Rione, serving Roman-style pizza, to open in Center City

Rione_Francesco-in-Rome_1200
Rione co-owner Francesco Crovetti sampling pizza al taglio in his native Rome.

Francesco Crovetti's two passions - aside from his wife, Alison, I surmise - are pizza and European soccer, Seria A, in particular.

The Rome native and his wife are planning to feature both at their pizzeria, Rione, opening in late spring or early summer at 102 S. 21st St., where Slate was. It's next door to the rollicking new Poi Dog Snack Shop.

Rione will sell Roman-style pizza al taglio (pizza by the "cut" or slice), a common street food baked in rectangular trays and sold by the slice or tray. (It was a feature of the Pizzeria Vetri menu at King of Prussia Mall until very recently.)

The Crovettis' dough will get a 72-hour rise, as they're going for pizza that is light, airy, and easy to digest.

In 2015, the couple moved to Philadelphia from Washington, where Francesco worked at Il Canale and Zaytinya. In Philadelphia, he worked at Gran Caffe L'Aquila following his training at Rome's Scuola Nazionale di Pizza. He's been it the pizza biz for seven years, in both management and as a pizzaiolo specializing in Pizza Napoletana. Alison works in business development for the nonprofit Save the Children; before that, she worked for the United Nations.  

Rione's selection of pizza al taglio will rotate, and the pizza can be ordered at the quick-service counter for dine-in or takeout. Also on the menu will be salads, desserts, and rotating Roman specialties such as suppli al telefono. The quick-service area will have bar seating for seven, while the dining room can accommodate 26.

It will be BYOB, open seven days a week. And soccer will be on the tube.

Alison explains that the name "Rione" is from the Italian term describing the districts or neighborhoods of Rome. "We choose the name for two reasons," she said by email. "First, because Philadelphia is described affectionately as a city of neighborhoods and we wanted to draw the connection between Rome and Philadelphia. Secondly, we want to establish ourselves as a neighborhood pizzeria."