Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The pizza debate continues

My night off from the Restaurant granted me entry to Da Baffetto Pizzeria, an 80 year old institution here in Roma. I find Pizza as a topic to be exhausted, but not without reason. From a Pizza filled childhood in Brooklyn to firsthand experience on a Buffalo farm in Campania I have paid enough dues to have an informed opinion, but not the energy to engage in its controversy.

Once past the velvet rope (an ordeal like all lauded Pizza palaces), I ordered a simple Margarita Pizza and a large beer. I stared into the wood oven stove for my whole meal, watching each pie sizzle and form upon entrance. This is traditional Roman Pizza, paper thin which directly changes the scientific process and speed at which its preparation is performed. The instant the Pizza enters the oven a dark individual cloud (per pizza) lifts from beneath and perfumes the pie. In less than a minute the Pizza has reached its moment. PRONTO! The skill is exiting these little treasures before they burn. Like a sushi chef, its all in the wrist and not easily done.

The crust:

My Pizza’s char overshadowed its rich tomato cheesiness. As beloved as this pie is, it shows a remarkable inconsistency. Nominating my own pie was an intense internal dialogue. I saw Pizza’s of perfection, others with simply too much char. My Pizza was the latter. The crust plays a different role in Roman Pizza, it’s about the crunch, rather than a soft pillow interior to offset its other textures.

The taste:

Gooey and combined, my pizza’s interior was sweet and salty but without pungency. It lacked the complexity of the Pizza in Campania / Naples. It’s more straightforward and there is little separation between the ingredients. With a slightly thicker crust your cheese and sauce have a different relationship; they don’t just jump into bed together. There is foreplay in the oven, but the sex happens in your mouth (the second date at the table;). If your Pizza in Roma is held up in traffic, you miss the money shot. In Campania you can see a visual separation; the freshness of the Buffalo Mozarella refuses to fully immerse itself in the sauce. It’s too proud. The Basil leaf has a similar reaction to its first date. It holds onto its own scent, arrogantly.

I will return for their house specialty tho' (above) with Sausage, Mushrooms, Tomato Sauce, Mozzarella, Peppers and an egg cracked in the center.

No comments: