Iím in Calgary for the week, so of course Iím looking for pizza. Last night I tried Pulcinella Authentic Neapolitan Pizza. Most of the pizza and wine was reasonably priced though I donít remember ever seeing a $30 pizza on a menu elsewhere Ė the tartufo with fontina cheese, mozzarella, parmigiano, shaved black truffles and topped with an egg yolk. That sounded good as did many of the other pies on the menu, however I ordered the Margherita.
The dough looked fairly well hydrated. Iíd guess mid-60%. The use regular dough trays and cut the balls out with a spatula the way most places do. There were three guys making pies at different times (all three also worked in the kitchen at one point or another during the night Ė they seemed to go back and forth as needed). All of them were very deliberate about making the ball round before opening it. They would start off opening the ball somewhat gently but would quickly progress into an all-out assault on it. They beat and slapped the poor thing like it owed them money. One of the guys had a unique style where he would kind of press it out in a donut shape with a big lump of dough left in the center then slap the heck out of the lump. They all had pretty impressive dexterity with the stretch and slap maneuver. The cornice was absolutely flat by the time they were done working it over, and the finished pies were as you would expect Ė flat as a pancake.
My pie timed in at 1:45. About the last 0:45 was doming. Mine was cooked by itself. They had a interesting way of baking multiple pies that I had not seen before. Say they were baking four pies, they would put two into the oven about two pies deep. They would place the next two right behind them Ė basically right at the door. They would give a quick 0:45 or so bake with a couple turns on the two in the farthest then pull them COMPLETELY out of the oven and set them on the landing on either side of the door. The would then move the next two in, one at a time, turning, baking and doming until it was done. They would then repeat the same with the two on the landing. It would take about seven minutes to bake four pies this way. I canít imagine that what amounts to par-cooking the pie and then finishing it a couple minutes later has a positive effect on the overall quality. I didnít try a pie baked like this, so I canít say for sure.
The oven itself was HUGE. One of the biggest Iíve seen, which makes it all the more strange how they bake multiple pies. They could easily have fit all four or seven or eight into the oven at once. The construction was also unlike anything Iíve seen before. It looks like it was built on location. It appears to have been built with really big bricks (2-3X as big as regular fire bricks) with tons of mortar in-between. The door was also an interesting ďmissionĒ shape. Sorry about the bad cell phone pic. I forgot my camera.
Another thing I found interesting is how many people ordered pies with what looked to be plain old ham or ham and mushrooms. I think I saw a total of 5 Margheritas go out the whole time I was there Ė mine and four in one to-go order.
Notwithstanding the cornice abuse and resulting flatness, the crust was fairly tender albeit without a whole lot of flavor. The charring on the undercarrage was OK - maybe a little heavy but acceptable. The sauce was tasty and well balanced, and I have no complaints with the cheese. Overall the pie was just OK which is too bad. I think with a little effort, it could have been pretty good. Iíd probably go back.