Pizza bianca is pizza at its simplest.
There’s no bright red tomato sauce, no cheese, and no fancy toppings. Pizza bianca (which translates to “white pizza”) is as simple as it gets: fresh-baked focaccia topped with nothing more than olive oil, salt, and sesame seeds or rosemary if you’re feeling adventurous.
But don’t let the simplicity of this Italian staple fool you. Try this pizza bianca recipe and you’ll see why Romans can’t get enough.
Photo Credit: Fred Benenson, Text Overlay: Devour Rome Food Tours
The many faces of Roman pizza
Though usually associated more with Naples, pizza is also a local favorite in Rome. But the way we enjoy it here may be different than you’re expecting.
Roman pizza is most commonly enjoyed as pizza al taglio, or pizza by the slice. But forget about the triangular slices you can grab on the go in cities like New York—here in Rome, we’re talking thick, rectangular slabs that are cut according to how much you want, and paid for by weight.
This pizza bianca recipe is an example of pizza al taglio, but this on-the-go option isn’t the only way to eat pizza in Rome. On weekend evenings, pizzerias throughout the city fill up with locals enjoying pizza tonda—a round, whole pie eaten by one person with a fork and knife.
Casa Manco: A family-run favorite
This pizza bianca recipe comes to us from Casa Manco, our pick for the best pizza in Rome and a stop on our Testaccio Neighborhood Food & Market Tour.
Local couple Paola and Andrea opened Casa Manco after leaving the corporate life behind in 2009. In the decade-plus since, their stall in the Testaccio Market has become a local reference for some of the city’s best pizza al taglio. Their secret: a natural rising process to ensure light, fluffy and digestible dough, and fresh, seasonal ingredients that come from the other stalls in the market whenever possible.
To really get the most out of this pizza bianca recipe, be sure to allow plenty of time for the dough to rise. At Casa Manco, they usually take up to 72 hours, but if you’re eager to try your pizza bianca ASAP, leave it for a minimum of at least 12.
The other key ingredient here: excellent extra virgin olive oil. Because the recipe itself is so simple, the quality of the ingredients really shines through. Bad olive oil will result in bad pizza bianca, and that would be tragic indeed.
Pizza bianca recipe from Casa Manco
Makes 1 large pizza
- 2 tsp (8 grams) dried yeast
- 5 cups (600 grams) 00 or 0 flour (can substitute all-purpose flour if needed)
- ¾ cup (90 grams) wholemeal, semi integrale or farro flour
- 2 cups (500 milliliters) water, at room temperature
- 2½ tsp (12 grams) salt
- 1 tablespoon (15 milliliters) extra-virgin olive oil
- Sesame seeds, for topping
- In a large bowl, mix the yeast and both flours together until combined. Pour the water into another bowl.
- Mix two thirds of the flour mixture into the water and stir with a fork. Slowly pour in the rest of the flour, stirring constantly.
- When you can no longer stir the dough, scoop the mixture out of the bowl and lay it on a wooden surface. Continue to mix manually by lifting the edges up and over the rest of the dough. If you have a dough scraper, it will make this easier, but no worries if not.
- Sprinkle the salt over top of the dough and knead to combine. Make a small indentation in the dough and pour the oil into it. Mix by hand once more.
- Place the dough back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.
- Take the dough out of the fridge two hours before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit (250 degrees Celsius). Flour a flat surface and spread the dough out over it with your fingers. It should be able to fit onto a baking tray.
- Place the dough onto the baking tray and press down, making small indentations across the surface with your fingertips.
- Over top of the dough, add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sesame seeds to taste. Bake for at least 20 minutes, or until lightly golden.