Have you ever eaten 150-year-old pizza? I have and it is dee-licious! I tried it on my recent food tour in Trastevere in Rome. It was light and crispy and with sooo much flavour! La Renella is probably the most authentic pizza you will ever eat – and the oldest! Their secret is in the dough. Their oven happens to be older than Italy itself! It has been baking dough since 1860 (Italy unified in 1861) which means their pizza is as traditional as it gets!
This oven is not your typical wood or coal-burning oven. Instead, it runs on hazelnuts. The pizzaiolo uses hazelnuts grown from a farm just 85 kilometres north of Rome in a town called Viterbo. To keep the perfect heat intensity he tosses hazelnut shells into the oven to roast throughout the day. The result? A pizza with a hazelnut scent that’s crunchy on the outside, but juicy and savoury in the middle. After so many years, it’s impressive that an oven like this one could still turn out such delicious pizza!
Although La Renella opened up only a few years ago, they’re all about tradition. Pizza is ordered in the old-fashioned way known as pizza al taglio (pizza by the size, not slice). It’s cut and weighed-to-order so all you have to do is tell them how big you want it! They also serve up original styles like pizza bianca or white pizza. It’s made with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and dried herbs like rosemary or oregano. The Roman-style pizza rosso, which means red pizza, has an added touch of homemade tomato sauce. That’s it! Basta! Not even a sprinkle of cheese! Contrary to what a lot of pizza-eaters think, authentic Italian pizza is actually very simple. In fact, the earliest kind of pizza was made with very few toppings. In the late 1880s, pizza was eaten mostly by the poor – they would use up all their left over food and ingredients so it wouldn’t go to waste.
La Renella is also a panetteria where they bake fresh bread. Their baking room is a dust of white flour from wall-to-wall and pink baskets lined up with ready-to-crunch-on, hazelnut-scented bread sticks. We got to go backstage!
La Renella felt like a true neighbourhood eatery where the owner invites you into their kitchen and the pizzaiolo still bakes dough in a 150-year-old traditional way.
How to Get Here: via Del Moro, 15
I was a guest of Eating Italy Food Tours, a four hour food adventure through Rome’s Trastevere neighbourhood.