Where to Find Rome's Most Authentic Pizzerias

by Christopher Atwood

Naples may have invented margherita pizza but Romans have perfected their own style of pie. Walking the Eternal City, you'll spot signs for forni -- bakeries that serve up yeasty yumminess hot from the oven. In them, you'll find two unusual types of pizza -- pizza al taglio and pizza bianca.

In Italian, "al taglio" means by the slice. True to form, "pizza al taglio" is served in rectangular slices. This crusty cousin to focaccia can include creative toppings like potato and rosemary or zucchini blossoms. "Pizza bianca," on the other hand, is flatbread at its most satisfyingly simple -- fired dough topped with a sheen of extra virgin olive oil.

During your walk through Rome, you'll also spot your share of pizzerias. If the owners are Roman, you'll be treated to a crispy, cracker-like pie here. Roman-style pizza is baked until charred on the edges -- oozing with fresh mozzarella on top. Because Roman-style pies are thinner than their Neapolitan cousins, it's best to pick just one or two lighter toppings -- things like mushroom and cooked ham.

In the spirit of sharing the real Rome with you, we're sharing our local-approved pizza guide to the Eternal City's Top 4 Pizzerias:

1. LI RIONI (Colosseum)

When you saunter past the ruins of the Roman Forum, be sure not to miss this pizzeria beloved by locals. Located on a pedestrian-friendly side street behind the Colosseum, Li Rioni a Santiquattro (Via dei Santi Quattro, 24) serves up crispy Roman-style pizzas and hearty antipasti -- like, wood-fired crostini or "supplì" (fried rice balls stuffed with mozzarella. Avoid the tourists by dining after 8PM. You can choose between outdoor and indoor seating.

2. PIZZARIUM (Vatican)

The brain child of Gabriele Bonci, modern Italy's Michelangelo Pizza, Pizzarium (Via della Meloria, 43) fills a small store front north of the Vatican City. Specializing in "pizza al taglio" (or square pizza-by-the-slice), Bonci's institution lets you pick from a panoply of slow-leavened pizzas. Seasonal toppings span wild mushrooms, arugula / prosciutto, or cherry tomato and creamy burrata. Since you order by the slice, you can mix and match to try Bonci's various crusty concoctions.

3. DA REMO (Testaccio)

Roman pizza -- unlike its Neapolitan brethren -- is thin, flat and crispy. Think of a cracker crossed with focaccia. Cooked until lightly charred in a wood-burning oven, the pizzas at Pizzeria Da Remo (Piazza Santa Maria della Liberatrice, 44) attract crowds of locals -- hungry for their margherita or marinara pies. The setting is casual, the waiters are comical and the pizzas arrive quickly at your table. Outdoor seating is available in warmer months.

4. FORNO CAMPO DE' FIORI (Campo de' Fiori)

Tucked within the splendor of historic Rome is the humble Forno Campo De' Fiori. Inside, you'll find a pizza only served in Rome -- "pizza bianca" (white pizza). A chew chum to focaccia, "pizza bianca" is baking at its best: a plain "pizza" topped only with sea salt and olive oil. It's chewy, it's crunchy, it's moist in the middle. We swear you won't miss the tomato sauce and mozzarella.

When we send travelers to Italy, we share our trusted tips for delizioso eateries. Why? Because we want you to savor the real Italy -- where authenticity, not the tacky tourist menu, reigns.

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