I was telling John how if I could measure my excitement over Neapolitan pizza on a scale of 1 to 10, prior to the NY trip, I was a 1 (the place I had gone to was soupy, and had too much char), but after the trip, I was more like a 6, maybe a 7. I'm more than halfway there, although, it's important to remember that I'm not mad as a hatter about Neapolitan-yet
It's interesting, NY style is so incredibly crust centric. The toppings and the cheese are generally pretty static, while the crust varies tremendously from place to place. Neapolitan crusts, on the other hand, are extremely similar to each other- at least from the perspective I have now. I enjoyed the less salt, slightly better oven spring and less char at Motorino, but we're not talking about a significantly different crust than Keste, or, for that matter, Paulie Gees. I guess, as you get more into Neapolitan pizza, these crust nuances take on far greater importance, but, for me, where I am on my journey, it's the toppings that send my heart soaring and haunt my dreams. It's the lard, the brussels sprouts and the spicy honey that get my blood pumping.
In this aspect, we really couldn't do Amano justice. It was only the four of us, and we knew we had a lot of pizza ahead, so we couldn't get a wide variety of pizzas and taste all the topping combinations they had to offer. I think we also might have shot ourselves in the foot a bit by ordering a margherita. I'm not pointing fingers- I was fully on board with the decision, but, after pondering it a bit, I think I'm going to take a page out of the Paulie Gee handbook and stop ordering margherita pizzas. One can just as easily get a sense of a pizzeria's dough by ordering one of their more uniquely topped pies.
The broccoli rabe and sausage pie was very good. I don't think it's going to haunt my dreams, but it was still a very good showing. The crust is very on par with Keste, which comes as no surprise, since Roberto helped found the place. This is one of the pies made without cherry tomatoes. Larry made reference to the potential moisture issue that cherry tomatoes introduce when we placed our order. Based upon my own experience with fresh tomatoes, if I went back, I might ask that they be omitted. I do know, when I do return (and I will), that I'm going back with a larger group of people so that we can taste a greater variety of pizzas, and I'm also going to fight tooth and nail to avoid ordering the margherita. Be prepared
Carlo, the owner, was very kind and gracious. I think it's obvious that he's from the same educator/ambassador school as Roberto. For Carlo to offer Larry the opportunity to come in and stretch skins (in a production setting), it shows an unbelievable commitment to the craft.