When in Rome, do as the Romans do… this means eat pizza. I’m not talking about the stuff one gets at Pizza Hut or Dominos. I’m talking thin crust, wood-oven baked, oozing with the freshest mozzarella pizza. I’d even venture to say that making pizza in Italy is practically an art form and, in Rome, the Michelangelo of pizzerias is most certainly La Pizzeria Da Baffetto.
Baffetto has the reputation of serving the best Roman style pizza in the city, and it certainly lives up to the hype. Located just off of Piazza Navona, the small pizzeria always has a line of tourists and locals alike waiting to be called inside. Gina, Andrea, our Roman Friend, and I saw this to be true, despite the fact that we arrived when it was still early for dinner (only about 7:00 pm). We were able to shove our way to the front of the line (or hoard of people, to be more accurate) and get seated after only waiting a few minutes.
The restaurant looks deceivingly small from the outside with only one tiny room visible from the street. There is, however, a small dining room upstairs as well which is where we were seated. The energy in the room was high as excited patrons were herded to their seats by the practiced wait staff that quickly threw paper tablecloths down on the tables and dispersed menus throughout the room, making it clear they had done this many times before.
While the waiters were experts at getting their customers in, fed, and out, the service itself was not stellar (another reputation the pizzeria has).When we finally decided what to get, we waived down our server, who was in constant motion the entire evening, and gave him our order. We hoped that he got everything down that we wanted, for his attention seemed to be focused elsewhere while he was at our table. Oddly enough, this lack of customer service made me enjoy the dinner even more. Instead of being frustrating, I found it to be entertaining. It suited the environment we were in.
First up, as per usual, the antipasti. Andrea and Gina each got bruschetta, and I got crostini. Andrea informed us that in a place like Baffetto, fried foods, like the ones I got in the Jewish Ghetto, are actually the norm, but the toasted bread starters looked too good to pass up. And good they were. Andrea got the bruschetta mista and Gina got the prosciutto mista. They both had toasted bread with tomatoes, cannellini beans, marinated mushrooms, and olives, but Gina’s also had slices of smoked ham.
My crostini was toasted bread topped with melted mozzarella cheese and anchovies, a newfound love of mine (shocking as that may be for my parents). I loved how the saltiness of the anchovies cut through the creaminess of the cheese. It was simple and delicious.
Simple and delicious seem to be the characteristics of all the food at Baffetto, for our pizzas certainly fit the description as well. Andrea’s pizza came with mushrooms and ham, Gina’s had arugula and smoked beef, and mine came with onions and mushrooms. The waiter brought them all over at once, even though they were a good 12 inches in diameter (3 proved to be nothing for him; we later saw him carry seven pizzas at once- that takes skill).
The pizzas all had a super thin, crispy, and slightly charred crust. The crust was so thin that the only way to eat a slice with your hands was to fold it in half or else the toppings would fall off.
We finished eating just as the first seating of diners was coming to an end. Most of the people who sat down the same time we did had left and new paper table cloths were being laid down. We figured we should probably leave before rush number two so that we were not in the way (and so we did not get knocked around in the chaos). As we walked out the door, we passed the every growing line of people eager to get called in to eat at La Pizzeria Da Baffetto, and I smiled knowing that their wait would be well worth it.
La Pizzeria Da Baffetto
Via del governo vecchio, 114
Phone +39 06.6861617