Arriving in Rome and in need of something quick and truly Roman go directly to the Campo de' Fiori. Once there, make your way through the vegetable stalls and flower carts to find a mecca for pizza enthusiasts,Forno Campo de' Fiori. I have a memory of our first pizza there, where the timid may find themselves sensa (without) pizza! We did manage, however, to get pizza, a pizza bianca (white pizza) with anchovies and zucchini flowers. Outside, we stood with the crowd in the campo eating this delightful creation out of the paper it was wrapped in. We did return for a second piece and walked to the quieter Piazza Farnese, where we sat and savored our second portion, it was unbelievable!
So why is Roman pizza so good? We have heard different theories on this, one person said it is the water, others say the olive oil, still others believe it is the mere fact of being in Rome. Well, at the Forno Campo de' Fiori they have been making pizza for over 200 years, so skill may have a lot to do with it!
For a different experience, with equally good pizza, there is Lo Zozzone, near Piazza Navone.
Here there are tables, inside and out, so pizza can be enjoyed with a glass of wine or beer.
Eating pizza in Rome has inspired us to create a version that we make in our kitchen. James takes the lead in this pizza bianca preparation.( This is best cooked on a pizza stone, which should be preheated in the oven.)
3 cups all purpose flour (or Italian flour)
1 teaspoon yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated (optional)
cornmeal for dusting pizza stone
kosher salt , good olive oil(EVOO), fresh herbs, such as rosemary, for coating
In a warm bowl add 1 1/3 cups tepid water, dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon of yeast with 1 teaspoon sugar (to proof), stir to dissolve. Wait, about 5 min. , for a bloom to appear, meaning the yeast is active. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 cups of flour to make a 'sponge', scraping flour from sides of bowl. Add 2 teaspoons salt ( and the optional parmesan cheese). Gradually add up to 1 cup of flour, mix and knead with the dough hook of an electric mixer (or mix by hand). Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding additional flour if needed. Knead until an elastic ball is formed, continue to add flour until the dough feels firm, yet somewhat sticky. Turn dough into an oiled bowl and cover. Let dough rise until 1 1/2 times or double in bulk, punch down and cover again for a second rise. When double in bulk again, punch down and divide into 3 balls . On a floured surface, press one ball (cover other 2), flatten into a disk. With hands (or rolling pin)spread dough as thin as you like. Transfer dough to a pizza peel that has been dusted with cornmeal. Using the tips of your fingers create small depressions across the surface, and drizzle with olive oil ( EVOO), sprinkle with kosher salt ( add chopped fresh herbs, optional). Carefully slide dough onto a pizza stone, that has been preheated, into a hot, 500 degree oven. (if you do not have a pizza stone,dough can be baked on a oiled baking sheet).
Bake for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, slice and serve warm. (freezes well up to 2 weeks)
Pizza can be topped or sliced and stuffed with cheese, mortadella, fresh tomato, etc.