ROME : Hot, fresh and machine-made. An entrepreneur in a city with endless pizzzerias bets on adventurous diners.

Romans eat pizza all the time. They have pizza, a taglio, cut with scissors to the desired size and heaped with toppings, for lunch. They snack on Pizza bianca, without anything on it, or pizza rossa, with just tomato sauce, or pizzette, little pizzas.

Pizza scrocchiarelia, round and thin-crested, the type Americans might best recognize, is almost always reserved for dinner.

Essentially, Romans will eat pizza here and there, they will it eat anywhere. But would they, could they, eat it out of a vending machine?

Massimo Bucolo, a medical device salesman turned pizza entrepreneur, is betting they will. He has installed Rome's first no-nads pizza machine in a bustling neighborhood within a walking distance of the capital's main university.

He's hoping that the vending machine - which makes fresh pizza from scratch in exactly three minutes - will catch on with Rome's pizza-loving population, especially after hours, when traditional spots are closed and the clientele is, shall we say, less discerning.

''I'm not trying to compete with pizzerias. I'm proposing an alternative,'' Mr. Bucolo, 6, said one recent evening shortly after he had topped up the machine with cheese.

The reactions so far from pizza aficionados are perhaps what you'd expect in a city that gave birth to one of the world's first cookbooks, believed to have been written during the first-century reign of the Emperor Tiberius.

Granted, Rome is not Naples; in 2017 UNESCO put the thousands of Neapolitan pizza makers, or pizzaiuoli, on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

But Romans are at least as devoted to their pizzas, UNESCO recognition or not.

Renzo Panattoni, an owner of one of the city's oldest pizzerias - known to Romans as ''The Morgue'' because of its marble-topped tables - was dismissive of the Vending-machine pizza, he sniffed, ''has nothing to do with traditional pizza.''

He said he was sure locals would remain faithful to the thin-crust version his restaurant has been serving since 1931, though the thicker - crust Neapolitan pizza has been making significant inroads in the city. 

And food journalists and bloggers have mainly turned up their noses, with one comparing the vending machine's creation to a pizza she'd eaten in a rundown area of the Ecuadorian Amazon while on a mission with Oxfam.

''I was massacred,'' said Ms. Bucolo, who has named the business ''Mr.Go.''

But the critics may be counting out the sense of adventure that Mr. Bucolo is sure his vending machine can inspire.

On a recent evening, two I.T. workers stopped to ogle the machinery, and to eat. Customers can watch the machine do its work through glass panes, and the two young men recorded the process on their phones.

Wheels turned, the flour and water were mixed, the dough was kneaded, pressed into a disc and slathered with toppings [this part unseen] before being cooked in an infrared oven and finally plopped into a paper box : A piping hot margherita, the tomato and mozzarella staple.

''It's what I call the curiosity pizza because it's one that costs less and people are more likely to buy it if they just want to try it,'' Mr. Bucolo said.

The margherita options costs $4.50 euros, or about $5.50, while the most expensive, at Euro 6, is the four cheeses.

One of the tech workers, Maurizio Pietrangelo, bet that his purchase would be good enough. ''It's always going to be better than the frozen supermarket pizzas,'' he said. ''At east I expect it to be.''

The World Students Society thanks author Elisabetta Povoledo.


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