travel : rome’s pizzeria da baffetto
"Due! DOOOOOOOO-EH! YOU! DOOO-EH?? DUE!!!"
Oh my god, this man scares me. Only for second though, as soon as I realize he is what stands between us and a really, really good pizza. He’s the owner of Da Baffetto, a corner pizzeria which at 6pm, has a queue long enough to block an alleyway and annoy all passing cars and vespas. It’s only 6.30pm, so by Roman standards it’s not even dinner time. This place must be good.
We manage to skip the line when he starts shouting DUE! DUE! He doesn’t speak a word of English and curses (loudly) under his breath. We don’t speak Italian but at least we know numbers, he’s looking for pairs and we are two!
Two other flabbergasted couples are lined up, execution style, in front of a table of three lingering American tourists. He’s trying to make them leave by having us nonchalantly stare them down. Nice strategy I must admit. And it works. The tourists quickly gather their belongings and go.
The crazy owner and the waiters (who affectionately grumble at their boss) give this place undeniable character. As the sunlight dims over Navona, the warmth emanating from the centuries old buildings remind me that we can only be in Rome. After a mere moment of reflection we are abruptly brought back to reality, to an overworked waiter simultaneously taking orders and setting places.
"How big are the large pizzas?" asks K.
"For you..? A large!" Brute honesty from the waiter, served up Roman style! I like it.
It’s a long wait for the pizzas – two cooks and a sole, wood fired oven make pizzas for the entire restaurant. And everybody orders the pizza. We sit back, ignore the tummy rumbles and watch the cooks carefully roll the dough out by hand and frantically work the hot, hot oven as fast as they can. The timing is impeccable – the waiters seem to know when their pizzas are ready by some paranormal talent. Swivelled onto stainless steel dishes, the pizzas are off to tables within seconds.
K’s large pizza arrives and he looks happy. The waiter was right. A large pizza is perfect.
My mushroom and onion pizza is wafer thin and even though the underside is almost burnt, I love the crispy bubbliness of the crust. The crust cracks under the slightest pressure and all the flavour is in the topping. The frugal topping of mushrooms and onions proves that less is more. The earthiness of the mushrooms, the acrid shaved onions, the almost indiscernible sweetness of the tomato sauce and the cool dry air of the evening, makes it memorable.
We waited 45 minutes for the pizza, to eat it in five minutes but have memories for a lifetime. Not much more can be asked of a humble pizzeria.
P.S. After dinner at Da Baffetto head to Piazza Navona and have a gelato while lingering around the fountains. Blissful.
Pizzeria Da Baffetto
Via del Governo Vecchio, 114, Rome 00186
T: +39 6 686 1617
Open 7 days, 6pm – 1am
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