Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: La Montecarlo, Rome, Italy

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Before my 12-day excursion to Italy, I did some homework to maximize the chances of eating the best pizza in the areas visited. Rome offered the most promise, and I looked to the smart folks at Slice – SeriousEats for counsel. This article put La Montecarlo on my short list:

A day earlier, while lost trying to navigate Rome on foot near the Campo di Fiore Farmers Market, we had fortuitously stumbled upon the stellar Forno Marco Roscioli bakery/pizzeria:
Marinara slices from Roscioli
In this instance, I set off alone to try to find the shop, grab a pie, and cart it back to our hotel near the Coliseum – about a 20 minute walk.

The shop is tucked into a little side street – Vicolo Savelli – just off the main thoroughfare Corso Vittorio Emanuele II. I found it with little fanfare, and I arrived in between the lunch and dinner crowds. 

It was a cool space with some happy diners lingering after lunch. Having been so gratified by the cheeseless slices I had at Roscioli, I decided “when in Rome” to order the marinara pie – just crust and sauce.

It was smallish – a little larger in diameter than the typical American ‘personal’ pie, and wafer-thin as expected. Knowing that I faced a long walk with the pie cooling/sweating in the box, I eagerly tore off a few hunks of the unsliced pie to sample immediately.

It was thin, light, crisp yet with some chewiness. An airy and earthy delight. The sauce was very good, but the crust was the star. Looking back, I should have eaten the whole thing there in 90 seconds, then gone back in to order two more for taking back and sharing.
As tasty as it looked!

But I didn’t; I took the remaining 80% back to our room, where we quickly devoured it as more or less an appetizer. It traveled well – it did not become soggy or soft.

This pie was SO different than American pie that it’s hard to compare, but I loved it more as a tomato-bready snack than as pizza. I very much regret that I didn’t try the margherita pie or some other varieties. It was magical, wonderful, fragrant, and had superb texture. Not quite as over-the-top as the square Roman slices at Roscioli, but still some of the best stuff I’ve eaten in any country.

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