Following in the footsteps of Stefano Caligari and Giancarlo Casa, Pier Daniele Seu is currently Rome’s most creative pizza chef to watch. Seu first came to attention at Gazometro 38 back in 2014. He left that Ostiense pizzeria to open a stall in the Mercato Centrale in 2017 and quickly became one of that food hall’s greatest attractions. He recently opened the first stand-alone restaurant to bear his name, Seu Pizza Illuminati. The name is meant to invoke bright ideas (not Masons) and a lightness in the dough. Both are delivered, deliciously.
His arrival in southern Trastevere adds to an already burgeoning gastronomic quarter that hosts Tavernaccia di Bruno and Osteria Fernanda. From afar, the grim apartment block in which Seu’s pizzeria is housed gives no indication of the bright and modern space you’ll find upon arrival. The self-promotional artwork recalls what’s happening over at SantoPalato, and that’s not the only link between these two media darlings. Both places – one a trattoria and one a pizzaria – are helmed by young chefs who are cooking (and Facebooking) for a young audience. Both have serious culinary chops and and a respect for tradition. Both know how to push the envelope while editing their ideas to keep from veering into the ridiculous.
Seu has nailed the classic Neopolitan pies (marinara & margherita, plus the DOP pictured below), but his creative pizzas are also a joy to taste. Riffing on the classic snack of pizza bianca with mortadella, the “Indiviata” balances fatty mortadella with ricotta cream, slightly bitter endives, toasted pistachios, mozzarella and nutmeg. It’s delicious. I wish I were eating it again right now. I’d like to return for the server-recommended “SANTO/rini” which combines fioccho della tushia cheese with Santoro salami and tangerine gel. It sounds vaguely repulsive, but I have enough faith now in Seu’s taste to trust him with such advanced maneuvers.
Beyond pizza, the fried starters are among the best you’ll find in Rome. Seu’s cacio e pepe croquette is particularly good and much creamier than I’ve tasted elsewhere. His amatriciana and carbonara supplì are punchy and delicious. With limited belly space, it’s frustrating to want to overeat from so many sections of the menu. Perhaps it’s lucky then that his desserts are not particularly inspiring. Better to double down on the fritti and forgo the sweets. There’s an excellent selection of amari if you’d like an alternate finish.
Seu Pizza Illuminati is open only for dinner (find him at the Mercato Centrale for lunch) and reservations are strongly recommended. If you haven’t managed that, there’s a bar counter with stools overlooking the kitchen which can accommodate walk-ins.
We’ve included this among our Favorite Restaurants in Rome.
Seu Pizza Illuminati in Pictures
Photos by Meg Zimbeck © Rome by Mouth
What people are saying
- Luciano Pignatero (2018) takes an in-depth look at the new project and discusses the technically advanced Valoriani oven which reaches up to 420° and can cook four pizzas at a time in just over 90 seconds. They explain that bruschetta offerings on the menu are a tribute to Seu’s grandparents who used to prepare them as a snack before days spent at the beach in Sardinia.
- Puntarella Rossa (2018) interviews Pier Daniele Seu and quotes him admitting that he writes poetry, dreams of opening one day in the United States, and that Gabriele Bonci taught him “respect for raw materials and for work. He gave me great lessons on doing business.”
- An American in Rome (2018) explains that “His ‘Enlightened’ approach to pizza has to do with ingredients, but also with design and ambiance. So Seu Pizza is not just your run of the mill pizzeria – it is modern, with cool white marble and slick black finishings.” As for the food, “The eggplant parm was one of the better fried things I have had in my life.” She raves about the perfect crust on the pizzas and advises that you definitely need a reservation.
- I Cento (2018) named Daniel Seu “Una Grande Promessa” for his pizza stand inside the Mercato Centrale, before he opened his stand-alone pizzeria in Trastevere in April 2018.
Also Recommended for Pizza
La Gatta Mangiona in Monteverde
Also Recommended in this Neighborhood
La Tavernaccia di Bruno in Trastevere