Here’s a shot of a Neapolitan prosciutto-arugula pizza, from Il Pizzaiolo, a restaurant located in Mount Lebanon, a southern suburb of Pittsburgh. One of only a handful of US pizzerias certified as authentic by the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association, Il Pizzaiolo adheres to strict guidelines for making what all travelers to Napoli know and love.
Note how this humble, small town restaurant turned out not one, not two, but three perfect pizzas, moments after we ordered. With a crust tossed to perfect thinness, a light and tasty marzano tomato base, homemade mozzarella cheese, and prosciutto di parma, these pizzas aim to please. Buonissime! Note, again, the crispy edges and small bubbles of charred crust. Note also the undressed arugula, unfortunately just past its peak of freshness (well, this IS Pittsburgh after all, whose markets for arugula are nowhere near the size of Philly’s.) For seventeen bucks a pop in a restaurant staffed with summer help and a twenty-something pizzaiolo, there’s really no mystery in Pittsburgh. They’ve figured it out.
What remains puzzling, however, is the fact that Vetri’s chefs de cuisine at Osteria can’t muster the skill to create what appears on every authentic Italian pizzeria’s menu. Pazienza! To learn more about pizza vera, check out: World’s Best Pizza and Slice’s pizza glossary.
Here are a few of my longtime friends, smiling after our evening of great food and conversation. I miss them already!