Straforno – a pizzeria in north-east Rome – has gone straight onto my list of options for the best pizza in Rome after a night out in this neighbourhood restaurant in San Basilio.
During lockdown in Italy, Straforno decided to temporarily close its doors. However, I was delighted to learn this week that Straforno will now be offering home pizza delivery, as of 24 April. The delivery menu features over 60 mouthwatering pizzas, plus sandwiches, burgers, pasta and more – there’s also a selection of wines, beers and soft drinks.
The menu is over on the Straforno Facebook page as well as on Instagram and they will be doing their best to serve as much as Rome as possible. You can order directly from Straforno (if you’re close to San Basilio), via Glovo or Deliveroo – and the usual gluten-free options are also available.
If you don’t already know about Straforno, read on for my full review of this awesome neighbourhood pizzeria and restaurant, and get ready to give them a try!
Straforno review: dine-in
Like most people in Rome, I have a few favourite pizzerias scattered across the city, but I’m always delighted to discover a new one, especially in the Roman suburbs.
A good pizzeria always has a neighbourhood vibe. It’s one of those essential spots, important as your local bar or market, where you would expect to go at least once a week for that ritual staple of Italian food – the pizza.
San Basilio is not a central district but a slightly removed residential area in north-east Rome with a life of its own. In Straforno, its lucky residents can count on a pizza place (and much, much more) which easily holds its own as one of the best pizza restaurants in Rome.
Tourists don’t end up in San Basilio very often, but if you plan a trip out this way, you might like to know that the neighbourhood is famous for its artist-commissioned murals. Straforno is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, with brunch from 12.45 on Sundays, and a daily aperitivo from 17.00 with lots of food thrown in.
Read on for the eye-popping details of north Rome’s best pizza restaurant for a taste of the real Rome!
Straforno is a cavernous pizzeria and Italian restaurant with around 440 covers situated on Via del Casale di San Basilio in north-east Rome, close to the Roman ring-road, GRA.
It offers family-friendly spaces, including an indoor play area covering 80 m2 for the youngest in a secondary wing of the restaurant, so you can head to Straforno for a family outing knowing that the little ones will be well entertained (and you won’t disturb other tables).
The main room of the restaurant, with views of the two handsome wood fired ovens, also includes a separate salon for sizeable private parties. There is even a second, gluten-free kitchen to suit different members of your group.
Straforno is a huge operation but run with military precision and the kind of dedication you only find in a family-run place. On my visit, owner Matteo Pavani tells me how, in the earliest days of the restaurant, he would spend days and nights here with a fired-up pizza oven, experimenting with different kinds of dough in the search of pizza perfection. And after an evening at Straforno I can say that I think they achieved it!
Straforno serves an incredible four different kinds of pizza with nearly 100 topping variations, plus burgers, chilli, pasta and lots more – cooking up over 500 pizzas per evening on weekend nights.
The owner’s obsession with getting things just right shows in every detail, from the wine list to the fried goodies that typically launch dinner proceedings in a pizzeria.
The wine list is frankly bonkers, including over 220 labels and ranging from the finest champagne to carefully sourced local wines.
I started my dinner at Straforno with some artisan fried goodies – none of those deep frozen stuffed olives that you find in other establishments! Straforno’s olive all’ascolana are made with three kinds of meat and rolled and fried by hand. The potato croquettes are crispy and dry on the outside and incredibly fluffy and almost creamy within. Fried goodies start at €2.50 each so are definitely light on the pocket!
When it comes to the pizzas, you have one hell of a choice. Straforno serves everything from thin and crispy Roman style pizzas, to something called ‘pizza alla brace’, literally pizzas cooked in trays over hot coals, which end up with a lovely crisp base with almost a fried quality, adding an extra level of lip-licking flavour to the pizza.
Straforno also serves two kinds of focaccia, which is a deeper pan pizza, not to be confused with focaccia alla Genovese, or the spongy bread-style white focaccia topped with rosemary and salt found in the UK. Again, the toppings choice is huge, with a fun four different kinds of Margherita on offer.
These pizzas develop a lovely puffed crust when cooked, with the filled version featuring a thin and crisp layer of dough over the top that delicately disintegrates when you pick it up to bite. The final option is a gluten-free pizza, rigorously prepared in a second, dedicated kitchen.
Are they any good? Wow, yes, I loved everything I tried! This amatriciana pizza cooked over coals (pizza alla brace) has that substantial, almost deep fried base of tray-cooked pizzas, combining salty pork cheek with cooked down tomatoes for an intense taste (€8.50).
We tried a filled focaccia which proved incredibly light with its crisp upper layer, filled with grandma’s homemade marinated aubergines – delicious (€12). I also tried a regular focaccia with anchovies and zucchini flowers which was delicate and buttery (€11.50).
For reasons of science (!) I also tried the gluten-free pizza, which was very competently done but obviously not as lovable as the regular pizza, so I wouldn’t advise ordering it unless you are suffering from coeliac or celiac disease. It has the typical biscuity base of gluten-free pizza and the dough includes potato.
We also tried a tiramisu to round things off which was again well done, although I prefer my tiramisu a bit more eggy.
All in all this was a great, good-value experience, and if you live in north-east Rome or find yourselves heading out that way – I envy you! Straforno is a dead cert and well worth considering for a takeaway option too.
Straforno | Via del Casale di San Basilio 19 | 00156 | Rome | Tel +39 06 4100667