Sunday, May 30, 2010

neapolitan pizza

Ever since we were blown away by Bricks Neapolitan Pizza in my parents' city of Hudson, Wisconsin, Matt and I have sought out the Neapolitan pizzerias in Madison. Neapolitan pizza is characterized by a thin crispy crust and a simple San Marzano tomato sauce baked in a very hot wood-fired oven for about 90 seconds. The oven has to be certified by a committee in Italy in order for the pizza to be authentically Neapolitan (that's where my knowledge ends--I'm certainly no expert).

Despite the similar ovens, the pizzerias we've visited have featured quite different pizzas. The topping options are diverse and will suit various tastes, but the real difference is in the crust. All the crusts are thin, crackery in some places and bubbly in others. The best crust we had was at Bricks: chewy and crusty all over the pie. The worst was probably Cafe Porta Alba, whose crust sagged under the weight of the tomato sauce.


our winner: Bricks' "Gusto"

Bricks offers creative topping combinations on either a red or white sauce with hand-stretched mozzarella. One of my favorites includes goat cheese, bacon, artichoke hearts, and red onion on the red sauce. Last time we visited we had one with melty gorgonzola, prosciutto, red onion, and red bell pepper. We enjoyed the foccacia di Bricks with Parmesan, rosemary, and olive oil. We were also lucky enough to receive a free salad that had been ordered for take out and abandoned. Named the "Mista", it was a truly delicious combination of greens, bacon, cherry tomatoes, artichoke hearts, Parmesan, and a Vidalia onion vinaigrette.

foccacia di Bricks

"Mista" salad

Pizza Brutta

I really enjoyed the topping options at Pizza Brutta in Madison, which I have posted about before. They also offer both red and white sauces. Matt was not happy with the softness of the crust, but it still had a nice char on it. I would like to try it again. It's a nice, casual place with very fast pizza if you're in a hurry.

the "Diavola": mozzarella, spiced salami, red pepper flakes, and pepperoncini

Cafe Porta Alba

The menu is somewhat more simple at Madison's Cafe Porta Alba. We ordered a buffalo mozzarella pizza and added salame. It was really too simple for our tastes. Our friends had the "Vegetariana". If we went again, I might try the "Alifana" with mozzarella, tomato, basil, artichokes, and salame.

buffalo mozzarella & salame

the Vegetariana


Finally, Matt also had a Neapolitan-style pizza at Lombardino's Restaurant. This one was fine, but not outstanding. However, Lombardino's pasta dishes are quite nice and their atmosphere is really kitschy and homey.

In the end, we've decided that Bricks' pizza is worth waiting to visit my parents for, but if we're craving Neapolitan pizza in Madison, we'd give Pizza Brutta another try.

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