Sunday, February 17, 2013

Via Tribunali: The Calzone that brought down NYC pizza forever!

Marinated olives, Piazza Dante, and a wood burning oven.
So pizza is not exactly my jam.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I live in New York City and our pizza is the best... blah blah blah.  NYC pizza is just okay.  It's not better than any other city's pizza, it's just bigger, flatter, and greasier.  I like real pizza.  Pizza that has the dirt of San Marzano tomatoes on it.  Pizza that has cheeses like grana padano, provlone, and mozzarella di bufala.  Pizza that talks with it's hands and and has the sweat of a Pisan on it, with his muscles rippling and glistening in the light of a wood fired oven as he shovels that pizza in and out and in and... oh wait, what were we talking about?  Oh yeah, pizza.

Luckily, I live across the street from one of the best Neapolitan pizza places in the city.  Yeah, I know, true story!  Via Tribunali's pizza is like crack - I can't get enough of it and I jones for it.  Whenever my friend Shannon comes to town, the first thing she does is demand good pizza (she's very pushy like that).  The small Georgia town she comes from greatly lacks in this area (I can attest to this because I lived there for 5 years and I never had good pizza).  Well, I think after having her visit twice a year for 5 years, we have finally found a place to satisfy her pizza palate, as we ate here twice in one week, and with no complaints from me.  
Calzone Vesuvio, Specialita' della Casa!
This place is tiny.  I mean, really tiny.  It's about as big as my living room and most of that is taken up by the gorgeous wood fire oven they have in the back.  The tables are ridiculously small, especially considering your putting a pizza on it.  The chairs are like little torture devices after 20 minutes and the service can be pretty slow.  But you know what?  I don't care, because this pizza is that friggin' good!  

The first time we went we started with their marinated olives.   Anyone who knows me knows that I am an olive freak.  These are awesome - lemony, garlicy, olivey, heavenly and a nice pairing with their house wine.  On our waiter's recommendation, we ordered the Piazza Dante (pomodoro, provola, prosciutto di parma, arugula, cherry tomato), it was delicious!  Their dough is perfectly chewy, light, and a little smoky from the wood fire.  The tomato sauce (pomodoro) is clean and simple.  This had a great balance of warm cheesy pizza with the freshness of a tomato and arugula salad on top with some salty prosciutto.  It's no wonder it's a house favorite.  

Mezza Luna Nutella
But then, there was the Calzone Vesuvio... there's no coming back from this one.  I've never seen anything like this.  This is not your doughy, folded over calzone... oh no.  This a pizza with a thin layer of pizza dough over it that puffs up like a volcano while it bakes.  Cut it open and inside is a delicate feast of pomodoro, fior di latte, ricotta, prosciutto cotto, roasted mushrooms, and fresh basil.  It's not too heavy, but it has this amazing richness to it that makes your eyes roll back into your head.  It was perfection.

On our second trip, we decided to start with a couple of salads and lighten it up (I am a fan of the house salad with the Italian tuna and Shannon went with the Caesar - which was excellent) and then go right into the Calzone Vesuvio.  There was no question in our mind that this calzone needed to happen again.  However, we also decided to save room for their house dessert, a nutella calzone.  People from the table next to us were salivating and making comments to us how amazing this looked.  And you know what? It tasted even better than it looked.

This place is too easy for me.  It's steps from my apartment, and on a cold, rainy or snowy night when I don't want to cook or go very far, this is my home away from home.  It's pizza at it's finest and comfort food to boot.  Plus they have a slammin' happy hour - $5 pizzas and $8 for a half craft of house wine.  Can you blame me for going??  Hmm... maybe I'll stop in tonight.

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