Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pizzeria Sorbillo

Two pizzerias in one day. Ahh, quite a good day, and surprisingly I restrained myself enough that I don't feel stuffed or as if I've overeaten. Perhaps that speaks to the quality of the ingredients or it could be my relaxed state of mind or I simply have eaten less. I'm not sure, but it feels good.
Sorbillo was a lot different than da Michele. The decor was more refined and there was a lot of staff roaming the restaurant. The menu was expansive, with about 20 pizza options (ten-fold as many as da Michele). In these ways, it was surprising that they are compared so often.
I decided to branch out a bit and ordered, not a margharita, but their Raimondo (mozz, cherry tomato, prosciutto crudo, and arugula) and a local wine (IGT aglianico). Aglianico is grown most widely in Campania (the province that Napoli is in). The wine is very acidic and has lots of tannins. Its not for the timid wine drinker. One thing I enjoy about Italian restaurants is that they offer 1/2 bottles... and they are typically very low in price. I find a bottle is way too much to drink but one glass is not enough. Ordering two glasses is typically more in price than 1/2 bottle, and about equivalent in volume. So, the half bottle is a good medium.
The Raimento at Sorbillo
Anyway... the wine and pizza was ordered and so I took in my surroundings. The place was nicely decorated but almost too sterile. Perhaps that was the cleaner-odor that was emanating from the restroom downstairs... either way, it didn't add to the experience. The oven was also pristine looking, as if it just rolled out of a factory. Sorbillo was also closed when I came in and opened at 7 PM. So, it seemed to me that they didn't just flow with the day, but set themselves up for a lunch rush and a dinner rush, which I believe is different at da Michele. OK, enough with the bashing. The staff was awesome and very responsive (and single?... yes, that crossed my mind)... and the pizza.
Yes, another great pizza. Again, uncut and about 14". Not as wet as the other pies I've had, but that was likely due to the toppings (i.e. cherry tomato rather than tomato sauce). I enjoyed seeing a little more green on my pie and the arugula was nice and peppery. The prosciutto was smoky and better than most I've had in Flagstaff. The mozz was not melted all the way through, however. The crust was excellent, but not as impressive as da Michele. The crust needed a bit more work to cut, and at Sorbillo, I was given a serraded knife (at da Michele I was given your standard bread knife). The flavor was right on, nonetheless. Perhaps another 15 seconds in the oven would have elevated this pie to a higher level for me. This might have made the cheese melt and the crust cut easier. Also the leopard-pattern char was less on this pie. Personally, I think if they replaced the mozz with mascarpone, the pizza would have been much better because it would have added more moisture and a bit of a flavor contrast with the salty prosciutto.
Nonetheless, the pie was so good that I ate about 90% of it (wild, I know). Seated next to me, a small Asian woman took down a whole pie in about 10 minutes!! I was impressed.
One final note about eating pizza in Naples. I've observed that Neapolitans eat pizza both with fork-and-knife (typically how they start), but at both restaurants, the locals seem to abandon the utensils and get to their hereditary roots, using only their hands. But when that cave-man instinct kicks in, I've noticed they always fold their slice, much like a New Yorker. Maybe trivial, but kind-of interesting and maybe a reason to never tell anyone how to eat their pizza, just lettem' enjoy it.
Tomorrow I meet with Sr. Caputo himself (ancestor of the Caputo family). Caputo flour is ground very fine and made specifically for pizza. Its all I use.

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