August – writes Rhodri Jones – is fast drawing to a close and at Pizzeria da Remo, families, and neighbours are embracing, laughing and catching up with friends, following the re-opening of this neighbourhood stalwart after the long summer break.
Da Remo is exactly what you had in mind when you dreamt about finding THE perfect neighbourhood Pizzeria in the Eternal City.
Hot outside, sweltering inside, we are sitting in the direct line of the wood burning oven that the head band sporting “pizzaiolo” are running at full pelt with their pizza paddles sliding in and out of the searing hot dome at a frenzied rate.
A waiter, identified by either their green branded t-shirts or an SS Lazio polo shirt – for this restaurant follows the older of the capital’s two Seria A teams – soon catches our eye. We are then presented with a stubby biro and a dim-sum style scorecard, from which we ticked-off our list of wants.
Testaccio, the still industrial neighbourhood that hugs this middle stretch of the Tiber, may well be fast becoming a ‘hipster’ neighbourhood, but Remo is where you’ll find no-nonsense thin crust – exceptionally thin crust – ever-so slightly charred Roman pizzas that can support only the daintiest of toppings. We are talking the classics here: Margherita, funghi, Napoli, marinara. They come in two varieties the quintessentially Roman, Pizza Bianca (a simple dash of salt and olive oil) and the traditional pizza rosse (tomato based). We plumped for a Margherita con bufala and another with added salsiccia (pork sausage seasoned with fennel). Both arrived bubbling away, spilling out over their plates. And what at first sight, seemed more than somewhat intimidating, were both hungrily devoured with only minimal chat in between scoffing.
Their suppli (deep-fried balls of rice) are not as revered as some in the capital…but when in Rome…so we had two, and from their ‘fritti’ list, a fiori di zucca (fried stuffed zucchini flowers). Both were top notch.
No local craft beers here sadly, but the two malted Morretti’s went down a treat.
We could have finished up with all sorts of gelato/chocolate based indulgences, but desert for us was simply half a watermelon, crammed to bursting with sugary goodness.
By now It was just gone 11pm, the restaurant was winding down and the crew were tucking into their well-earned stone-cold birras as excited bambini continued their running between the tables, way-past their bedtimes.
Cucina Romana is said to have been born in Testaccio and the area has firmly re-established itself as a key foodie destination. And yes you can do organised food/walking tours. So a canny strategy could involve starting with an aperitivo of trappizioni, an insanely delicious white pizza pocket (ingredients a closely guarded secret) filled with everything from tripe to melanzana (aubergine) to East African stew before you tackle the main event.
Pizzeria da Remo is certainly utilitarian and cramped – no space here for that most ubiquitous of Roman tourist tat, the selfie-stick- but no-frills functional in the best possible sense.
The Denizens of the Italian capital will continue to argue over who can conjure up the best results from flour, olive oil, salt, sugar and yeast for centuries to come. While they carry on their deliberations, skip the Trevi fountain – it’s under-repair anyhow – and make some room for Remo in your list of must-do things in Rome. Their thin-crust pizzas are a thing of joy.
1 suppli 1.30 euro
1 fiori di zucca 2.50 euro
1 Margherita con bufala (pizza rosse) 8.00 Euro
1 salsiccia (pizza rosse) 7.00 Euro
Pizzeria da Remo
Piazza Santa Maria Liberatrice 44A