Recently I talked about the excellent pizza napoletana in Naples, and I mentioned one of my loves, pizza bianca. Note the spelling: pizza biancA, not pizza bianco as I’ve seen others write.
The literal translation of pizza bianca is “white pizza” but you might see the term “Pizza Bianca” or “Pizze bianche” on a typical pizzeria menu anywhere in Italy. This indicates that the pizza is not “rossa” – covered with tomato sauce, and therefore the pizza is just the plain pizza dough base with the toppings indicated on the menu.
Pizza bianca in Rome, however, means something a little different in that you won’t find pizza bianca only in pizzerias, but you’ll find pizza bianca ready to be sliced all over the city at various forni (sing. forno) breadmakers.
Pizza bianca is just that: fresh, crusty, crackly, pizza dough sprinkled with salt and brushed with wonderful, high quality olive oil. They are cooked in (ideally) wood-burning ovens in long, rectangular slabs which are typical of pizza al trancio (pizza by the slice) in Rome. Pizza al trancio is definitely one of my favorite street foods in Rome.
Perhaps the most famous maker of pizza bianca, and rightly so, is the Forno Campo de’ Fiori, located in the famous piazza of the same name. When they’re baking you’ll often find the door directly to the forno open.
It’s a pretty nondescript place, from the outside, with a large wooden “FORNO” announcing its presence . After you enter, make your way to the crowded counters and request pizzas bianca. The baker will inevitably place his knife on the long slab of pizza bianca to indicate where he intends to cut. Use your hands to show how wide of a slice you’d like. You’ll receive a “scontrino” receipt with the amount that needs to be paid. Take it to the cash register, pay, and either return to pick up your piece of pizza bianca from the bread counter or if it’s already been given to you, now it’s time to eat!
Sometimes you’ll even peek them putting the pizza bianca into the oven.
This is one of my first stops when I arrive in Rome. I always underestimate how much pizza bianca I want and always have to come back later and get another piece. I suggest getting more than you want and then you can snack on it throughout the day!
Let’s get a closer look at pizza bianca.
or from the other angle. See that crispy, golden, crunchy oily surface sprinkled with salt? You’re going to pray to it in your sleep. I can’t wait for the next time I get to eat pizza bianca!
When you see pizza bianca in others’ hands, try to resist and NOT steal it from them.
Forno Campo de’ Fiori
Campo De’ Fiori, 22 – Vicolo del Gallo, 14
- Ready to make your own pizza bianca? Try this recipe at Serious Eats for Pizza Bianca
- Or if you’re coming to Rome, here’s two more Roman forni and their pizza bianca to try