Once upon a time, there was only one “pizza al taglio” in Bologna, Altero. It had one little crowded shop in via Indipendenza, and it made non locals rise a perplexed eyebrow. I’ll get back to it later, but let just say it’s quite a “northern” version of pizza, something my Roman parents woudn’t even consider eating. As a matter of fact, like we all know pizza comes from Naples. But that is traditional, round pizza. When it comes to sliced pizza, the one you eat in little rectangles, possibily more than one so that you can have different toppings, the real deal is Rome. There you have perfection in pizza-to-go, and I can proudly say that I was weaned with it as a child, during long holidays at my grandparents’.
Back to Bologna. After decades of excellent food but serious scarcity of real pizza al taglio, something began to change some years ago, with the little shy opening of Pizzartist. And once locals tried “real” sliced pizza (tasty, occasionally crunchy, deliciously Mediterranean), it was love. So new places opened and now we can finally count on a good selection when a pizza-al-taglio craving hits hard. It’s no Rome yet, but we’re on the right path. So, here’s my top 5. Which is your favorite?
Pizzartist (Via Marsala 35, Via Stalingrado 12)
First and only and absolute favorite. It changed the people of Bologna’s perception of sliced pizza for good and I will always be grateful. This small, unpretentious, no-fuss shop opened in an area adjacent to the heart of the Uny district, by a young Roman guy and his girlfriend (they got married last summer, can’t imagine the sumptuous pizza banquet), it’s been so popular since that they now have a second branch at the DLF, very nice in the warmer season. My favorite flavors are “Burrata, aubergine and chili pepper” and “courgettes and anchoives”. But, really, they’re all delicious and always freshly ovened. Prices are more than reasonable: can’t find a single reason not to adore this place.
Forno Brisa (Via Galliera 34)
They opened just a little more than a year ago in a smart location: not only Via Galliera is close to the station, but the shop just in front of Bologna’s best gelateria Galliera49. So when you’re in the mood for a combo, this is the address. More than a pizza place, Brisa is a bakery, whic has pros and cons. They’re not as tasty and performing as Pizzartist but still are a nice option, and they are strong in dealing with old grains and Slow food tips. Plus, they also sell interesting bread.
Altro? At Mercato delle Erbe (Via Ugobassi 29)
Just 5 or 6 flavors per time, but a nice quality and a slim, perfectly levitated pizza with yeast base, very light and easy to digest. And good. The recipe for the main dough comes from baker Giuliano Pediconi, ingredients for topping are seasonal, a slice is quite big and filling but you’ll probably want some more ’cause it’s good. Nice and quite a bargain, it’s convenient for groups of friends with different tastes as located inside a covered market area (think London’s Borough market, but on a teeny tiny scale) where everyone can choose its stall and gather at a common table.
MozzaBella at Mercato delle Erbe (Via Ugobassi 29)
On the other side of Altro?, still inside Mercato delle Erbe, you’ll find another serious pizza baker. I already discussed Mozzabella here, reviewing their Pratello shop. Here in Via Ugo Bassi they have a smaller place, but pizzas are still as nice and creative as in the other shop (that is still my favorite). Top toppings include cheak pea cream and mortadella, stracciatella cheese and Parma ham, mixed veggies and purple potato. They use organic flours and have the pizzas levitate for 48 hours. Oh, and they are bakers coming from advertising, as you can see from theis constant urge -that I actually appreciate- to create puns with signs (it’s not always easy to get their actual name).
O fiore mio (Piazza Malpighi 8)
Strong on the “gourmet pizza” vibe, it’s conveniently located in the interection of Via del Pratello and Via Ugo Bassi, so that it can benefit from both crowds: the studentsy, young one and the more adult and sophisticated one. A bit more expensive than the previous ones, it uses organic flours and 24hours-levitated doughs. Most ingredients have the Slow Food trademarks.
Back to Altero. I love Altero, I really do. I just don’t think it’s proper “pizza al taglio” but somthing else altogether. Nevertheless, sometimes, especially in the winter or when I need some comfort food, I have a craving for its product. More important, and quite Proustian, Altero was the place when you used to go in the morning as a teen, when school was closed if there was a strike or for any other reason. So that peculiar blend of softness, fluffiness, warm mozzarella chewiness and sweet tomato flavour is actually something I am attached to. And I must not be the only one, since in the years Altero also opend in Via Ugo Bassi and in Via Clavature. Just, be careful calling it “pizza” in front of someone coming from any place south of Bologna. You’ve been warned.