Pizza Romi: A great new addition to Jerusalem - review

When Pizza Romi opened at the old location of Buchman's pizza in Talpiot, its first customer, and frequent repeating customer, was Lazer Cohen. He thinks it might be Jerusalem's best.

 Pizza Romi (photo credit: ASSAF KERALA)
Pizza Romi
(photo credit: ASSAF KERALA)

There’s already a lot of pizza in the Baka/Talpiot neighborhood. So I was surprised when Pizza Romi opened where Buchman’s Pizza used to be, after Buchman’s moved up the hill. By the way, that’s how you know you’ve lived somewhere for a while – you refer to a new establishment as being where the old “whatever” used to be.

The decor at Romi is pleasant – gray slate floors, nice tables and chairs, and a giant pizza oven imported from Italy that heats up to 500 degrees. The co-owner, Shachar Sagi, 30, is also pleasant. This is his first venture into a restaurant, although his partner already owns a branch in Mevaseret Zion.

Shachar says he grew up eating Pizza Romi which was right next to his elementary school in Pisgat Ze’ev. While the Talpiot branch was undergoing renovation, he went and studied at the Pizza Romi mother ship in Pisgat Ze’ev.

I took my favorite husband for a late lunch. We started with the garlic bread (NIS 15), which was airy and not at all greasy. It was served with cream cheese on the side, a pairing I hadn’t ever considered. Then it was time for the main event, the pizza. We ordered a family size pizza (NIS 74), which was very large, and asked for mushrooms on half, and corn on the other half. Toppings are NIS 8 per topping for the whole pie, and NIS 12 for special toppings, including goat cheese and honey, which Shachar says he will offer as soon as he finds a mehadrin goat cheese.

“I think this might be the best pizza in Jerusalem. The crust is thin and charred, and nobody else makes it like that.”

Lazer Cohen

Is this the best pizza in Jerusalem?

While our pizza was cooking, a customer named Lazer Cohen came in and ordered a personal pie (NIS 37) with olives and spicy peppers. It turns out that Lazer was the first customer when Pizza Romi opened just over a month ago, and he’s been back several times since.

New York family pizza (credit: Courtesy)
New York family pizza (credit: Courtesy)

“I think this might be the best pizza in Jerusalem,” he said. “The crust is thin and charred, and nobody else makes it like that.”

Shachar says he decided to make his restaurant mehadrin despite the difficulty it entailed.

“My father told me that if I opened a mehadrin restaurant, I would get blessing,” he said, so he did, despite the fact that neither he nor his father is religious.

The pizza dough rises for 24 hours, just like in Italy, and the sauce was good. What’s different here is the cheese. Pizza Romi uses 100% Emek cheese with 38% fat instead of mozzarella. He says it’s easier on the stomach and less oily. When the pizza arrived, it had no extra oil on top and felt lighter than most pizzas. It is not gourmet pizza but well-made pizza that is great for a family dinner.

The mehadrin certification means the place also caters to yeshiva kids from Merkaz HaTorah in the neighborhood. While we were there, several groups of American yeshiva boys came in and seemed to be regulars. Shachar told me that one of the young men asked for ketchup, which Shachar correctly refused to give him, saying it would ruin the pizza. The young man then went to the supermarket next door, bought ketchup, put it on his pizza and asked Shachar to store it for him, at which point he gave in. So now this young man has his personal ketchup at Pizza Romi. It reminds me of a beer hall in Munich where regular customers had their own beer steins that they kept at the beer hall.

Shachar says he plans to expand the menu to include homemade pastas. There are already several salads on offer, including a caprese salad (NIS 42) of tomato, basil and mozzarella, and a lettuce salad (NIS 37) with a mix of lettuce, Bulgarian cheese, cashews, pistachios and almonds, although I did not try them.

Overall, Pizza Romi is a great addition to the hood of Baka, Arnona and Talpiot and is fast becoming a new hangout. Delivery is available for 10 NIS.

Pizza Romi103 Hebron RoadTel: (02) 622-2249Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m.Kashrut: Mehadrin

The writer was a guest of the restaurant.