Yeah, it’s no secret I’m sort of a pizza nut. I love the stuff; I like reading about it, writing about it, discussing it, cooking it, of course consuming/inhaling it, and hell, I even like looking at it. My obsession level is still probably sophomoric compared to that of many. Go check out the pizza freaks on the pizza making forums.
Many of those folks eat pizza on a near daily basis. When I eat pizza I tend to hit it hard, dining out and making it a bunch at home for a week or two. Then abruptly I stop for weeks, or even months. I’ve had very little pizza during my paleo challenge, probably just a slice or two.
The challenge has actually ended as of this past weekend. I was out of town when the body fat tester returned so I didn’t get to record my muscle gain/fat loss, though I did feel much leaner and a bit stronger. We did a timed benchmark workout at the start and finish of the challenge, and I saw over 20% improvement in my time. Of course, much of that could be contributed to the frequency of my gym visits instead of my diet, but I learned a lot and will post on it one day. I’m sure you will be on the edge of your seat waiting for that one.
Oh, and before I move on, here are some worth while pizza links I’ve come across lately.
The Best Thing I’ve Ever Done [amazing video about Dom DeMarco, who has made every single pizza himself at Di Fara pizza in Brooklyn for over forty years.]
Best Pizza Places in the US [Food & Wine - these lists are a dime a dozen, but I always look at them. I've been to 4 of their 25.]
American Pie [Alan Richman's tome to American pizza (he says we do it better than the Italians), plus another top 25 list. I only have two hits on his.]
What is VPN pizza? [Everything you need to know about the famed Neapolitan standard, to which locals Fritti, Antico, and Double Zero apply]
Pizza dough arguments [AJC - Kessler disses the dough from Fritti's new ovens, pizza fans and owner Riccardo Ullio agree or disagree. I haven't been since the change - where do you stand?]
Pizza Quest [Online pizza resource led by Peter Reinhart, sponsored by Forno Bravo - lots of good info]
<> ON TO SOME PIZZA <>
I visited Hearth Pizza Tavern in Sandy Springs prior to “the diet”. I had never been but was told great things by friends in this area. They have a large and varied menu, with many changing specials, such as the Philly sliders we tried. They were greasy and good but I didn’t understand the ketchup, and I swear someone drizzled some truffle oil on there. Not like that’s a tough flavor to identify, but the waitress said I was wrong.
We tried the Ring of Fire as well as the Mass Pike pizza, two of their signature pies. Wowzas, these are some loaded up pizzas. Very topping driven. While I’m more of a dough guy, a huge dose of greasy and flavorful toppings (sausage and peppers and mushrooms and cilantro and chili oil, oh my!) can be real enjoyable. The dough did it’s job – which in this case was to sustain the large mass of said toppings. Slightly above average dough flavor. Everything tasted good, but again, don’t expect the VPN style…it’s more like delicious and creative hangover pie.
Fast forward two months, last night we visited the newly opened Siracusa’s on the East/West Connector. Formerly Pizzeria Fortunato, the new restaurant is pretty much the same inside, and they claim it’s the same pizza, even touting “2009 Creative Loafing Best Pizza in Atlanta” on the strip mall sign.
The menu is similar, but lacking a few items I enjoyed (the sinful pan fried provolone), but with a few new items, like the zucchini fritti below. The batter was light, though unseasoned, and while not a must-order dish, the very thin slices of zucchini didn’t feel too heavy and hit the spot.
For pizza we ordered a Margherita pizza with sausage. I recalled that Fortunato had two “plain” pizzas in the past. A regular and a Margherita. The regular is the pie on the left below, the Margherita the one on the right. The Margherita was sparsely covered with fresh buffalo mozzarella while the regular was more like a slice of NY style ‘za.
While the dough is similar in appearance, the new Margherita was like neither. Sliced tomatoes instead of tomato sauce (not a fan here), a bit more cheese, but not NY style. The sausage used to be spicy and crumbled but is now a average tasting sliced version. The dough is similar in texture, shape, thickness, and overall appearance, but was even more bland that I found Fortunato’s to be. The dough is in some serious need of some salt. And less sugar. A day or two of cold ferment could really help with the flavor, and probably texture too. I really didn’t enjoy the dough, and the toppings didn’t really make up for it, though the fresh mozz was nice.
I really, really don’t enjoy saying I dislike a new restaurant (especially pizza), but I don’t know that I’ll be risking another $20 for a medium pizza of this caliber.
Of course, they are brand new (damn these bloggers and their itchy camera fingers!), so things could change. If you have a better experience I’d love to hear about it.