Saturday, August 20, 2005

Review: Pizzaiolo

Open Since: June 2005
Eaten There: 3 times

I was disappointed by my first visit. Beets in the Little Gems salad were overcooked (except when they were under cooked) and dressed haphazardly, like they forgot to put oil in the vinaigrette. Orecchiette with rapini and garlic was okay, but nothing a lot of people who eat there couldn't do better at home by starting with fresh pasta. A pizza with brandade and egg was good, but the crust was tough.

Second time around I went with a group of folks, and we were one half of the family table they have in back. We ordered pizzas to share and everyone ordered something as a starter.

Seemed to take a long time for the antipasti to arrive. But my carpaccio was great, perfect texture and temperature. A couple of people ordered poached shrimp - poached in water that had been used to blanch Kale. This didn't come through for me, and the shrimp were more cooked than I like.

Folks who ordered the polpette as starters got them along with the pizza instead. The meatballs were chock full of breadcrumbs and herbs and covered in red sauce. Didn't do much for me, but people seemed to like them. Pizza crust was certainly better this time, the sausage and greens pizza was particularly tasty, still chewy though.

Over the evening we had 3 bottles of wine from the list which has gotten more eclectic since opening (French, Spanish, and Californian bottles as well as Italian staples). During my most recent meal there, two of the 3 bottles we'd had and a few others we hadn't were off the list. The turn over is a mixed blessing. If you like something there's no guaruntee it'll be there when you get back, if not - try again next week.

It is tempting to compare the place with Dopo, and friends and co-workers certainly do. The prices are in every way comparable, usually people out front waiting to get in, and the menu has some similarities. But the vibe here is clearly different (bigger, louder, etc.) and the food seems less considered, even less sophisticated - not that this is necessarily bad.

Pizzaiolo takes good, occasionally even interesting, ingredients and deploys them in the service of what is essentially comfort food for people who dig food.

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