Sorry for the brain lapse yesterday (get it? brain lapse!), but today I am back on the scene with the 6th posting of the Atlanta Pizza Days. Quick recap: we’ve been to Pizzeria Fortunato, Mellow Mushroom, Ray’s, Harry’s, and Shorty’s. I have Cameli’s and Rosa’s queued up, but today we have a destination that I was definitely looking forward to – Fritti.
Part of Riccardo Ullio’s “U” Restaurants, Fritti is one of the more popular pizza destinations in Atlanta, earning high praise in the form of constant crowds clamoring for the Naples style pizza from their wood burning oven. Fritti is the only pizza restaurant in Atlanta (actually, the only place south of the Mason-Dixon line) to have earned accreditation from the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association. The purpose of this association is to promote true Neapolitan pizza, and they have a strict list of requirements to be certified as a true purveyor of their style of pizza. The list includes everything from flour type, to dough rise time, to tomatoes, toppings, and cooking times. Only seven of the pizzas on Fritti’s menu are classified as VPN certified, the others do not meet standards, likely due to topping combinations, so Fritti breaks out the pizzas into two categories.
These kinds of rules definitely bring out the pizza geek in me, and it had been almost two years since my last visit to Fritti, so I was excited that we had eleven people that wanted to go on a Saturday night. Trying to fit that many people was impossible, and getting two tables of five and six was hard enough.
The night didn’t start well. Our reservation was for 9:30, late enough as it is, but we weren’t seated until after 10:30. We were fairly starving by the time we sat down, so they threw an appetizer at us, which the five of us at our table devoured in 2 minutes flat. The other table of six was seated even later. It’s frustrating when a restaurant overbooks tables; I would have preferred to have gone another time if I knew we wouldn’t eat until after 11PM.
We decided to split four pizzas for the five at our table, getting a wide variety of pizzas. The scores on theses pizzas are definitely going to be inconsistent as I wasn’t as methodical during this tasting. We didn’t pull out the spreadsheets. There wasn’t enough Margherita for everyone, so the scores could be for any pizza. Again, these scores should be taken lightly, it is the comments that are of value. Also, I think it’s worth noting that this style of pizza really isn’t going to reheat well so the blind scores should be taken into consideration. BUT, I guess it is good to know that if you are ordering a ton of pizza in order to have leftovers, Fritti might not be the place to do it.
Dough (average score -2.5/5)
- “thin, a little overcooked, not as much structure or char as I was expecting, often very soggy”
- “flat & salted properly, more like a crispy pita than pizza crust, no air bubbles retained by dough, no end crust to speak of”
- Blind Taste - “not bad flavor, but not crispy”
Sauce (average score – 3/5)
- “A few pizzas didn’t have sauce, but those that did were decent. Nothing special, often too much causing dough to be soggy”
- “not overpowering, didn’t stand out, make the flop too soggy”
- Blind Taste - Blind pizzas didn’t have sauce
Cheese (average score – 3.5/5)
- “Good cheese, especially on margherita, right amount, great flavor, real cheese”
- “good flavor, didn’t skimp on the cheese, browned slightly”
- Blind Taste - “way, way too salty”
Overall (average score – 2.88/5)
- “too soggy, unimpressive dough for my expectations, overall poor value”
- “for this size pizza at this price point there is better out there, good balance of flavor, crust brings down the score”
- Blind Taste - “reheated, not good”
Other free form comments from our group:
- “the prosciutto and arugula was excellent. Also liked the spinach one but the crust was soggy as we said…”
- “I thought the cheese, sauce, toppings and all of their proportions were very good… I was not brave enough to try the seafood medley.”
- “Mushrooms with the truffle oil were the shit.”
- “The prosciutto & arugula was excellent. The cured meat was awesomely salty. The other pies seemed to lack the structural integrity to maintain a crisp dough. It’s as if they got a bit waterlogged under the pressure of the sauce. The prosciutto pie’s lack of sauce may have been it’s saving grace.”
- “The combination of peppered salami, rosemary, and fresh tomatoes had me prepared for a taste overload. Unfortunately, the salami hogged, or overpowered, the whole experience. Pretty descent, but not my favorite of the four.”
- “Spinach pie was pretty flavorless.”
- “I thought the end crust was great. I like my pizza on the thin side, but I also like them to have some strength to their dough. The dough was a little bit loose for me. It’s all about the scene… I think Fritti is a great spot and will go back. When critiquing solely on pizza though, I’ll give it a middle of the class ranking.”
Final Thoughts: While a good time was had with friends, I was a little disappointed in my experience at Fritti, though I was definitely influenced by the wait. I understand that sometimes you can’t always be seated right away, but it was clear to me that they had overbooked, probably knowing we would just wait at the bar and spend more money.
The pizza itself was just OK to me. With their pedigree and oven, I was expecting better dough – a better char, more flavor, better structure, particularly on the endcrust. The Margherita had a nice char on the upskirt, but the rest were way too soggy. The non-dough aspects of the pizza were pretty good, but not mind-blowing. The cheese was quite tasty. The sauce was decent. The arugula pizza at Shorty’s was better to me. If the dough had lived up to my expectations then this would have been a much better experience. For the caliber of the restaurant, and the amount of money I spent (almost $50), it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Then again, that taste could have been the squid pizza.
BONUS DOUGH SECTION!
So you think I’m a dough snob? Well, maybe, but let me give you a visual example to explain. Below is a picture of the best slice I’ve ever had. In terms of attempted style, Fritti is the closest thing in Atlanta to this pizza. Attempted style…that’s where the similarities end.
Exhibit 1: You can see the bubble, the char, and the hole created on the bottom of the pizza. This indicates a fantastic, crisp charred upskirt.
Exhibit 2: Note the exterior char, noticeable, but not totally burned on the endcrust. This indicates proper cooking temperature and an amazing crunch on the endcrust.
Exhibit 3: Note the structure of the endcrust. While the overall pizza is quite thin, the endcrust has exploded, reminding me of the tube created by the break of a perfect surfing wave. Crunchy outside, airy, not dense, slightly chewy, amazing flavor inside the crust…what pizza is all about (to me).
Also of note, nice cheese coverage, not sparse, but not covering the whole slice, so you can taste the individual ingredients.
Now go back up to the top of this post and compare the crusts. THESE ARE SUPPOSED TO BE SIMILAR PIZZAS. But one of these is not like the other. You don’t even need taste buds to figure this one out, just look at evidence!