Far too many visitors to Rome take it for granted that the way to order pizza here is exactly the same as the way it’s done back home. In reality, entering a Roman pizzeria and announcing “We’d like a large pepperoni” is a great way both to confuse and annoy the staff, and end up still being hungry after your meal.
For starters, Rome has its own style of pizza, which is served in sit-down restaurants. It’s paper-thin, runny and very hot! and must be eaten with a knife and fork. If you want to try picking up a slice with your fingers, prepare for the toppings to instantly slide into your lap and seriously burn you. The local customers will then politely look away and inwardly sigh to themselves about “these foreigners”…
Because the crust is so thin, most normal people over the age of, say, 12 years old can easily eat an entire pizza by themselves. It’s not a lot of food–and if you tell the waiter you’re going to share one, he’ll stare at you in bewilderment and ask you what else you want to eat with your pizza, since obviously it’s not going to be enough to satisfy you!
That being said… take-away pizza, sold in fast-food joints, is an altogether different matter. As we just saw, it’s impossible for you to hold a pizza of traditional Roman pizza in your hand, much less walk down the street eating it–so the crust of take-away pizza is much thicker and probably more like what you’re used to getting back home. (Except that in Rome it’s much better!) In these eateries, you choose a slice of whatever they’ve already made, and pay for it by weight–so they’ll gesture with their pizza-cutter until you indicate how big you want your piece to be. Visitors frequently have no idea what is happening, so a frustrated pizza-dealer will often sigh, give up, and decide on the size for you. Because it’s sold by weight, the prices of different pieces of the same pizza will normally be a little different–and no, that’s not because you’re getting ripped off.
As you can see, it’s a lot more complicated than back home, isn’t it? Yet if you know what to expect, and what to ask for… it’s the best pizza ever.