Friday, April 06, 2012

il Pizzaiuolo : Florence, Italy

One of the places that we had tried to go to on a Sunday and found closed was il Pizzaiuolo, a pizzeria/osteria, recommended by our host in Florence.   (Note for those wondering why we did not just check the website for the operating times, we were going sans internet.)

On that Sunday evening, the gate was shuttered.  The street was empty and dark: lifeless.

Tuesday afternoon at around 4pm, we stopped by to try to find out when they opened.  Promisingly, the gate was half open.  Unfortunately, there was no mention of the time they would open and no one around to ask.

Being a bit OCD, we stopped by a few more times, only to find the same teasingly half open gate.

Finally, we stopped by around 7:15pm to see the gate open and others waiting around and knew we were in business.  Hooray!

(Dear readers, I apologize.  Upon rereading, that's a dreadfully boring build-up leading to a climax of  absolutely nothing.  For those needing some sort of celebratory closure, watch this video.)

The area they make the pizzas in is open to the restaurant, so you can track your pizza being made in real-time.  (If anyone else obsessively refreshes their packages' delivery tracking online and likes good pizza, you'll love this place.)

The chefs obviously have a good deal of experience making the pizza's and it shows in how quickly they can prep the pizza.

I'm not sure if you can see it very well in the photo, but the brick oven is behind the chefs.  When each pizza is semi-close to being cooked, either to expedite the baking of the dough and/or to add some char, they  slide the long pizza peel under the pizza and bring the pizza right next to the fire (think the equivalent of s'mores).  Then in a fluid motion, they tilt and swivel the pizza peel, so that the pizza rotates on the peel and they can bring another side of the pizza close to the fire.  It's really quite mesmerizing and I wish I had had recorded it on video, but alas, you'll have to take my word that it had the grace of someone rowing a crew-boat, except that it miraculously spun a pizza 360 degrees for even cooking.

Anyways, we liked the pizza.  In fact, we came here twice to prove that it was not just our hunger speaking.

Caprecciola - artichoke hearts, prosciutto, olives, mozzarella, mushrooms.
Bottom crust is semi-thin and it sags and absorbs a bit of moisture with so many ingredients and the tomato sauce.  But the ingredients are solid - it seem like each bite would bring the flavor of a different ingredient.  It was interesting to see that there was no uniform layer of cheese over the pizza (like in the states), rather melted balls of mozzarella.

Calzone Napoletano - ricotta cheese, mozzarella, mushrooms, proscuitto.
It was interesting comparing the more rounded flavors of the pizza to the calzone, which had a much sharper flavor due to the ricotta cheese.

As I mentioned above, we came back the next day to try out another set of pizzas.

Margherita - Tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.
Simple, but still good.  Tomatoes very sweet.  Nicely executed

Bismark - Prosciutto, Mozarella and Egg.
I was kind of hoping for a fried egg, similar to what we had at Osteria in Philly.  But the egg had been spread throughout and when cooked, almost had a texture similar to that of a steamed egg.  Still good, but just not the oozy egg yolk we were hoping for.

I should note that with the crust being relatively thin and the fact that the pizzas are served piping hot, right out of the oven, this one is a no-brainer to eat inside the restaurant (vs anyone remotely considering takeout).

il Pizzaiuolo
Via de' Macci, 113, 50122 Firenze, Italy (Map)
+39 055 241171

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