We got a late start Sunday and by the time we walked to the Circo Massimo market, got the stuff we planned to cook for lunch, and were most of the way back, we were too hungry to wait two hours. Emma was nearby, open, and could seat us outside, so we gave it a try.
My SuperBio pizza (margherita with all organic ingredients) was delicious but could maybe have stayed in the oven a few seconds longer, it was a bit blonde. Still haven’t made it to Baffetto to check if that’s still the one to beat.
Baffetto was widely regarded as the best pizza in Rome when we lived here in the 80s, always full of locals, not too many tourists since it was hard to deal with if you didn’t speak Italian and know the drill. It seems to have evolved into a tourist place, menus with photos and pages for 4-5 languages. Pizzas were good, but nothing special. Prices no longer notably lower than anywhere else. Check one off for nostalgia.
Ironically, neither of the two pizzas I’ve had here so far was as good as the Roman-style pizzas I had at BaoNecci in San Francisco (which I’ve heard has gone downhill, haven’t been back to verify that).
From what I read, it seems like Da Remo is the place to try.
Went to La Gatta Mangiona instead of Da Remo because reviews seemed enthusiastic and it was an easy tram ride. None of the reviews mentioned that they make Neapolitan-style pizza, so my quest for a first-rate Roman scrocchiarella continues.
Got there at 8:45. Despite it being a Monday night they were fully booked, but told us we could have a table until 10:00. Good wine and beer lists, drank a Marisa Cuomo rosé.
We ordered all chalkboard specials. For starters we shared two supplì, one with a fairly classic combination of pork ragú and pecorino romano, the other a very Indian-tasting scampi al curry.
Some bites of the “Arlequino” with fresh and grated aged caciocavallo, chunks of mortadella, roasted red peppers, pistachios, and whole black peppercorns were too dominated by the latter, otherwise it was a great combination.
If we’d realized we were ordering two bianche we’d have gotten one with tomato, oh well. The place was good enough that we might go back. Reminded me a lot of places in Oakland, down to the punky pierced and tattooed waitresses dressed all in black (for a party, not a funeral).
Contrary to Eat Rome and most other sources, they’re now open seven nights a week.
Da Remo reminded me a lot of the 80s-era Baffetto. Friendly waiters joking around, casual but efficient. Sat right down on a rainy Wednesday around 9:00, maybe it was slow because of the Roma vs. Udinese match (which caused occasional wild outbursts from the kitchen).
Bruschetta mista was very tasty. “Remo” pizza with mushroom, sausage, and eggplant had the proper char, nice and crunchy around the edges, good flavor to the crust. Not crisp in the middle, if I’d ordered a simpler pie or a bianca maybe I’d have gotten the crust crunchy all across.
It still seems weird that the best Roman-style pizza I’ve had in the past year was in San Francisco, but I have another week and change to go here.
Great value: bruschette €5 each, pizzas €8, plate of broccoletti €5, with half a liter each house red and white and 750ml water the total was €44.
Emma was fantastic - thanks for the recommendation Robert. One of the best meals we’ve had in Rome. Much less crowded than Roscioli and definitely a much more expansive menu.
The margherita pizza was excellent. The tomato sauce and tomato at most of the restaurants in Italy were so flavorful. The sauce at Emma was bursting with flavor. I am not very familiar with Roman style pizza but I can’t imagine many other pizza besting Emma.
The suppli was the best fried rice ball we’ve ever had. We’re usually disappointed with arancini but this was a superbly fried ball with tender and creamy rice. Perfectly complemented with tomato sauce and creamy oozy cheese.
The amarticiana was good but wasn’t a huge fan of the gamey pancetta. It had an extraordinary greasy and salty flavor that took away from the pasta.
If the sign says “pizzeria,” it’s a sit-down restaurant, typically open only for dinner. Traditionally each diner gets their own individual pizza.
Most Roman pizzerie make very thin and crisp pies, a la the photo from Da Remo above. However, as I learned from our visit to La Gatta Mangiona you can now find Neapolitan-style if you seek it out.
If the sign says “pizza a taglio” or “pizza rustica” they bake big sheets and sell by weight. They often close before dinner, when the shops do. Some have casual self-service seating, some no seating at all. Bonci is in a class by itself for this type.
Some bakeries sell pizza bianca, a sort of thin, crunchy focaccia, again baked in big sheets and sold by weight. Pizza rossa is the same thing with a little tomato sauce brushed on it. Some sell sandwiches between two pieces of pizza bianca. Forno Campo de’ Fiori and Antico Forno Roscioli are famous examples but there are local favorites in many neighborhoods. Anyplace you see people lining up to get it cut fresh from the oven is worth checking out.
Pinsa is a modern variation with a sourdough crust made from a combination of flours. It’s often marketed as older than pizza but that’s just poetic license.
“Roman pizza” is thus an ambiguous term and any guidebook that doesn’t give you a clue about the above is unreliable.
I’ve been wondering for a few years now if more people are traveling period. For instance, I’m on a travel site, and see that Machu Picchu in Peru is simply mobbed. Reservations required. We went there 30’ish years ago and just walked in. Had a picnic on the terraced area.
Already eight years ago Trastevere felt like 80% tourists.
In Testaccio we haven’t been seeing many, but while we were out shopping yesterday morning an English-language tour group stopped at the store where we were, and when we got back they were about to eat lunch in the obscure fiaschetteria downstairs.