Campo de' Fiori (literally 'field of flowers') has been a public square since somewhere around the 13th or 14th century. Most notably known as a marketplace, the square has a darker history as a venue for public executions during the renaissance period. The statue of the homeboy in the black cloak chilling in the middle of the square seen below is that of Giordano Bruno, a philosopher who was pleasantly burned alive where the memorial stands now.
Thankfully the Romans have since brought their flames from public gatherings into pizza ovens. While it may not be wood-burning, the first thing that caught my eye at Forno was their killer wall of ovens-
Like many pizza tourists that end up here, Peter Reinhart's glowing review of this joint in American Pie had more than something to do with my visit. I knew going in that this place was more of a bakery than a pizzeria, and that all they really had to offer were 'rosso' and 'bianco' (red & white) cuts
Each one of those 12 doors leads to an oven chamber that reaches maybe 7-8 feet back. The way they make their pizza/bread is they will stretch the dough out slowly, top it with sauce if it's a red pie, then accordion it back into a scrunched up wad. The baker will then pick it up with the peel, open the hatch door, and then slide the pizza onto the back of the oven and then drag it back towards the oven opening, essentially re-elongating it. Make sense?
After scoping out the process, I hurried inside only to be surprised that not only did they make rosso and bianco, but they made a solid cheese slice as well! Without hesitation I got one of each and some beer and headed right back outside to eat the on the edge of a fountain.
Upon serving, Forno makes a width-wise cut across the pizza, then folds it back on itself resulting in what I can only describe as a pizza sandwich.
I started with the cheese slice, deciding to remove toppings as I proceeded.
Obviously the cheese didn't take too kindly to my pulling the pizza concoction apart, but you get the idea of what's going on here. Low moisture mozz on tomatoes. Tasty, delicious, simple, and solid.
It looks so plain and unassuming, doesn't it? Salt, flour, water and yeast heated to a certain degree for a given amount of time with a dash of olive oil on top for good measure. Without thinking I took a bite and instantly realized I was eating, hands down, the best bread I've ever had in my life. While it didn't have much crumb to speak of and it has an unassuming appearance, this little guy had the most impressive balance with just the right touch of salt.
After ever-so-slowly downing the rest of my piece, I promptly walked back into the shop and ordered more bianco from the smiling staff. I watched the last of the pizza being made as I took bites of my second helping, mesmerized beyond the point of blinking. I don't think it really hit me that I was finally in Italy until I took that first bite of bianco, and then I realized how much pizza I had yet to explore in this country.