Advertisement

The Gossiping Gourmet: Margherita fit for a queen

December 12, 2012|By Elle Harrow and Terry Markowitz

These days, when we are jonesing for pizza, we are confronted with a vast array of choices even before we think about toppings. Are you in the mood for thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust, cracker crust, deep dish or even flat bread?

The oldest and simplest style of pizza is Neapolitan. The dough is made with nothing but flour, water, salt and yeast, and the simplest version is the Margherita, created in 1889 and named after Margherita, the then-queen of Italy. It consists of red tomato, green basil and white mozzarella, all meant to mimic the colors of the Italian flag. You will find this pie (the true test of good pizza) at NEApolitan, which recently opened in South Laguna.

The old Café Vienna has changed nationalities and been transformed into a modern pizzeria with delicious small plates, excellent Neapolitan-style pizzas, and desserts. The centerpiece is a bright red, state-of-the-art, Stefano Ferrara wood-burning brick oven, shipped directly from Naples.

Advertisement

You can have a lovely meal here without ever tasting their pizza, but as you look at the beautiful pies on neighboring tables with their puffy, blistered crusts, you might be hard-pressed to resist.

We started with two of their small plates and were really blown away. There is some serious cooking going on here. Chef Frank DeLoach does a riff on roasted octopus with the addition of richness from green Castelvetrano olives, saltiness from capers and finely cut strips of lardo (a type of salume), and a bright sweetness from a splash of orange juice and tiny wedges of orange. All this combines with charred rounds of octopus and waxy baby Dutch potatoes to make an outstanding version of a classic dish.

However, chicken wings were far from classic. Buffalo has been left behind and replaced by Sicily. These nicely roasted Jidori wings are strictly Southern Italy, with their rosemary and Calabrian chili flavors. These juicy flappers are smothered with delicious, sweet caramelized onions. They come in a generous heap and fly right off the table.

There is a daily selection of salumi and formaggio, two salads and several other tempting small plates. Anxious to get on to the pizza, we skipped both the hangar steak with salsa verde and fennel béarnaise and the veal meatballs.

Instead, we chose to sample veal meatballs on the NEA pizza.

Huntington Beach Independent Articles Huntington Beach Independent Articles
|
|
|