Pizza alla Romana or Pizza alla pala or Pizza in pala Romana is a variant of the most famous Neapolitan pizza which, as the name itself suggests, is found above all in the cuisine of Lazio and a bit throughout Central Italy both in restaurants and as street food. The term "Alla pala" derives from the fact that this pizza is placed on a long peel, a special tool made of wood or aluminum, which is used to put the pizza in the oven.
It can also be prepared and cooked directly in the square or rectangular pan, a bit like it is done at home or in some take-away pizzerias.
One of the master pizza chefs specializing in Roman-style pizza is Angelo Iezzi, owner of the Angelo e Simonetta pizzeria on Via Nomentana in Rome. Iezzi began working as a pizza chef at the age of 13 and during his career he won the World Pizza Championship several times (in 1992 and 1993). Angelo Iezzi is currently the president of the API (Italian Pizzeria Association) which also organizes courses to learn how to prepare pizza in the pan and on the peel, based in Rome.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ROMAN PIZZA AND NEAPOLITAN PIZZA
There are quite a few differences between the pizza "Alla pala" and the Neapolitan pizza, first of all the shape: while the Neapolitan one is circular, about 30-35 cm in diameter, the Roman pizza is rectangular, narrow and long, its dimensions are generally 1 meter long by 30 cm wide. This peculiar shape makes it very suitable for being presented in take-away pizzerias, or in restaurants for large tables of relatives and friends, no one would eat a peel pizza alone!
A second difference concerns the temperature and cooking times: pizza alla pala is cooked in an oven (wood or electric) at 250°C for around 7-10 minutes, a longer time than that expected for Neapolitan pizza which should cooked for just 90 seconds at a much higher temperature.
The final result is that the Neapolitan pizza, lower and thinner in the center (excluding the crust) must have a softer consistency, while the Roman pizza, taller and without the crust, will have a crunchier consistency and its interior must be the intense honeycombing is noticeable (see photo below), which is absent in Neapolitan pizza, a characteristic that makes it very similar to a focaccia.
As regards the dough, Roman pizza has a dough that is defined as "highly hydrated", because it contains 75-80% water compared to flour, while plated pizza is hydrated, on average, at 55-60%. .
For Roman-style pizza in pala it is often recommended to use very cold, iced water, to facilitate the absorption of the water, which would be made difficult if lukewarm water or at least room temperature was used. The leavening is done in the refrigerator for a period of at least 18/24 hours, which can be extended to 48 or more hours depending on the result you want to obtain.