Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Tale of Two Pizzerias

There is something so romantically suggestive about pizza: the sweet but acidic bite of the tomatoes, the way stringy mozzarella makes your lips play with it, the slow but determined pleasure derived from waiting to reach the chewy crust of a good pizza.

I'm not the only who thinks this (PG-13) way. Yesterday, upon walking by the new pizza-making-man at work and admiring the uniformity and perfection of his calzones, I complimented him on his good work; I've noticed the attention he lovingly puts into his work. He grinned, beckoned me closer, and as we admired the glistening plumpness of the formed dough, he said "listen, I know they're beautiful.. they look like breast implants." Not the most poetic elucidation, but a variation on the same theme.

The top 100 features two pizza restaurants: Two Amy's, an institution on Wisconsin, has been heralded as having the best pizza in town. Pete's New Haven Style Apizza, with three locations in Clarendon, Friendship Heights, and Columbia Heights, has also been lauded for its pies and gritty original location (we opted for the yuppie location, vice the ones in the gentrifying or mostly-under-24 years-old neighborhoods).

So which one was better? Unscientifically, Two Amy's: it was irresistible, with an admirably soupy combination of melted cheese, barely-there crust, and a thin enough layer of sauce to not overwhelm the other ingredients. The pizza we ordered at Two Amy's also has the designation of being D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), just like proprietary French wines that meet certain standards from the region from which they hail. Most importantly, it was prettier.

Pete's APizza featured good ingredients and clever combinations of them on pizza, but was greasier and less.. Italian, with the entire surface covered in cheese and toppings.

Where Pete's excelled in the Amy-esque regard of proportion was with its Sorbillo, a calzone-esque "pizza turnover" stuffed with sopressata, ricotta, mozzarella, as well as with its antipasti plate, which was a smattering of miscellany including a roasted squash salad with pomegranates, potato salad, roasted beets with goat cheese, and a wheatberry salad with sweet and savory things:

What both did well were fry things and stuff cheese in them, with Pete's more keen on presentation and Two Amy's leaning toward substantively and overwhelmingly-sized. At Pete's, we had arancini, fried risotto balls on a bed of pesto.

Pete's threw down our fried things on simple plates, fried things that belied the glories within. On the left plate, we had potato and prosciutto croquettes, warm and salty and splashed with bits of prosciutto. On the right plate, we had suppli a telefono, risotto balls as well, with a generously-stuffed center of cheese. The cheese strings and contorts and quivers like telephone wires, from which it gets its name. I couldn't focus long enough to photograph it, but caught a croquette. Ciao bella!

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