Saturday, August 27, 2016

You've stolen a pizza my heart, NOLA. Pizza Domenica

Everyone thinks they're an expert when it comes to pizza, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't know my way around a pie. I've gone to extraordinary lengths in the past to satisfy my cravings for the Italian flatbread that has been baking in ovens since the 10th century. I've ordered it from seedy dive bars and two-bit motels in the middle of no name towns. I've chowed down on its deeper, more sophisticated versions at Lou Malnati's in Chicago. I've roamed the snowy streets of Manhattan looking for the perfect, fold-able slice. I can't forget the authentic handcrafted slices that are baked with love in Lafayette's own Bread & Circus Provisions.

You see; I was born in the 80's. My generation rode the wave of the pizza revolution.

30 Minutes or Less
TMNT
The advent of the stuffed crust pizza

We gave those to the world.


It should not have been a surprise to me that there were so many pizza joints in New Orleans. After all, with its rich and diverse cultural and culinary backgrounds, New Orleans is a true melting pot of every imaginable heritage.

When you think "Authentic Italian pizza cooked in a wood burning oven imported from Italy" your mind naturally gravitates to a James Beard Award wining chef from Israel...right?


So maybe that's not what you expected but that's one of the things that makes Pizza Domenica, the Uptown spin-off of Chef Alon Shaya's downtown Domenica, so creative, casual, fun and lively. The wide open kitchen connects you with the staff. Bright, white subway tiles draw your eyes to the rotating stone in the oven that evenly fires everything on the menu and gives it an unmistakable sooty, earthy flavor. Speaking of the menu; items at Pizza Domenica are more legendary than the '96 Bulls with Yelp reviews like:

"Life changing!"

And a lot of people telling you IN ALL CAPS WHAT THEY THINK YOU SHOULD ORDER.

I did what any self-respecting pizza snob would do and took a road trip with the sole intention of testing the internet lure of Pizza Domenica. The menu is packed with appetizers and bites but two were on our radar; the Garlic Knots served with a Provolone Fonduta and the Smoked Chicken Wings.

The Garlic Knots should only be avoided under one condition; your name is Vlad and you are from Transylvania. With a crisp and buttery crust and a chewy center, the herbaceous knots warm your finger tips and are perfectly complemented by the whipped provolone fonduta.



The fonduta, best described as the forbidden love child of whipped cream cheese and pungent curd is so soft and delicate that you'll be tempted to drink it through a straw. Your server will try to take the dish from your table. Don't let them. Guard the white gold with your life and use it as a dip for your pizza crust.



The Smoked Chicken Wings have a subtle heat to them. It's the smoke flavor that is the true star of the dish. Be it from the wood burning oven, the Calabrian chilies or from some secret marinade that we aren't privy to; there is a depth that comes through in every bite. The chicken is juicy and even the celery, an otherwise throwaway in the chicken wing world in my opinion, was savory and flavorful.


The pizza is the star of the show at Pizza Domenica. It's the headliner. The reason why you walk in the door. It's name is in lights and is the focus of everything that goes on in the kitchen. Chefs are constantly prepping fresh ingredients and the quality can be tasted in every slice. The pizza is thin at PD but it isn't cracker crisp and, much like the garlic knots, the pizza has a decent chew to it.

We opted for fairly classic flavors because why buck the system with something as time-honored as pizza. With three of us at the table, we decided on two pizzas; choosing to make one of them a half-and-half, a great option for a big table or if you're just wanting to try multiple pizzas.

Tutto Carne


Translating to "All Meat", the Tutto Carne is the best option for the classic pizza flavor. Don't pass this off as just a normal pizza, though. Rich with the flavors of Italy, the fennel rich sausage is paired with house-made tasso, salami, red sauce and mozzarella. It's a meat eater's feast to say the least and the flavors are addictive.


Margherita

Perhaps no pizza is steeped in as much history as the Margherita. Long story short. In 1889 Neapolitan pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito is commissioned to make a few pizzas for the visit of a Queen. Of the three he made, the one she loved the most was decorated with the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil) and white (mozzarella). Her name? Queen Margherita. All that to say that even though the Margherita is a simple pizza, the simplicity of its structure is what makes it so wonderful. It doesn't need fancy flavors to trick your palate. The fresh, real flavors remind you of days gone by and force you to slow down and savor each bite.

Prosciutto

Who needs Canadian Bacon when you have this Italian dry-cured ham at your disposal? The salty, slightly chilled prosciutto on the warm crust and sauce play a trick on your tongue. Topped with peppery arugula, each bite is light. You'll forget the fact that you are eating pizza. Which is a good thing. That way you can justify ordering dessert.

Half Prosciutto-Half Margherita
I can share with you countless gluttonous stories of gorging myself on bowl after bowl of cheap, boxed banana pudding. My affinity for the yellow goop is so notorious that relatives and even family friends often offer up dishes of the golden goodness, adorned with Nilla Wafers, as gifts or get-well offerings. The fresh bananas don't even get the chance to oxidize before I am polishing off the container and returning it to its rightful owner. But never in all my years of banana pudding eating have I EVER come across WARM banana pudding. The custard is just sweet enough to round out your meal and the warm bananas and slightly bruleed meringue make every bite smooth.



There are a lot of pizza joints out there. I've had my share of both crummy and amazing pizza. I can say that Pizza Domenica is a top-notch eatery that offers an amazing menu with traditional and experimental flavors. Maybe one day I'll travel to Italy to complete my pizza bucket list. But, until then, I always have the pies at Pizza Domenica.



1 comment:

  1. I have not tried Pizza Domenica yet but pizza is bae ! and i think after reading your article i cant keep myself away from trying this best Pizza place ! as i have heard about it on other pages too.

    ReplyDelete