Being an American, I love pizza. Being a foodie, I love authentic pizza … Napolitano. I’ve become not just a bit of a snob, but a b!tch of a snob. The crust must have an outer ring … a cornice, a canotto … and the fact that this is a form of bread is celebrated with a soft texture that is slightly chewy and flavorful. Not just air bubbles … that’s finto, falso … it’s also bad eats. The toppings rest on a thin layer of dough, simple and fresh, spread across the top in a way that is neither skimpy nor exaggerated, balanced without being extravagant.
There’s classic … Margherita. Trendy … asparagus and fried egg.
Readers of this blog know that I hate, loath, and generally despise local pizza. It is … crunchy. Crunchy! Crunchy is fine in some flatbreads … Sardinians make carta di musica … Abruzzo has pizza scima (made without yeast) … a quasi-cracker with toppings is called pane arabia.
Real pizza is chewy.
Local friends might tell us this pizzeria or that one is good. I’m not convinced. I always insist on seeing a pie, piping hot from the wood-fired oven, before I will even consider thinking about maybe ordering one. No, I haven’t opened a Take Away box … but I’ve thought about it.
Twas Friday before Christmas and all through Bologna,
No car was amoving,
Not even our Jetta.
We had an appointment mid-afternoon in Bologna, and were done as the sun was setting on the eve of the winter solstice. Our friends, Domenico and Antonella, who live nearby, were going to a holiday party … it was still too early to eat at a nice trattoria … Ikea was out of the way during rush hour traffic … we didn’t want to wait around for 2 hours until good restaurants opened for the evening, then get home at midnight.
The autostrada was jammed, every car, bike and truck
Was driving so slowly, we, too, were now stuck.
The rain didn’t help as we merged on A1
Let’s hope that this stretch is a little more fun.
Navigation turned red and the drive just got longer
Adding minute by minute, we soon would have hunger.
We can go to La Torre, the pizza is good
We should try it to know if there’s pie in our ‘hood.
David & I both had the same idea … kismet. LA TORRE is conveniently between the autostrada and our house, so I googled their phone number and made a reservation.
We remembered that it was Cesare who told us the pizza there was better than most other local spots. The list of people I believe when I hear that statement I can count on 1 hand … and I’d have to see for myself before I added him to that select group. But it would be good to have a pizzeria less than two hours away when we were in the mood for pizza. Otherwise, we could just fire up our own forno.
It was pouring as we got out of the car.
We happily settled at our table, and David ordered a bottle of wine … a 2018 Sogno di Volpe, from Puglia. We were exhausted. It tasted light and refreshing.
I explained my conundrum to the waiter. As we reviewed the menu, a pizza was delivered to another table. And … it passed initial inspection. Sigh of relief … though Plan B would have been to enjoy a bowl of pasta.
We ordered two antipasti. The mussels in tomato sauce were great … the slightly spicy sauce was a tasty pairing with the tender mussels, so good it required bread to soak up every delicious drop. The other dish was octopus with olives served on creamy soft polenta … tender meat and salty olives made a great combination of flavors and textures with the fine graininess of the polenta. So far, this is more than just a pizzeria.
The first courses were eaten with the plates being empty
With visions of pizza that we would soon see.
When what to my wondering eye should appear …
A pizza so good, please bring it right here.
And then the moment of truth … drum roll please … as we collectively held our breath. We ordered a white pizza with pumpkin, grilled leeks, mozzarella, and pumpkin seeds. It arrived, smiling that cornice smile of love, kissed by the flames in the oven. The toppings were flavorful, unique and unusual, sweet and savory. The crust is what crust should be … chewy, toothsome, wheaty. (Not a wheaty wench, but a sturdy stud of bread.) I was happy. And David agreed that it was better than anything within 20 miles.
To make the meal more enjoyable, there was a cute little dog under the next table. Of course I talked with her … a grey, uncut poodle who was so very soft and sweet.
For dessert, we decided to try the tiramisu. It was classically good … coffee and cocoa combined with mascarpone-infused custard into creamy dreaminess.
I know what you’re thinking. Cats might like pumpkin, but they cannot eat leeks.
That’s why we ordered a pizza specially and specifically for them. Pizza bianca with cooked ham and mozzarella. They liked it, too … and our bread lovers, Bailame and Hayden, were more than happy to eat some of the canotto. The next day for lunch, all of us enjoyed the leftovers.
Now Annie, now Hayden, now Bailame and Aurora,
On Betelgeuse, on Allegra, also daddy and mamma.
To the top of the pizza, to the top of the crust
Eat away, eat away, eat it we must.
6 oz. butter, softened
1–½ cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
1 cup walnuts, chopped
- Butter and flour a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan. Preheat oven to 325°F (160° C).
- In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add eggs, then the pumpkin.
- Stir in flour, baking soda and baking powder, and the spices, mixing until blended
- Fold in the walnuts.
- Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake for 45–50 minutes, until a toothpick tests done.
- Serve at any temperature. Cinnamon ice cream, optional.