Although it’s Gabriele Bonci that gets much of the acclaim in the Roman (and wider Italian) pizza scene for his Pizzarium outlet, in every neighbourhood in the city there are a gazillion other pizza al taglio (“pizza by the slice”) places quietly going about their business. Many of these are mediocre – though even then, they’re better than the majority of pizza to be found internationally. And some of them are even pretty good. Pizza al taglio di Eligio Fattori is one of them.
It’s found in the hinterlands between Monteverde Vecchio and Monteverde Nuovo, not that far from the Gianicolo (Janiculum) and the splendid open space that Villa Doria Pamphili park. For a long time, we’ve been giving our patronage to a pizza a taglio place closer to home (Da Simone on Via G Carini), but when a friend and fellow baker mentioned Eligio Fattori, and its famed long fermentation dough, we had to check it out. And we’re very glad we did too.
Sometimes, I meet Fran after work, and walk up from Trastevere railway station, up Viale dei Quattro Venti, paying a visit to the beer shop that’s recently opened up there (number 265; it’s a branch of Gradi Plato), before turning off the main drag and up onto Viale di Villa Pamphili.
Located just past an unexpected “Irish pub” called Finn MacCumhal, Pizza al taglio di Eligio Fattori looks very ordinary. It doesn’t even have a name, just a little symbol with two illegible letters in the style of the General Electric logo (are they “E” & “F”? Dunno) and “Pizza a taglio” in large green letters. In the summer and fair weather, there are some plastic benches outside. When we were arrived an old couple and some mums and kids were there, finishing feasting on boards of pizza slices.
Inside, it’s pretty small (Siamo un piccolo negozio con un grande prodotto – “We’re a small shop with a grand product”), but has some character. There’s a bell on the wall with a sign saying “If you want pizza, ring the bell” and there’s a framed quote by John Ruskin (in Italian). This is a nice touch for us, as we lived just off Herne Hill in south London for several years – and Ruskin used to live just up the road (before our time of course….). Here’s an English translation of the quote. Whether this Common law of business balance was even authored by Ruskin is debated, but clearly they’re saying if you feel you’re paying a little more for the Eligio Fattori pizza, it’s because you’re paying for better quality, though prize-wise it seems pretty on a par to other a taglio places.
I’ve got their business card here and it says they have “200 types of pizza” – though not all at the same time. They change seasonally. It also lists their accomplishments, including Pizza campione nel mondo – pizza world champion – 1991 and 2011. I’m not sure it’s the best pizza I’ve ever had, but for a neighbourhood a taglio place it’s great. This is in part because, where many places apparently use factory made frozen dough (Marco Farchioni, of Farchioni olive oil, recently told me), Eligio Fattori make their own – and even boast on their card that they make: L’unico impasto al mondo realizzato metà acqua metà farina, 1 gr di lievito ogni chilo di farina. Senza aggiunto di grassi animali con olio extravergine e soia. 72 ore di lievitazione naturale. That is, “The only dough in the world made with half water, half flour, 1g of yeast for every kilo of flour. Without added animal fats, with extravirgin olive oil and soya oil. 72 hours of natural leavening.” This isn’t exactly a recipe, and 72 hours seems a little long – surely the yeast would exhaust itself? – but the results are very good.
On our visit a few days ago, we had suppli (which were tasty, but not a patch on home-made), and a couple of different pizzas from their extensive choice, which includes many stuffed styles. I had a one with cherry tomatoes and some chili – and it was delicious. Basic, without too many toppings, is often best as there’s no conflict among the flavours. Fran had speck with a gorgonzola sauce. I didn’t try it, but she said it was “creamy, lovely, with wood-smoky speck, and the sauce over the top, so the dough didn’t get soggy.”
I kinda wish we’d got more. I’m making myself hungry just writing about it.
Pizza a taglio di Eligio Fattori, Viale di Villa Pamphili 46A, Monteverde, Rome
Tel 06 581 2208