Rome: a city that brims with ancient structures, narrow streets, hoards of tourists, and plenty of good pizza. Of course, pizza in Italy comes in many styles. Most prevalent in Rome are the to-go version (pizza al taglio) and the restaurant variety (referred to simply as pizza). When it comes to restaurant pizza, expect a fourteen-inch diameter, thin crust meal-for-one with fresh flavors, little or no grease, and a range of pre-set combinations of topping choices. As an American accustomed to disappointment in much of the pizza at home (chain places especially), Italy presents good pizza most of the time. In Rome, when it comes to restaurant pizza, I love La Montecarlo.
Located just a few blocks away from Piazza Navona in the heart of Rome's centro—ie. tourist area—La Montecarlo doesn't feel like a tourist trap: no french fries on pizza, no bow-tied employee hawking tables to every passerby, and prices that are not inflated.
La Montecarlo builds its pizza atop a thin crust with a simple, smooth tomato sauce and a sharpish mozzarella. When I say thin, I mean thin as a cracker, almost like matzoh. But despite its thinness, the crust conveys character: it's neither brittle nor dead-crunch-on-arrival, and its many dots of char enhance the flavor and do not taste burnt.
During my recent visit, before chowing on a plain Margherita (€ 5,50) the waiter invited me into the kitchen to snap a few photos of Raffaele, the day shift pizzaiolo, at work. To see photos from my visit, click slideshow above.