After getting through the unusual setup, this is pretty much the book you probably expect it to be. It is not as much a fish out of water story after the first few chapters where Rick gets used to Italian cuisine, the intricacies of parking, and the power of opera. At that point, the book is pretty much the same old football story you might have read before, just in a different locale.
However, I did enjoy the story. Grisham gives us more about food and architecture than Italian football, but maybe there isn't all that much to tell. While some plot has some flaws, the narrative is paced okay and entertaining. Playing for Pizza is a nice little diversion, particularly for those who like sports stories, and I’m a bit of a sucker for those.