This recipe will teach how to make Roman-style pizza from scratch. Inspired by the memorable pizza sold at Rome’s Forno Campo de Fiori.
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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’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:
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 de 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:
Picture-Perfect 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.
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.
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.
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