We came, we saw, we ate pizza.
That's how you roll in Rome. Carb-heavy. Pasta with every meal. Pizza on every corner. But if you're lucky, you'll find slices that are worth the trip and the caloric load.
Not far from The Beehive, where we stayed, we discovered a good neighborhood pizzeria on Via Merulana. (I was a bit tired at the time, but I believe the place in question was Cecchini Vincenzo E C (SNC), Via Merulana 203.)
Offering indoor and outdoor seating, the traditionally light Italian beers (including a local brew on draught) and a variety of by-the-slice options which made a tasty introduction to a commonplace local pizza style; unlike crisp Neapolitan pizzas, Roman slices are thicker and more like topping-covered foccacia.
Pizza with tuna and spinach at the back, sun-ripe tomatoes in the foreground
Shouldn't every pizzeria have an ingredient pig?
The Via Merulana pizza gets the trademark "upskirt" treatment, a la Adam Kuban's pizza blog, Slice
I spent a jetlag-y second day at Vatican City, a place that requires its visitors to pay their 12 Euro admission and move through the place with quiet, efficient fluidity. A perfect alignment, actually, since exhausted tourists are mostly only capable of bumping along like mute cattle.
The art at Vatican City? Stunning. Slices at the Vatican City pizzeria? Eh, not so much.
The Vatican slices are bready and limp. The cheese is bland. This pizza may somehow be blessed by virtue of its proximity to the Pope, but it's desperation food, not manna from heaven.
Angel meets farmer on the gorgeous Vatican ceilings
Harried staff at the Vatican pizzeria
A heavenly pie? Maybe not.
To find the a slice that could properly be deemed "heavenly," you'll need to go farther afield. You'll need to walk the streets of Rome's student neighborhood in San Lorenzo.
As superb as they are, the slices at Come Manna del Cielo don't get a lot of press. Do a Google search, and you'll find the place gets almost no press at all. That's probably because you'll find none of the standard tourist attractions in San Lorenzo. It's a bit run down as a neighborhood, and the old man who runs Manna creates his art within a spare, closet-sized stand.
And for what may just be the tastiest slice in all of Rome, you'll likely have no wait at all. You'll probably even score one of the three plastic chairs out on the curb.
Come Manna dal Cielo (Like Manna from Heaven)... And it really is
A Manna slice gets the upskirt shot.
Zucchini & red pepper paste alongside covered slices of broccoli pesto with sweet sausage
If you go, you'll find that the public's loss is your gain. Made with the most basic ingredients, this crust is perhaps the lightest, finest cracker I've ever experienced.
Toppings range from standards of the highest quality (buffalo mozzarella, artisanal provolone) to innovative delights (whitefish & orange; zucchini & pepper paste; broccoli pesto & sweet sausage; anchovy & squash blossom).
Fellow customers will take you aside and whisper that what you've found is no ordinary pizza. This place is special. This man is an artist. These simple slices are infused with a divinity that can only be bestowed by one of pure heart and generous intent.
Like bedazzled pilgrims, we hungrily returned for heaven-sent slices each day for the rest of the trip. I wish my fellow Roman travelers similar good fortune.
Cecchini Vincenzo E C (SNC)
Via Merulana 203
Vatican City pizzeria
Come Manna dal Cielo
Via del Latini 68/70
Meanwhile, if you missed the previous Italy entries, you'll find the Quick Bites Rome rundown here and the joys of Italian cheese-making here.
Ciao for now!