WHEN IN ROME, EAT PIZZAS THE WAY THE ROMANS DO:
Baffetto is our favourite pizza restaurant in Rome. This long-established pizzeria makes pizzas the true Italian way, with really thin crust and a very tasty sauce. In spite of being a no-frills pizzeria, Baffetto is nevertheless legendary and there’s usually a long queue of people waiting to get a table here. On one of the walls in the restaurant, you’ll see photos of a few of the celebrity patrons who have dined at this iconic pizzeria.
Authentic and Buzzing
A dinner at Baffetto is a tradition on our Rome visits. The pizzeria is always extremely busy and with the long queue of people waiting to dine here, you very much accept whatever table is allocated to you. On one of our earlier visits we sat just next to the pizza kitchen. Some people may complain that it is too hot, but we rather enjoyed being close to the pizza chefs and watching them work. The strong pastry chef rolls out pizza dough non-stop and the pizza chef puts on the toppings and cooks them at a speed of knots to feed the hungry diners – yes, by the time you get your table, you’re likely to be quite hungry!
Baffetto’s pizza menu is quite huge and it’s fascinating watching the chefs turn out the different pizza orders. Their manual ordering system is very simple and effective – the paper orders are held down under a long stick in the order that they come in and the chefs and wait staff manage to get hundreds of pizzas to the right tables. Seeing the orders pouring in non-stop is enough to get any inexperienced chef quite stressed, but these two guys turn out pizza after pizza in their very concentrated fashion.
Baffetto’s Long-Serving Staff
We feel quite at home dining at Baffetto as each time we visit we see familiar faces in the restaurant. From the pizza chef to the waiters, many of their staff have been working at the pizzeria for a long time. On our recent visit though, we noticed two new faces. As we got to sit next to the pizza kitchen again, we noticed that Gilberto, the pizza maestro, now has two new and young assistants – Hassan the affable pastry chef is a fun and lively character and Francesco, who has the facial features of a Venetian nobleman. Francesco’s job is to apply the sauce and fillings and he does this artfully.
Gilberto has been there for as long as we’ve been dining at Baffetto and on the wall you’ll see photos of him as a very young pizza chef. As he bakes the pizzas he is in constant chatter with his two assistants. He always looks very serious and in his ‘Godfather’ like voice he appears to be instructing the younger guys on the business of pizza-making or maybe he’s just giving them general advice, we’re not to know.
You’ll recognize the head waiter Paolo, the big guy who decides whether or not you’ll get a table. He and the other waiters have also been there for a long time. Although unsmiling – some on Tripadvisor have complained about their ‘attitude’- to us it is all a part of their charade. One thing to remember is that many of these guys don’t speak English, but whenever we’ve made attempts to joke with them with our smattering of Italian or sign language, they always respond and you’ll see their friendlier side.
A Kodak Moment with the Chefs
At the end of our meal, Tony was getting ready to take a candid snap of the three chefs working in unison, but Gilberto decided that he would stop to pose for a photo and he beckoned for me to
join them in the photo. His normally stern ‘working’ face breaks out into a big smile and the result is one of my favourite travel photos – me and the three handsome chefs who make the best pizzas in Rome. You can hardly say that the people at Baffetto are unfriendly! Tony didn’t go away empty handed. He landed himself a red Baffetto t-shirt.
If you like thick Dominos-type pizzas heaped with cheese, ham and pineapple, don’t bother going to Baffetto, but for those who want to enjoy truly authentic Italian pizzas, a dinner at Baffetto is a Roman dinner to experience. The pizzas are very reasonably priced and their house wines are very drinkable.
Pizzeria da Baffetto
via del Governo Vecchio 114