In Rome pizza is never more than a couple blocks away. One of the most popular styles is pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) and while it is certainly worth writing home about, it's a different slice than what exists in most places in the US. In Rome you will find long (usually 3 feet), oval-shaped pies that are baked in electric ovens and feature an airy crust topped with all kinds of vegetable and cured pork combinations. Pizza al taglio is almost always priced by weight and can be found mostly at small takeaway pizza slice shops (the shop is also referred to as a pizza al taglio) and bakeries.
Two of Rome's pizza pioneers are Stefano Callegari and Gabriele Gatti, who own several outstanding pizzerias and one pizza al taglio shop called 00100 PIZZA. The name refers to both the grade of flour, "00," used to make the dough and the postal code for Rome, 00100. This tiny place does several things differently than the competition. For starters, their slices are not sold by weight, but rather they are pre-cut and pre-priced. The crust is airier and lighter than most, due to the slow rise time of the dough. Innovative, unusual combinations top their smallish selection of pies, and every single slice is partially cooked-to-order.
My slice of choice is the Greenwich (5€ or $6.40), a white pie topped with mozzarella, Stilton blue cheese, and a splattering of Ruby port reduction. Like all of their pies, the Greenwich is an original that cannot be found anywhere else in the city. To truly appreciate the taste you must understand its carefully considered construction. The dough (a sourdough) is allowed to rise for 24 hours, giving the pizza crust its signature light, airy texture. Before it goes in the oven it is sprinkled with water then covered with aluminum foil so that the top is steamed and stays soft as the bottom gets crispy. The mozzarella and blue cheese are then added to the baked crust, but are not cooked until you place your order; this guarantees your slice will have a fresh melt. It is then topped with a drizzle of port reduction and handed to you on a wooden plank.
The balance of textures and flavors of the Greenwich are in perfect harmony starting with the crust that is lightly charred on the bottom and airy throughout. The freshly melted mozzarella coats the entire slice and gives it a uniform creaminess. All of this serves as the perfect stage to showcase the centuries-old combination of sweet flavored port with pungent, salty blue cheese. At 5€ this is no doubt a gourmet slice, but after the first bite I had forgotten entirely about the price.
Via Giovanni Branca 88 Rome, Italy 00100 (map)