Posted by: Kristie | November 30, 2009

The Great Pizza Quest

It all began with my friend Shannon’s search for Neapolitan-style pizza in Florence. Up until that point, we had only had Cinque Terre-style pizza, which is similar to what we think of as foccaccia but with toppings. Tasty, but not what we were looking for.

For those of you unfamiliar with Neapolitan-style pizza, this is the traditional pizza from Naples. Envision a thin crust with a billowy, crispy and chewy outer crust. According to Wikipedia (so it must be true), one attribute of an authentic Neapolitan pizza is a hand-tossed crust and it must be cooked over an oak-wood fire for only 45–60 seconds. Talk about efficient cooking. There only seems to be one size, which is similar to a medium here in the U.S.

The Top Three

Il Pizzaiuolo (Florence)

As mentioned in a previous post, this pizza was divine and became the driving force behind our quest. We couldn’t believe we had the best pizza on our first start, but ultimately this placed reigned supreme for Brett.

Dar Poeta (Rome)

“Our pizza is neither Roman pizza (low and crisp), nor Neapolitan pizza (think on the edge and spongy) our pizza is…Dar Poeta.” This is what greets you on the front of Dar Poeta’s menu and I immediately thought pretentious. I was skeptical about this place. It was highly recommended through various sources and has become somewhat famous, definitely not an undiscovered gem. With places like that, I tend to be more critical. But ultimately, their statement ended up being a perfect description of their pizza. The crust was thinner than a Neapolitan pizza, but not crispy like the traditional Roman style. We originally ordered just one pizza — the Dar Poeta — and a mixed salad that we shared. On the way to Dar Poeta, we had stopped at another pizza place to try a slice, so we thought it would be prudent for our expanding waistline to only get one pizza. The Dar Poeta featured a layer of mozzarella, topped with zucchini, ciauscolo (Italian salami), garlic and a light dusting of chili pepper. It was heaven on a plate — chewy, fresh and incredibly flavorful. I think the chili pepper was the key.

It makes my mouth water just looking at it

And of course, in the grand tradition of Brett and Kristie overeating, we couldn’t help but order another one, the Lingua de foco, a fiery concoction of tomato, mozzarella and spicy salami. And we couldn’t just stop there, we had to get their ricotta and Nutella calzone to go. Absolutely incredible and definitely worth the millions of calories. Overall, this was my favorite place. We were lucky enough not to wait, but there was a line when we left. The atmosphere was cozy and vibrant, the service was friendly, expect for the owner/manager who was kind of an ass, but that seemed to be the Roman way.

Underneath that layer cheese was large slices of spicy salami

Accasadi (Rome)

This place was an undiscovered gem, at least for the typical Roman tourist. The locals definitely knew about it, so it was packed every night, fully booked. Accasadi is part of City Guest House, a small boutique hotel in the Tuscolano area, southeast of Rome, where we stayed. It’s situated close to the metro, but not in an area frequented by tourists.

We had heard the hotel’s restaurant was good so we decided to eat there one night after a long day of walking around the city. It was Sunday night and we barely got a reservation. Made in the typical Roman style, this pizza was thin, crunchy and crispy, but strong enough to hold the weight of the toppings without getting flimsy. We started out with the bruchetta, which was flavorful and not overpriced (like some we’ve had). Brett ordered the tartufona pizza with prosciutto and black truffles. I ordered the accasadi, a mix of buffalo mozzarella, fresh tomato and pesto. Both were scrumptious, fresh and featured the satisfying crunch of the crust. We capped off the meal with an incredible and unique tiramusu that used fresh warm espresso. And their house red wine was delicious to boot!

Brett's tartufona pizza. This was actually from our last night in Rome, we decided to get Accasadi again since it was easy and close.

Honorable Mentions

Palazzo Pretorio (San Donato, near Florence)

Recommended by the Tuscany property manager, this quaint restaurant had good solid Neapolitan-style pizza, not the most memorable, but tasty and affordable with quality ingredients.

My pizza with mozzarella, pesto, zucchini and tomatoes

Brett's pizza with arugula, sausage and tomatoes

Pizzarium (Rome)

The other type of Roman pizza is thick, baked in a rectangular and mostly served by the slice. This is the specialty of Pizzarium, known as one of Rome’s pizza-by-the-slice places and conveniently located near the Vatican. The pizza featured seasonal ingredients as well as old standbys like Pizza Bianca (a type of bread topped with olive oil, salt and rosemary). The place is small, so you may have to wait. But it’s worth it.

Pizza Bianca, some type of fish and potato and some type of raw meat pizza. We had trouble communicating at this place so we weren't exactly sure what we were eating.

For those of you who know the Roman pizza scene, we did not get to Da Baffeto. We’ll save that for next time.

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