The place: La Pratolina, Roma, Italia.
Halloween isn’t celebrated as much in Italy as in the U.S. It is starting to catch on here-and-there especially with school parties, but then trick-or-treating is harder when everyone lives in an apartment building. We saw a few kids in costume on our way home from work, and there was a large lighted plastic jack-o-lantern in a restaurant on the Via Veneto.
As if it being Friday was not enough reason to eat pizza, we also always eat pizza on Halloween. We headed out on the Tram 19 to what is probably our second-favorite pizzeria in all of Italy, La Pratolina. This is in the Prati neighborhood or quartiere, not too far north of the Vatican, but out of the tourist zone. We are usually the only non-Italians here, although most of the servers speak some English. Pizza here is different. It is a style called pinsa. The crust is fairly thin, but from a raised dough leavened for 48 hours. The Italians believe this makes the dough more digestible, and digestibility is a big topic, but one I won’t go into right now. I do know it makes the dough stand up to the toppings better than some of the true Roman variety. Being baked in a wood-fired oven doesn’t hurt. This pie is also oblong, a departure from the usual rounds.
A traditional Roman pizza meal starts out with some fried goodies. It might be arancini, baccala (cod filets), olive ascoltane (breaded deep fried olives), or maybe fiori di zucca, which are zucchini flowers stuffed with cheese and anchovy then breaded and fried. At La Pratolina we have sfizi, which literally means “a little whim.” Our choice tonight was a selection that included artichokes, mozzarella and eggplant.
Pizza Quality: 3 Outstandimg ingredients, an especially good crust and some creative toppings.
Service: 3 Efficient, friendly, bi-lingual. The won’t necessarily rush you, but you may be told when you reserve that you have to depart by a certain time as the tbale will turn at least twice in an evening.
Ambiance: 2 Nice dining rooms, tables not overly crowded; colorful, warm, welcoming. One point deducted for no outdoor seating.
Bonus: 1 Extra credit for great sfizi.
Total Points: 9
Returnability: The Best: Go out-of-your-way to eat here; take a cross-town bus or a 20 Euro cab ride if necessary.
By all means make a reservation! We call on Wednesday when we want to eat there on Friday. You can find details here on their website.