There's no pizza like a Roman pizza. The Eternal City is famous for its crispy, surprisingly light pies cooked in wood-fired ovens. The dish is everywhere in the city, but finding the best pizza in Rome requires some intel. Thankfully, we've sampled (nearly) all of them, and can offer this guide to tracking down the tastiest.
A few things to know before you sit down for that pie:
- Authentic wood-fired pizza (pizza forna a legna) is eaten at dinner, not at lunch. That's because it takes hours to heat up the ovens, so authentic wood-oven pizzerias are only open at dinner.
- Handmade pies are not perfectly round; they're more oblong. Beware of 360-degree circles of pizza, as these are a sign of machine-made crusts.
- Two people splitting a pizza is frowned upon. Each diner should order their own, then trade slices at the table.
- Pizza a taglio, or pizza by the slice, is usually not wood-fired and makes a great quick lunch.
While some say that quality at da Remo has suffered in the wake of the Testaccio hole-in-the-wall pizzeria's cult-like success, they still make memorable pizzas, with crispy, slightly charred crusts covered with flavorful toppings. The raucous atmosphere is part of the experience, as is waiting in line for a table.
The line stretching out the door onto Via del Governo Vecchio is a sure sign you're at the right place. But don't worry, the line moves fast, as about half the people waiting are there for takeout. This family-friendly centro storico institution has been firing up its ovens for more than 50 years and for your money, there's no place better in the heart of touristy Rome. If the lines are too long for you, La Montecarlo, just around the corner, is a fine alternative.
Pinsere is an ancient Latin word meaning "to push the dough by hands" and many experts consider pinsa, a fluffy-yet-crispy dough with toppings, to be the precursor to pizza. Regardless of pedigree, it's the specialty at Pinsere, a tiny, standing-room-only snack stop near Termini Station. The pinsas come with traditional or creative toppings and are ready to pop in the oven.
Larger-than-life chef Gabriele Bonci is the genius behind Pizzarium's slow-rising and fluffy dough that's sold by the slice and priced by weight. Mainstream choices like Margherita (with tomato sauce and mozzarella) are always available, but don't be afraid to experiment here. Opt for non-traditional toppings like mortadella and pistachio, or broccoli and spicy salami. In addition to the original location near the Vatican Museums, there's another Bonci outlet at Mercato Centrale in Termini Station.
There's nothing fancy at this old-school Trastevere pizzeria, and that's just how the locals love it. Diners sit elbow-to-elbow—either in the nondescript interior or crowded outdoor patio—and enjoy cheap, satisfying wood-oven pizzas, in addition to fried supplì, baccalà, and a range of pasta dishes.
While the above-mentioned pizzerias may not be destinations for a fancy pizza, La Gatta Mangiona (the Greedy Cat) is the place to go for a gourmet pie. Known for its thicker, slow-rise crust and innovative ingredients, La Gatta, set in the Monteverde district, takes some effort to reach but is worth the trek. Reservations are recommended, and there's a lengthy list of wine and craft beers with which to slake your thirst while you wait for your wood-oven-fired masterpiece.
Since 1870, La Renella has been feeding hungry Romans from dawn to the wee hours of the morning, its wood ovens turning out pastries, bread, and pizza a taglio. This is a place where they don't mess with tradition, and why should they? Point to the type of pizza you want, use your hands to indicate how big a slice, and grab a cold beer. Pick one of the few seats in this narrow bakery, or simply take your pizza to go. After all, if you've been exploring Trastevere's winding streets all day, you deserve a little pick-me-up.
If you've already made the wise decision to explore Testaccio, Rome's foodie neighborhood, be sure to include a stop at Trapizzino for lunch or an afternoon snack. A trapizzino is a cross between a pizza and a sandwich, a handheld piece of pizza bianca cut open and stuffed with savory fillings of your choice. Meatballs (polpetta) and eggplant parmesan are perennial favorites.
There's a lot to love about CasaManco, a takeaway pizza stand in the lively Testaccio Market. From its friendly, family-run vibe to its tasty pizzas a taglio, topped with ingredients sourced fresh from the neighboring market stalls, pizza in Rome doesn't come much fresher or more lovingly made than this.
In a city filled with the ruins of an empire, Antico Forno Roscioli is something of an empire in its own right. Since 1972, the Forno has been serving savory and sweet baked goods and meter-long pizzas, sold by the slice, to hungry locals and tourists. Its original location, near Campo de' Fiori, is as crowded and chaotic as ever, especially at lunchtime. Unlike a lot of pizza sold by the slice, Roscioli's has a thin and crispy crust.
Like soccer, pizza is a subject of divided loyalties in Rome. And since the 1960s, Ivo a Trastevere has been pulling in loyal patrons who wouldn't dream of sitting down to pizza dinner anywhere else. With a rustic interior, a small outdoor patio, and constant crowds, Ivo still turns out perfectly charred and tastily topped pies. It's also one of the rare pizzerias in Rome where you can book a table in advance, which is a smart move.
Our first real Roman pizza encounter happened at Dar Poeta years ago and suffice it to say, the memory has endured. From the cavernous brick interior to the tiny terrace, Dar Poeta is an archetypal Roman experience. Thin and crispy pizzas churn forth from the wood oven at a dizzying pace, meaning you can have a quick dinner here before setting off to explore Trastevere's rousing nightlife scene.