Everyone visiting or planning to visit Rome, the capital of Italy, it is almost certain that he will search for the best pizza in town. At the top 5 of every search, he will come across the name “La Montecarlo”. Located at number 13 of Vicolo Savelli Street, close to Piazza Navona- one of the top tourist attractions of Rome – and operating since 1986 at the same spot, this pizzeria is really one of the best in town. It is a regular place for the locals, it has an acceptable waiting time (they don’t make reservations), affordable prices and a casual atmosphere. The place is always full and noisy, the waiters are friendly and always in a rush, but all those are the things that make this place a real Roman experience.
The pizza is typical Roman with very thin dough and rich fresh ingredients on top. It is a little bit ugly and the edge is burned but at the same time one of the best you would ever taste. The pizza could have on top from cheese and pepperoni to aubergines and whole eggs. Apart from pizza, the place is also well known for its traditional Italian fried appetizers, the crocchettes (the most original of them are the fried olives). They also have some great pasta dishes. Thousands of tourists and locals have eaten here the last 33 years and no one has left unsatisfied, because the quality is always perfect.
But apart from a perfect pizzeria, this place (and especially its slightly leaning sign) has evolved into a pop icon. Many famous persons (actors, singers, politicians and many more) have visited the place for the last thirty years and the photos of their visits are hanging on the walls of the pizzeria. But in 2005, the famous singer-songwriter, frontman of the English group “The Smiths”, Morrissey visited this place and changed everything. He stayed in Rome a few months during 2005, in order to record his solo album “Ringleader of the Tormentors”. During his stay, he was photographed at various places around the city. From those photos, the one he shot underneath the leaning sign of La Montecarlo (after he had eaten there), in a mysterious way became the most famous and iconic.
This photo for the following years was used as the poster [above left] for many concerts of Morrissey around the world. Fans of Morrissey who were visiting Rome, searched for this pizzeria and its sign in order to be photographed underneath it like their favourite singer (a quick search on the web will certainly convince you). The sign has become a pop icon and a unique tourist attraction. It has been transformed into a shrine for Morrissey fans. The impact has been so big, that Morrissey himself when he visited Rome again in 2017, he went to the same spot and took a similar photo again [above right].
Now you can understand why this pizzeria is something more than an excellent restaurant. It offers one of the best pizzas in Rome, it offers a real Roman experience and at the same time, it has become a part of the last 20 years’ popular culture.
So … when in Rome do as Romans do… and don’t miss this place at any cost.
Finally a video from the online magazine “Il Corriere Italiano” dedicated to this famous pizzeria :
(*First and second photos are from the official site of La Montecarlo)