Tucked in with a smoke shop, a car stereo dealer, and a vendor of coins and firearms, Campania is pumping out top 10 list-caliber pies and may just be the best-kept pizza secret in town. For now.
'Neapolitan pizza' on Serious Eats
When asked about transitioning from the finance world to the restaurant industry, Steven Dilley humbly explained, "I'm passionate about what I'm doing, so I feel I can make at least something passable." Lifelong food lover casts aside desk job to open a restaurant? The story may be increasingly commonplace these days, but it rarely fails to inspire. No less so in the case of the half Italian, half Taiwanese chef, who returned to Austin after a decade in NYC to embrace his passion for cooking. Three years later, and his dream has finally been realized, in the form of Bufalina, a Neapolitan-style pizzeria.
I've waxed rhapsodic on more than one occasion about the combined power of the Kettle Pizza and Pizza Steel. But not everyone has a coal grill. For some folks, the convenience of gas simply trumps the flavor and heat advantages you get from live coals. We tested two models at opposite ends of the price range that promise to produce wood-fired Neapolitan-style results with nothing but a propane tank as the fuel source.
Ask a Washingtonian for recommendations on where newcomers should eat and more likely than not their list will include 2Amys and Standard. Shining stars of comforting Italian and neighborhood charm, respectively, it's hard to imagine any product of a collaboration of the two teams would be anything less than stellar. And sure enough, when 2Amys founders Peter Pastan and Amy Morgan teamed up with Standard co-owners Tad Curtz and David Rosner to quietly open Etto, they didn't disappoint.
Our friends over at Saveur just came out with their May issue, and we simply can't get enough of it. The magazine has been scooping up James Beard awards for years, so it's no surprise that the issue is gorgeous, thoughtful, and smart. But this time around, it also happens to be all about pizza.
A one-man pizza station is one thing; a pizzeria run by a solitary man is another. And ever since Joe Beddia opened the latter, he's had to address the unforeseen on his own. We take an early look at his eponymous pizzeria in Philadelphia's Fishtown.
A few months ago, my wife and I spent all of 24 hours in Naples on our way home from Sicily. It was probably the second-most pizza-packed 24 hours of my life (the first being when I took my Colombian brother-in-law on a whirlwind pizza tour of New York). We hit over a half dozen pizzerias over lunch alone, and a few more for dinner. Here now, I present to you the Serious Eats guide to Eating Pizza in Naples.
Great pizza can be found in the unlikeliest places, and if there's one man that knows how to follow his nose to great new pizza finds, it's Ed. If he'd heeded Erin Zimmer's call for the best thing he ate in September, he would have written about the insanely delicious Margherita pizza he happened upon in downtown New Bedford, Massachusetts, at a place called Brick Pizzeria Napoletana. Terrific, just chewy and puffy enough sourdough crust, fresh mozzarella, leaves of fresh basil, and San Marzano tomatoes, made in a wood-fired brick oven. All these great ingredients wouldn't mean a thing if the pizzaiolo owner didn't know what he was doing.
I've been following the recent developments within and around my favorite dive bar—Mulberry Street Bar on Mulberry between Grand and Broome—with great interest. It's always a little frightening when one of your favorite haunts comes under new ownership, especially when it's a relatively recently discovered new haunt. I mean, we were still in our honeymoon phase before she up and changed on me. So how do the new pizzas stack up?
We've gone through a lot of pizza styles and recipes here at The Pizza Lab, but I still often get asked "what's the best pizza crust recipe you know?" When I'm in the mood to fire up the grill or heat up the broiler, I might take my time and make a Neapolitan-style lean dough. If I want to relive my childhood without stepping out my apartment door, it's a New York-style. Company coming over and I want to feed a crowd without messing up the kitchen? It's Sicilian-style square pie all the way. Here's a brief run-down on the three recipes that every home pie-maker should have in their arsenal to tackle all manner of pizza-centric circumstances.
For a long time, owner Enzo Algarme has been doing most of the heavy lifting at Pupatella. Although he's had the montanara in the back of his mind since his food truck days, having grown up eating it on the streets of Naples as a child, he didn't want to stretch himself too thin, lest the quality of his other pies suffer. When he was able to bring on some more employees earlier this year, he seized that opportunity to start offering the montanara on a limited basis. If you're as happy as I am that D.C. is keeping up with New York's pizza scene in even the remotest aspect, it is your solemn duty to make it out to Pupatella and demand the montanara as frequently as possible.
Neapolitan style pizza with one key difference. Before going in the oven, the stretched-out disk of dough is deep fried until crisp. I figured it was worth a deeper look. I'm glad I did, because I can tell you that these were some of the finest pies to ever come out of my home kitchen, and believe it or not, it's remarkably simple to do.
[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt] This pizza may sound heavy, but it comes out light, crisp, and airy. Easily one of the best, tastiest ways to cook pizza at home without a wood-burning oven. Note: Use high quality fresh mozzarella or...
Things I've overheard in a Neapolitan pizzeria lately:
- "Oh, wow, there's not that much cheese on this."
- "They're pretty small. You could probably eat one yourself." (Waitress to customer.)
- "You can't really pick it up."
I guess that even after the great pizza renaissance of the 2000s, Neapolitan pizza is still new to some folks. And, whatever, that's cools. I just figured I'd try to demystify it a bit if you've never had it.
Update/note: This post is geared toward folks in the U.S. or elsewhere who have never tried Neapolitan, Neapolitan-style, or Neapolitan-inspired pizza. It does not pertain to actual Neapolitan pizza in Naples, Italy.
"Here's the most significant difference between New York style and Italian-style pizza: You eat it with a knife and fork. At no point is it acceptable, what I've seen with this technique, nationwide, you don't see people picking up the slice. They don't pick it up. Kooky, right?"
Pop quiz: what do whipped cream, Nerf footballs, Pizza, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses have in common? That's right — they're all foams. Wait, huh? Pizzas are foams? You mean those annoying, piddly things that chefs were goofing around with in the mid 2000's? That's right, as are hot dog buns, Wonderbread, Pane di Genzano, Portuguese rolls, Naan, pancakes, and pretty much every other leavened batter or dough-based product in the world.
In December, USA Today put out a list of 51 great pizzerias: one for each state and Washington, DC. Did you happen to notice which spot was chosen as New York's representative to this pizza Senate? Was it Totonno's? Motorino? Di Fara? Nope, it wasn't one of those. The New York pick was ZaZa.
It may not be fair, but when a pizzeria bills itself as Neapolitan, I think it sets the expectation that the crust is going to be a highlight of the pie. At Ciao Napoli, everything except the crust was great, but it wasn't enough to overcome the dense and bland base.
Ridgewood, New Jersey's A Mano looks to disrupt the Garden State's sweet-sauce stereotype. Their Neapolitan-style pizzas come directly from a 1000-degree wood-burning oven built with stones and clay imported from Italy. The brainchild of pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio (now of Kesté in the West Village), A Mano is certified by both the VPM (Verace Pizza Napoletana) and the APN (Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani). A Mano's pie shares more resemblance to its cousins back in the old country than to its neighbor down the street.
Pupatella, Enzo Algarme and Anastasiya Laufenberg's wildly popular new restaurant in Arlington, Virginia, sets a new standard for affordable eating in the DC area. Just six miles west of the White House, this Neapolitan-style pizzeria turns out ethereal pies at earthbound prices.