pizza

Check Out Bar Toma's Pizza Inspiration, Rome's Pizzarium

One of the things that surprised us (and other food writers from around town), when we previewed Tony Mantuano's popular new Bar Toma near the Magnificent Mile last month, was the crust on the pizza. The woodburning oven looked set to make the kind of Neapolitan pizza that Chicagoans have grown familiar with from places like Spacca Napoli, Coalfire, etc. But the crust instead was taller and crustier, with large bubbles like good sourdough bread. And when we asked Tony Mantuano about it, he explained that the aim was to replicate pizza not from Naples but from Rome, which typically has a thicker, breadier crust. To that end, he didn't use the soft, high-heat-activated "00" flour typical of Neapolitan pizza makers, but standard bread flour, mixed with a little rye, and allowed to rise overnight. Specifically, he said, the model for Bar Toma's pizza was his favorite pizza place in Rome, a shop called Pizzarium located not far from the Vatican. Well, we just happened to be going to Rome in the next couple of weeks after the preview, and while there, we made sure to grab dinner at Pizzarium one night. Does Bar Toma compare to its Roman inspiration? Our report, and slideshow, follows below.

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