We spent our holiday in Rome three years ago existing on pizza and gelato, it was pretty sweet. Rome style ‘pizza al taglio’ is cut to the size you’d like from a large tray, warmed and handed to you wrapped in paper, the perfect takeaway.
It has a very crispy base and the toppings go right to the edge. Most pizzerias will sell pizza bianca with just olive oil and sea salt, pizza rossa (with tomato sauce) alongside more complex toppings like truffle and proscuitto or courgette flowers and mozzarella. Our favourite out there was one topped with a thin layer of strong cheese and very thinly sliced potatoes (double carbs for the win).
For this post I’ve concentrated on the pizza rosso, it’s incredibly good as it is and also works as a great basic recipe if you want to add other toppings.
I’ve been trying to recreate this style of pizza at home for a little while, and hadn’t hit upon the right recipe until I thought about it differently. The base is like focaccia, it’s heavy on the olive oil, aerated inside and crisp on the outside, it’s the perfect starting point for Rome style pizza.
For the pizza base I adapted James Morton’s focaccia recipe, and for the tomato sauce I use the famous and wonderful Marcela Hazan recipe with a added garlic and dried basil. This is combination resulted in my perfect Rome-style pizza and made browsing flights to Rome online happen a little less frequently. Because the Mr looked at me funny when I said the pizza had no cheese on it, a little grating of mozzarella sneaked on to his side, you can see that creeping into the picture below!
Pizza Rosso – Rome Style Pizza
Makes one large pizza, serves 4-6
500g strong white bread flour
1 x 7g sachet of fast action yeast
400g tepid water
40g olive oil
Put the flour in a large bowl and on one side at the yeast, and the other the salt (keep them separate, salt will retard the action of the yeast). Pour the water and oil in and mix together with a wooden spoon, it will be a very wet mixture which is what you need.
Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place to prove for 40 minutes.
After the first prove you need to mix the dough with your hands. Put a little oil on your hands and then scoop up one side of the dough and fold it over on to the other side. Turn the bowl and do the same again, repeating two full turns of the bowl or until the dough starts to come together and sag less. Cover again and prove for 50 minutes in a warm place, or you can leave it in the fridge for 8-12 hours.
Tomato sauce – pour a tin of tomatoes into a large saucepan, add a knob of butter and half an onion, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour on a low heat. Remove the onion, add garlic and a pinch of dried basil, blend and set aside to use on your pizza.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 240c / gas mark 7.
Lightly oil a large baking tray and put the dough onto it, spreading it out to the corners with oiled fingers – you can be quite tough with it, so really get stuck in. Pour the tomato sauce over and spread it to the edges of the pizza base.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When done, cut yourself off a big square slice and pretend you are strolling past the colosseum on a sunny day in Rome.
Going to Rome? You lucky thing. Read my write ups and recommendations here.