Brooklyn is the real homeland of pizza. It presents the broadest array of models, fuels, and toppings, and in Brooklyn, one particular can even now be astonished by a pizza, as I not long ago was at the fairly grand-looking, but very little recognized, La Villa Pizzeria in Park Slope, where by I encountered a stuffed-crust pie from Abruzzo. Started in 2003 on Fifth Avenue, the place boasts an interior clad in smoky marble and deeply stained woods. Lush banquettes run along austere white walls, though what appears to be like table lamps with excellent spherical shades hang from the ceiling.
Despite a menu that manages to deal with all the bases of Italian-American cooking, from baked clams to baked pastas, pizzas continue being the throbbing coronary heart of the restaurant. Gleaming ovens run along the left aspect of the room as you enter, wherever pizzaioli massage balls of dough, poke their peels into the gaping maws of the wooden-burning ovens, and bend this way and that as they wrangle the pies.
La Villa’s pizza menu is expansive in actuality, it attempts to recreate nearly each variety of Brooklyn pizza possible. The menu features three models of crust: Neapolitan (referring to the NYC’s original spherical pies), Sicilian (thick-crusted and rectangular), and Metro (round pies with a tremendous-slender crust, as witnessed in present day Rome’s pizza tonda). These pies occur with a host of optional toppings.
Then there are 18 specialty pies, with idiosyncratic crusts and toppings. Obviously, there is a Naples-design margherita, a focaccia with broccoli rabe and sausage, and an upside-down Sicilian, the kind of Brooklyn pie favored at L&B Spumoni Gardens, in which the mozzarella goes on the base and the sauce on prime, to maintain the crust from receiving soggy. But running my eye down this record, I was arrested by the pizza identified as Romana (“Roman”).
It was a stuffed crust pie but not like the types at Domino’s. When it arrived at the desk, it was rectangular and had accomplished a gorgeous shade of brown on the prime crust, with a bottom crust two times as thick, nicely charred underneath in this article and there. The pie was sealed on the sides, boxing the components, and when slice into 10 sq. pieces, the cheese seductively oozed out.
The pie was more stuffed with fennel sausage, pepperoni, and sliced, nicely-oiled potatoes. Wielding a huge spatula, a waiter ceremoniously served just one slice each and every to my guest and me, as we sat at 1 of the breezy sidewalk tables, as tendrils of cheese stretched from pie to plate. This Romana was 1 of the greatest pizzas I’d at any time tasted, creamy, gooey, meaty, and smoky, with the top crust crunchy and the base crust chewy. But in which did this wonderful pie (tiny $16, substantial $27) arrive from, I wondered, given that I’d by no means encountered just about anything very like it.
A single likelihood that occurred to me was that it originated in Abruzzo, an isolated location on the Adriatic just throughout the towering Apennine Mountains from Rome. There, a double-crust pie termed pizza rustica originated, possibly encouraged by an historical Roman pie, according to John Mariani in the Dictionary of Italian Food items & Drink (1998). The pie he describes is stuffed with ricotta, mozzarella, prosciutto, and mortadella, and it struck me as excellent that pepperoni, a specifically Italian-American meat, experienced been substituted in the current variation. The potatoes seemed like they could be a distinctively American touch, way too.
Journalist Waverly Root also wrote about the pizza rustica in his exhaustive Food of Italy (1971), describing it as “a meat-and-cheese pie of significant complexity.” The edition he described right after dwelling several many years in Italy as correspondent for the Washington Publish and Chicago Tribune showcased chopped ham, sausage, 3 varieties of cheese, and boiled egg yolks in a crust created from a marginally sweet dough flavored with nutmeg, and egg-brushed on top to make it gleam.
Park Slope’s La Villa, which I’m persuaded is 1 of the best pizzerias in the town, is the descendant of a pair of significantly older Brooklyn pizzerias with the exact name. The initially opened in Mill Basin in 1982, and the 2nd in Howard Seaside 10 several years afterwards — equally from the exact relatives whose patriarch, Louis “Gino” Branchinelli, experienced 1st opened a pizzeria in Bay Ridge in 1955. The latest Park Slope area beneath co-owner Alfredo Di Scipio stays incredibly much an extended-loved ones affair.
I asked Di Scipio in an electronic mail trade if my suspicion about the origin of the Romana was proper. “It’s funny that you say Abruzzo, my father is from a small medieval town called Crecchio, province of Chieti in Abruzzo. Pizza rustica as you know modifications a great deal region to region….The stuffed pizza we make does have some pizza rustica foundation but it also exhibits its Abruzzese roots from the potatoes and sausage.” So considerably for potatoes currently being an American addition.
The pie was so big that my visitor and I took some home, and it was just as superior cold out of the fridge the up coming early morning. How amazing, I assumed, as I chewed each mouth watering chunk, that the culinary influences from a remote mountainous area of Italy were continue to quite a great deal alive in Brooklyn.