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Rome’s Forno Campo de’ Fiori Pizza, At Home

I’ve recently noticed that when I think back on my recent trip to Rome, of all the amazing food I enjoyed, it’s pizza I remember best. Well, maybe it shouldn’t come as such a surprise given the city’s pizza-making notoriety, but I didn’t expect it to be the dish that would stick to my mind. During our stay in Italy’s capital, E and I had pizza at many different trattorie, but the one pizza I remember best and still long for, months after, was the one served by weight at a take-out counter. Forno Campo de’ Fiori was always packed: keeping my place in line without being passed by locals used to the place’s chaotic ordering and check-outing process was always a bit of a sport, but the prize was absolutely worth the struggle.

Forno Campo de’ Fiori

Forno’s pizza is cooked as 6-foot long pies and is served with different toppings, but the combinations are always very simple. Usually, two or three carefully chosen ingredients garnish the pizza’s crunchy dough, but the place is also famous for its minimalist pizza bianca, topped only with olive oil and coarse sea salt, which should become the poster-child for the merits of culinary simplicity.

Forno Campo de’ Fiori’s Pizza Bianca:
Forno Campo de’ Fiori's Pizza Bianca

We loved Forno’s so much that we went back to taste many varieties but our favorite was the zucchini pizza – the soft, nutty taste of thinly sliced zucchini combined with the milkiness of fresh mozzarella, contrasting with the crust’s saltiness was an absolute chef d’oeuvre and we went crazy for it. Seriously, I could have eaten that pizza every day for a week. Of course, the fact that we enjoyed our €2 slices sitting on the rim of Campo di Fiori’s fountain under the warm fall sun, while we watched busy and elegant Romans walk by didn’t hurt to imprint the souvenir upon my memory either.

Campo de’ Fiori’s Zucchini Pizza:
Campo de' Fiori's zucchini pizza

Picture-Perfect Campo de’ Fiori, Rome:
Market day, Campo de' Fiori, Rome

Back home, I started to experiment making Roman pizza, wanting to come as close to Forno’s as I could. Much of the success depended on the crust’s crispiness, which was difficult to achieve in a regular home oven. Also, as I usually made the pizza dough in my bread machine, my efforts produced a crust which rose too much during the baking process, even when rolled paper-thin.

Then the “new” Bon Appetit came along, with its first Italy-focused issue. I bought it out of curiosity, and found a recipe for Roman pizza that felt very close to the goal I was trying to reach. I couldn’t resist trialing the recipe just a couple of days after. I kneaded the dough by hand and noticed right away that it stretched very easily and held its shape even after being rolled extremely thin. I felt hopeful and garnished the pizza with a classic tomato,mozzarella di bufala,  and fresh basil combination. The result was flabbergasting in its deliciousness: I couldn’t have come closer to the goal I was trying to reach. We wolfed down the first pie and I promised to quickly make the zucchini variety – which I did a couple of days later with equal success.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil & Rocket Roman-Style Pizza

I now believe I have found the perfect Roman-style pizza dough. If you like thin, crispy pizza, I believe you’ll fall in love with it too. Don’t be put off by the idea of making your own dough by hand, it’s a lot quicker than you think – believe me, I don’t have a lot of patience for dough but this one was easy. Once you have made the dough, the key to the perfect pizza is keeping the toppings simple and using the very best ingredients. Now is the time to use your best olive oil, to splurge on mozzarella di bufala and to sprinkle liberally with precious fleur de sel. Your taste buds will thank you.

Zucchini, Buffalo Mozzarella & Thyme Roman-Style Pizza

Roman-Style Pizza Crust

Adapted from Sarah Tenaglia and Selma Morrow, Bon Appétit Magazine

Rolling the dough extra-thin and the use of a pizza stone to bake the pizza are essential to get a crispy Roman-style crust. This recipe is for the crust only; choose the topping you want to try (see recipes below) and read recipes carefully to multi-task while the pizza dough is resting.

2 tsp sugar
1½ tsp active dry yeast
2½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
2¼ cups (plus more for dusting) all-purpose flour

Combine ¾ cup warm water (100°-115°F), sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until spongy, 4-5 minutes. Mix in 1½ tbsp oil and 1 tsp salt. Stir in 2¼ cups flour. Turn out onto a work surface; knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour when the dough is sticking, about 6 minutes total (I kneaded for exactly 6 minutes and it was perfect). Grease a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add dough, cover bowl with plastic; let rise until doubled, about 1½ hours.

Meanwhile, position one rack in top third of oven and another in bottom third; place a pizza stone on top rack and preheat oven to 500°F. Preheat for 45 to 60 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. At this point, you can wrap the dough balls individually in plastic and store in the refrigerator for a couple of days, or store in a plastic storage bag in the freezer for 1 to 2 months.

To roll the dough: Sprinkle countertop and a dough ball with flour. Roll out dough very thinly in a large rectangle with rounded corners (it doesn’t have to be perfect; in fact, it’s more authentic if it isn’t!). The thinner you manage to roll the crust, the crunchier it will be. I like to go as thin as ¼-inch, but you can go thicker if that’s what you prefer.

Rolling out the pizza dough 1/4-inch thick.

