A niche within the fast-casual pizza world is taking off: Roman-style pizza.
Known as pizza al taglio, it’s a concept common to the streets of Rome that has come to the U.S. Typically it’s counter service, with pre-cooked rectangular sheets of pizza cut with scissors to order and priced by weight.
Roman-style pizza typically involves a slow-fermented dough that’s hand stretched quite thin. The crust is generally described as airy and light, and toppings can vary from the traditional (sopressetta and mozzarella) to more contemporary variations, like hummus and pesto.
Some serve the pizza at room temperature and others give slices a quick warming in a pizza oven to serve.
Fundamentally, it’s an experiential concept where there’s a lot of interaction between the guest and server at the counter, said Randy Clement, co-owner of the new Triple Beam Pizza in Los Angeles, developed by Nancy Silverton of Pizzeria Mozza fame.
“Roman-style pizza has no pre-determined sizes. It’s cut with scissors and it’s sold by the ounce,” he said. “It gives people the ability to get as little or as much as they like.”
Here’s a look at five fast-casual Roman-style pizza concepts across the U.S.:
Triple Beam Pizza
Silverton earlier this year opened Triple Beam in Los Angeles with Matt Molina, the former chef de cuisine at Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza, and Randy Clement, owner of Silverlake Wine.
At Triple Beam, guests indicate how much pizza they want, and a slice is cut with scissors and weighed. Prices range from about 80 cents to $1.10 per ounce, depending on the toppings.
Guests can determine whether they want the pizza at room temperature or warmed. Triple Beam uses an electric Polin deck oven, imported from Italy.
“When it gets crazy busy, the pizza keeps getting refilled and it doesn’t have time to cool,” said Clement.
Sandwiches are also on the menu and there is beer and wine. Guests can sit and eat on the patio or stand inside. There are no servers.
Down the road, Triple Beam is planning to add to-go and delivery options, Clement said.
Bonci Pizzarium; photo by Arianna Giuntini
In August 2017, Bonci Pizzarium arrived in Chicago, the first U.S. outlet for the Rome-based concept by Gabriele Bonci, who Vogue Italia magazine called the “Michelangelo of Pizza,” according to his press materials.
Chef Bonci opened the original pizzarium in Rome in 2003 with slices custom cut with scissors. In Chicago, the outlet offers up to 20 varieties daily, each with seasonal toppings, like potato, mozzarella and rosemary; or hummus, broccoli, olives and tomato pesto. Sandwiches, salads and rice balls stuffed with cheese and meats are also on the menu.
In Houston, the fast-casual Pizza Motus is scheduled for an early summer debut. Owner Will Gruy — a former motorcycle road racer who lived in Italy — described the style as light and airy in the center with a crisp bottom and a flavorful top, cut in rectangles. The restaurant will have a walk-up window and patio, and will also serve Italian ice and other sweets.
In Philadelphia, Rione Pizza debuted in May 2017. The name is from the Italian term that describes the districts, or neighborhoods of Rome.
Opened by Rome-born Francesco Crovetti, who trained at the Scuola Nazionale di Pizza in Rome and his wife Alison Crovetti, Rione offers pizza al taglio, along with other Roman-style snacks, like rice and potato croquettes, salads and tiramisu. It’s bring-your-own-beer or wine.
Rock Pizza Scissors
In a town known for the ability to grab a slice, Rock Pizza Scissors made its debut last year on Times Square in New York City. Owner Gadi Peleg reportedly was inspired by seeing Anthony Bourdain visit Bonci’s Pizzarium in Rome on television, according to Eater NY.
The tiny outlet operates out of a converted shipping container anchored by a stone pizza oven. The pizza is made from scratch daily with toppings like shakshuka or Tunisian tuna with harissa, olive, potato, fried egg and preserved lemon. Slices starting at about $7, and Rock Pizza Scissors delivers through Caviar.
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