Stirata Romana, often lovingly and simply referred to as pizza bianca in Rome, has ancient origins and is a treasured local favourite. Ancient bakers, dating as far back as the Etruscans, created a flat, oven-baked bread, focaccia, which was made from a simple dough, and baked quickly and directly on the hearth.
Focaccia, which derives from the Latin words panis (bread) and focacius (fire), evolved over the centuries as pizza bianca. Stirata romana or pizza bianca is essentially a hand-stretched focaccia bread.
It is worked into a long rectangular shape, dimpled by hand and stretched up to four feet. (Note: Stirata translated into English literally means stretched!) Hugely popular in Rome as a breakfast item or a snack on the go, it is served warm and cut into squares, plain, with a simple drizzle of olive oil, sea salt and rosemary, or sliced and filled (farcita) with ingredients like local salumi, mortadella, prosciutto, cheese, and vegetables. It has become a quintessential staple of Roman street food.
When in Rome, I recommend a visit to Forno Campo de’ Fiori. I have an unforgettable memory of devouring the most delicious zucchini flower and anchovy pizza bianca, after stumbling upon this bakery one particularly scorching-hot afternoon in July many years ago, when my young son and I got lost in the narrow streets of campo De’Fiori after having visited the Pantheon.
In Toronto, you can enjoy authentic stirata Romana daily from Sud Forno Queen and Temperance as well as both Spaccio East and West.