Il Romanista: The First Roman-Style “Pizza al Taglio” in Los Angeles
Thin crust, delicious toppings, and cut at just the right size. The pizzas at Il Romanista are crispy slices of heaven.
Easy to spot once you park (it’s the only eatery with outside tables and umbrellas), hidden away behind a series of El Segundo offices, just south of LAX, Il Romanista brings to LA a new kind of pizza – la pizza al taglio.
Il Romanista Brings “Pizza al Taglio” to Los Angeles
But what exactly is pizza al taglio, and why bring it to Los Angeles?
Baked in large rectangular pans, pizza al taglio has a crispy thin crust. It gets cut in rectangular slices with a pair of scissors (Italian/Roman tradition!!) and served hot on a wooden tray—or room temperature, if the pizza toppings are best uncooked, like prosciutto or fresh basil.
The “why in L.A.” part comes directly from the owner, Luigi Yiannis Roditis. “My mom Luisa is from Rome and we used to go back every year to visit her family and I remember going out for pizza al taglio with my grandma Maria. Every time I came back to the States, it was one of the things I missed the most. Pizza al taglio is appealing also because it has a special presentation, you can see all the pizzas behind the glass window (15/20 different kinds daily), like we do in our panificio (pa-ni-fi-cio, aka bakery).
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The menu changes daily, with the exception of a couple of classics, and there’s always a vegan option.
The first slice I tried had figs, brie, honey, and mint – a perfect combination of sweet and savory that made me feel like I was back home. After that came one of the two vegan options of the day: chickpeas, potatoes and porcini mushrooms. I almost turned vegan! And to close in style, I had a slice with provolone cheese, mushrooms and parsley. Unbelievable!
Plus, each slice is priced at a very fairly rate ($3.50-$4.50), so the whole meal was a steal.
Discovering an All-Italian Lunch Break in El Segundo
As I was savoring this deliciousness, Luigi went on to explains the reason behind his favorite pizza – potatoes & rosemary: “I used to go to this place on Piazza Fiume with my grandma and instead of using sliced potatoes, they would use grated potatoes and that is still in my heart to this day. So, even if almost every pizza al taglio place in Rome makes it with sliced potatoes called “ronde” (round), I will always prefer grated potatoes.”
He also gave me a little detail about the crust: “You may have noticed that it has a peculiar taste. That’s because we also mix some whole wheat flour with the white flour to give it more flavor.” And to wash it all off, grab an Italian soda and yes, they have also chinotto! If you’ve never tried this classic Italian soda, you are missing out. And Peroni beer, which is also brewed in Rome.
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Added bonus: If you are a soccer fan, you can enjoy a thrilling game with your slice, too! As the restaurant name suggests, owner Luigi is a romanista himself, that is a big fan of A.S. Roma, the soccer team based in Italy’s capital. You can’t miss Roma’s red-and-yellow jerseys hanging from the walls, as you dig into your potatoes and rosemary pizza.
Needless to say, I was back a few days later for take 2.
This feature is unsolicited. We first tested the food anonimously on two occasions. A third meal was comped. Photos by Raffaele Asquer, Roberto Croci, and Annalisa Rinetti for Foodiamo. All rights reserved.
Where: 829 North Douglas St., El Segundo, CA 90245
When: Mon-Fri, 09:30am to 07:00pm; Sat, 10:00am to 03:00pm; Sun closed
Phone: (310) 616-3111
Details: Beer and wine; no reservations