March 03 2011
The struggle to find a decent meal after 10pm is one of my pet peeves about living in London. A recent attempt to secure a table on Saturday night at the insanely popular Tayyabs, a “highly scruptious” (their words, not mine) curry house in Whitechapel, left me longing to move to the Mediterranean. It also got me hankering for another trip to Ai Marmi, the ultimate Roman pizza parlour.
I stumbled upon this bastion of authenticity in the touristy Trastevere district on one of those heady nights when you’ve had one too many aperitivos and forgotten all about supper. It was the jostling crowds milling outside that drew me there.
The queuing etiquette is nigh impossible to negotiate if you don’t speak Italian and you’re not pushy by nature. Every few minutes, the door would open and a favoured patron was beckoned inside. As the door slammed shut, the painfully pleasurable aroma of melting mozzarella wafted out into the balmy night.
Once seated, the long wait for your pizza is equally agonising, but you can amuse yourself by admiring the nimble-fingered, flour-dusted pizzaioli or attempting to keep up with the quick-fire banter of the waiters.
Known as L’Obitorio (The Morgue) because the white marble tables look like mortuary slabs, this bustling joint makes no pretence at being fancy. But the spectacle is as enthralling as front-row seats at the Teatro dell’Opera for a fraction of the price. Wood-fired pizza margherita and an ice-cold Peroni will set you back about a tenner. Best of all, it’s open until 2am.