Rome Gets Its First Pizza Vending Machine. Will Romans Bite?

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If Mr. Bucolo is fearful of encroaching on a sacred staple, he might be heartened by the experience of Domino’s Pizza, which opened its first Italian venue in 2015 and now has 34 restaurants, mostly in the north.

The company has opened five sites in Rome since last November, suggesting that it has made inroads with the city’s diners. Chiara Valenti, marketing manager of Domino’s Pizza Italia, attributed the success partly to beating competitors on delivery times, and adapting to local tastes.

Domino’s also counted on the notion that there were plenty of adventurous Italians who were open to sampling “new tastes,” she said, like cheeseburger pizza or BBQ chicken pizza.

“These are people who are not afraid of putting pineapple on a pizza,” Ms. Valenti said, a reference to the often-derided ham and pineapple combo popular in many markets but “a taboo in Italy” because it is associated with a lower-quality product. “That’s just a stereotype,” she said.

Unlike many of his compatriots, Marco Bolasco, a prominent food journalist in Italy, was more equivocal in his assessment of pizza newcomers. He said pizza was “a design concept” that leaves gastronomic room for vending machine pizzas and Domino’s. Such pizza is seen “as an exotic object, like sushi or hamburger,” he clarified, adding, “There’s interest, but for an Italian it’s like eating something that’s not really pizza.”

Dario Cuomo, a screenwriter, was a somewhat easier mark. He bought a pizza with a couple of friends, who commented on the dough preparation (not enough time), cooking method (too violent) and its appearance (a Saltine). Then he took a bite.

“Not bad,” he declared, “considering it was made by a robot.”



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