True Roman-style pizza hadn’t quite landed in Los Angeles until a few weeks ago, when a spot called Il Romanista opened in the heart of El Segundo’s office park district (and just a block down from the LA Lakers practice facility). Founded by Luigi Roditis, who hails from LA’s Westside but considers Rome a second home, Il Romanista is the first true Roman-style pizza place to open in the city. In Chicago, thin-crust Roman-style pizza has made waves thanks to the legendary Bonci Pizzeria arriving in August.
What’s unique about Roman-style pizza? Well it’s all cut into rectangles with large shears instead of those rolling pizza slicers. Unlike Bonci, which charges slices by weight, Il Romanista charges a modest $3.50 to $4.50 for slices, with about eight to twelves different topping combinations depending on the hour.
The dough is fermented for 48 hours, though the range can be anywhere from 36 to 72 hours. And since it’s a cold fermentation, the yeast development is much slower, allowing for a robust gluten network that gives the slices a stronger, yet more pliant dough. It’s then hand stretched before getting their requisite topping combinations.
The toppings run from the simple to the elegant, such as the meaty calabrese with spicy sorpressata and a thick layer of mozzarella. Other might combine eggplant, cherry tomatoes, and cheese or tomato sauce, mushrooms, olives, and peppers for a vegan slice. They’ve got filled “pizza ripenas” for a kind of mini calzone that cost a bit more but make up more of a single meal. There’s a small selection of grab-and-go salads too, in case carbs aren’t in the mix.
The interior is pretty sparse save for a massive flatscreen that plays live Italian football, plus some soccer paraphernalia. Pick slices up front and then wait a few minutes for the pizzas to get a final warming in the ovens. Hours run 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, and closed on Sundays.
Il Romanista. 829 North Douglas St. El Segundo, CA