The pizza pilgrimage

Jillian Wertheim/Senior Staff
A winning combination of traditional Italian flavors, the "Dar Poeta" is sure to please.

Simply put, it is impossible to come to Italy without dedicating a good 30 percent of your time to enjoying the local cuisine. Truth be told, I probably spend about half of my day in the company of food of some variety, and more often than not, it’s pizza.

Sure, as far as Italian food goes, Americans have turned pizza into something of a cliche, but here in Rome, pizza is sacred. It’s an art form, worthy of praise. And let it be known that not all pizzas are created equal. No, no, friends, like all other things worth searching for, the moment when you finally find your pizza Mecca is a magical one, and after a month of sampling, wandering and sampling some more, I now have one to call my own.

Tucked away in the labyrinth that is Rome’s Trastevere neigborhood is a rustic little pizzeria by the name of Dar Poeta, but if you get lost on your way there (you will) and ask any of the locals for directions, they’ll blink at you and after a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, will say something like, “Oh, Dal Poeta … si, certo!” I still haven’t been able to figure out why. But how you get there isn’t important — the only thing that matters is that you find it.

Get yourself a table and some of the house red, and take your time perusing the menu. It’s extensive, but trust me when I say that you don’t want to leave a single item unread. Feel free to oggle at your fellow diners’ orders as they pass by your seat — words on a page just can’t whet the appetite in the same way that the luscious fragrance of garlic-infused olive oil can.

Indecision might plague first-timers, but quell the fear of missing out on untried items by going with a group. No two people should order the same pizza. For a classic choice, go for restaurant’s signature dish, the Dar Poeta. The harmonious paring of oven-toasted zucchini and Italian sausage, topped with mozzarella, packs enough flavor in just a few simple ingredients to wow even the biggest pizza skeptics.

Boasting (and rightfully so) a dough recipe passed down through multiple generations, Dar Poeta has mastered the science of pizza crust. This light, yet oh-so-satisfying, crust amplifies the flavor of every ingredient that sits atop its golden perfection — the best supporting actor to the cheese’s leading role. The meal leaves you satisfied, not stuffed, and the question that comes to mind as you put on your coat and head out the door is a simple one: Is tomorrow night too soon for round two?

(It isn’t.)