perfectly scrocchiarella as it should be. Toppings are basic, and the fritti are made in-house and they rock.
Located in the Celio neighborhood to the side of the Colosseum, Li Rioni is another local favorite for pizza in Rome.
One reason it's so fun to eat there is the interior decor, which is made to look like an old Roman neighbourhood (hence its name.)
If you go after 8, you won’t find a table, so book ahead. Their fritti are delicious and their pizza is just right.
They have delicious, crispy Roman pizza, made in a giant wood-burning oven.
And, even if it's not for me, they also make a delicious (I've been told) gluten-free pizza.
They also other dishes on the menu, and I love them, too. Their artichokes (when in season) are excellent, and their pasta and seafood are top notch as well.
These things make Arancio D'Oro a great post-shopping stop to plop down for a quick, very casual, inexpensive meal.
This one is one of my go-to spots for pizza in Rome, when I don't mind going a bit further from the center.
In the Tuscolano neighbourhood, it is worth the little trip out there.
Pizzeria Moma has it all: awesome fried appetizers, a nice, relaxing ambiance but above all, just amazing pizza.
Their fried zucchini flowers are divine, and we recently tried an upside down endive/anchovy torte (typically Roman) which was phenomenal..
The suppli here are not your ordinary suppli: other than just rice and tomato and cheese, these are mixed with chicken innards and fat (the old-fashioned way to make supplì in Rome), to give them a super-textured, super-flavored yumminess. (They are actually called supplizi on the menu.)
I love a thin Roman crust and this one is ideal: thin yet chewy and crispy at the same time. So light you digest it while you eat it.
Friends of mine live near the Colosseum, so I eat at Pizzeria alle Carrette often.
This is typical pizzeria where you will only find pizza, fritti, bruschetta, salads, and calzones on the menu.
Their fritti are excellent. We often get the fried artichokes (these are not the Roman artichokes alla giudia, Jewish-style. These are small pieces of artichokes that have been battered and fried. Mmmmm. Add some salt and a squeeze of lemon…and it’s worth going here just for these!)
I go for the overall experience: it's right in the center so easy to get to; in summer, you can eat outside, and in winter I like to get a table that has a wall between my table and the ovens, which is nice and toasty.
Fermentum pizzeria will be out of the way for most people but it’s a special pizzeria for a few reasons: One, it’s sitting inside of the “Parco degli Acquedotti”, or Aqueduct Park.
So if you sit on the veranda, you will have lovely views.
Two, they make their pizza from a 70-year old starter of sourdough (“lievito madre”), mixed with other whole wheat flours, which gives their pizza a very light, digestible crust.
This pizza above, called "Margherita DOC", is outrageously good.
The buffalo mozzarella just melts into the fresh tomatoes, creating a kind of creamy tomato sauce on top. The fresh basil pops, making this seemingly simply pizza a burst of complex and delectable flavours in one bite.
They also have on the menu, a selection of anticrisi, or "anti-crisis" pizzas. the basic Margherita, with regular mozzarella and tomato sauce, is a very anti-crisis price of only 6€!
And their fritti! My zucchini flower came out in its own little paper bag, piping hot and perfectly melted mozzarella and just the right touch of anchovy inside. Heaven! And their fried baccalà, as they say, like butter!!
Third, they specialize in microbrews and Belgian beers so if you are really into beer, this is also part of the fun.
Pizza was invented in Naples, so they do have a right to have a claim to fame when it comes to pizza. Some Romans will even tell you they prefer pizza Napoletana. (Shhhh, don't tell anyone I said that!)
In Naples, the pizza is breadier, softer and has a slightly thicker crust, with edges that puff up.
The classic pizza Napoletana is a plain margherita, which has a light slather of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves (the colors of the Italian flag.)
In Rome, you can now find some pretty true-to-life pizza Napoletana.
There are also a lot of places serving pizza that is sort of Napoletana, but really kind of a hybrid. It's got a thicker crust, puffy edges, and a whole lotta toppings going on.
So let's start with where you can find true Neopolitan pizza in Rome. Then we'll get to the hybrids, which are all the rage in Rome lately.
There are a quite few places where you can get authentic Napoletana pizza in Rome. Here are only a few that I've tried:
Alla Soffitta - this one is one of only 4 pizzerias in Rome that are sanctioned by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, or AVPN, which stands for True Neapolitan Pizza Association. They are very strict and very serious about who can belong (see their website).
Sorbillo - Two addresses, one near Piazza Augusto Imperatore (so not far from the Spanish Steps), and the other on the 6th floor food hall of Rome's flagship Rinascente department store, also not far from the Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain.
There is a lot of pizza in Rome right now that is a kind of hybrid - not quite thin, burnt, crispy crust pizza Romana, and not really true pizza Napoletana. This hybrid pizza has a delicious crust (digestible), puffy edges, and flavorful, if not utterly gourmet toppings.
This pizza in Rome may be the most popular and it shows no signs of fading into obscurity. So let's talk about the best hybrid pizza in Rome.
Sforno is nearly impossible to get into.
Ever since they appeared on the Tuscolana pizza scene (along with Moma and Fermentum, above), they have become the hot spot for pizza in Rome, and with good reason. Their pizza crust is divine: thicker than Roman crust, yet light and incredibly digestible.
Their toppings are mostly typically Roman, but some are more special.
One in particular, their "cacio e pepe" pizza, is an inspired creation in which the classic toppings for Roman pasta sit delectably on the pizza, with black cracklings of fresh-ground pepper dotting the fluffy cheese.
But in case you didn't get enough of that black pepper, there is a pepper mill right in the middle of the pizza. I didn't need it but it's a cute touch.
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