Cut out a piece of parchment paper big enough so it’ll hold the pizza dough. Fold the dough in half and transfer to the parchment paper (the paper will make it easier to transfer the pizza to the oven, as the thinness of the crust would make it virtually impossible to slide the pizza off onto the stone). Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

The dough is now ready to garnish with the toppings of your choice. Here are my two favorite recipes:

Zucchini, Buffalo Mozzarella & Thyme

Inspired by Forno Campo de’ Fiori

Zucchini, Buffalo Mozzarella & Thyme Roman-Style Pizza

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, best quality, plus more for drizzling
1 clove garlic
2 small zucchini (using yellow and green zucchini makes the pizza extra-pretty)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 ball of buffalo mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 tbsp picked fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper and fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt

Prepare ingredients: Pour ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil in a little bowl. Smash the garlic clove with the side of a knife, then put into the olive oil to infuse. Slice both zucchini in extra thin slices (a mandolin makes this super fast and easy to do).

Roll out one ball of dough very thinly and let rest on parchment paper, as instructed above.

Garnish the pizza dough:

1. Brush dough generously with garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil
Brush dough generously with garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil.

2. Sprinkle a third of the grated parmigiano-reggiano over the dough, then distribute the slices of buffalo mozzarella.
Sprinkle a third of the grated parmigiano-reggiano over the dough, then distribute the slices of buffalo mozzarella.

3. Place the thin zucchini slices over the pizza in an overlapping pattern.
Place the thin zucchini slices over the pizza in an overlapping pattern.

4. Sprinkle zucchini with a generous pinch of fleur de sel (make sure the salt is distributed evenly all over the pizza), then with ground black pepper, thyme and the remaining parmigiano-reggiano. Drizzle with remaining garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil.
Sprinkle zucchini with a generous pinch of fleur de sel (make sure the salt is distributed evenly all over the pizza), then with ground black pepper, thyme and the remaining parmigiano-reggiano. Drizzle with remaining garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil.

Bake the pizza:

Using a large cutting board or a pizza peel, carefully transfer the pizza (with the parchment paper) onto the preheated pizza stone in the oven. Bake until crust is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Slice and enjoy.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil & Rocket

Adapted from Sarah Tenaglia and Selma Morrow, Bon Appétit Magazine

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Fresh Mozzarella, Basil & Rocket Roman-Style Pizza

Extra-virgin olive oil, best quality
¾ lb. cherry or grape tomatoes
¼ cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
1 ball of buffalo mozzarella, sliced thinly
Chopped fresh basil
Freshly ground black pepper and fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt

Roast the cherry tomatoes: Preheat oven with pizza stone inside as detailed in pizza crust recipe above. Scatter cherry tomatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, toss and season with salt and pepper. Place on oven’s lower rack and roast (with oven at 500°F) until skins split, 10-12 minutes. Let cool. Continue heating oven as described above.

Roll out one ball of dough very thinly and let rest on parchment paper, as instructed above.

Garnish the pizza dough:

  1. Brush dough generously with extra-virgin olive oil
  2. Sprinkle with the grated parmigiano-reggiano, then distribute the slices of buffalo mozzarella. Top with the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Bake the pizza:

Using a large cutting board or a pizza peel, carefully transfer the pizza (with the parchment paper) onto the preheated pizza stone in the oven. Bake until crust is browned and crisp, about 10 minutes.

Finish and serve the pizza: Pull the pizza out of the oven. Sprinkle with a handful of rocket leaves.

 

50 Responses to Rome’s Forno Campo de’ Fiori Pizza, At Home

  1. George says:

    this blog rules

  2. The best pizza a ever tasted . Forno in Rome

  3. Kristina says:

    Hi, this recipe looks and sounds amazing. I can’t wait to try it. Can someone tell me how long this dough can keep in the fridge and freezer? make ahead would be ideal! Thanks :)

    • You can keep the dough wrapped in plastic wrap and a freezer-safe resealable bag for 24 hours in the fridge and up to a month in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge or at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

  4. Marcy says:

    I made this dough yesterday using bread flour. I let it sit in the fridge overnight and most of the day today. Brought it to room temp. Rolled. Topped. Baked. I love this dough. I also love the parchment idea. It worked terrific. Normally I get mad because the pizza sticks to the peel and then my toppings are a mess when it finally hits the stone.

  5. Marian says:

    I just made this for lunch. The best thin, crispy pizza dough I’ve made so far! Very easy and I think any toppings would work well with the crispy base. I used homemade pesto and leftover roast duck. Odd combo, but tasted great with the wonderful pizza base!

  6. Sophia says:

    Made this crust in my stand mixer, and added in Italian herbs and garlic powder to the crust. Baked on the stone, and it was like time traveling back to Rome, with the cobblestones, the street vendors, the peroni’s…thanks for this! The Mr. and I loved it. So glad there’s more crust in the freezer!

  7. Catherine says:

    Thanks for the recipe, I too am longing to recreate that super thin base. I have a pizza oven in the garden which I am going to cook it on but don’t have a pizza stone so am going to use my 100 year old cast iron bake stone – fingers crossed!

  8. schuster says:

    I found your blog after returning from Rome and wanting to reproduce that Forno pizza. I watched those think fingers spreading and thinning that dough for an hour. Thanks so much for putting this dough recipe up and giving me such a head start. I plan to try it tonight.
    At a small place near the Pantheon I had a slice that included an egg. The combination was procuitto, artichoke, green olives and mushroom. Small amounts of each ingredient. The egg seemed poached, but I assme it was just cracked raw onto the pizza. It was incredible.

  9. [...] with ramps, asparagus, salad turnips, Swiss chard & parmesan cheese Sun. dinner: homemade pizza party with friends (+ no-bake layer bars) Mon. lunch: peanut butter sandwich & banana Mon. [...]

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