Saturday, April 25, 2009

Highlight #168: dough v. dough - Restaurant: Varasano

Wanna take a guess first which one came from Varasano and which from Fritti?

Dirty from Dirty South Wine did and he was half right. I say half because I sort of mixed things up. The first of the whole pies is from Varasano, while it is the second of the upskirt shots that is the result of V's hot oven.

So let's examine each of these shots closely, shall we? As mentioned above, the first shot is that of V's pie, specifically, it is that of his most popular Nana's. Quite attractive, I must say. There appears to be a very good balance of cheese to sauce and, of course, there are those seductive char marks on the rim. Judging from the irregular shape and the slightly thicker crust, the style is rustic.

In comparison, here is Fritti's pie. I apologize for not picking a simpler version that shows the crust more. This is our regular joint, so the husband gets to pick what he wants and he likes a good balance of veggie on his pie. Luckily, the fresh arugula is tossed on post baking, so doesn't really affect the moisture level in the crust. From what's shown, you can still see that the dough is pulled thinner and more evenly here. It's also less aggressively charred.

The underside shot of Fritti's pie confirms that the new (well not so new anymore) pizza man had solved the soggy bottom problem of old. The thin crust shows handsomely darkened bubbles from the brick oven. The taste benefits from the brick contact in that the dough is at the same time yielding and crunchy. While some have voiced that the sauce is a bit sweet here, I quite enjoy the mild flavor, which on our pie counters the bite of the arugula.

I had heard reports about V's pie being soggy at the center, but this shot shows that is also not a problem here anymore. Unlike Fritti's more evenly colored bottom, the V pie shows a splattering of charred spots. The crust also looks to have been fired at a higher temperature and seem somewhat drier than the Fritti pie's bottom. The taste matches the visual observations. The crust is indeed drier than that of Fritti's pie in a more chewy and stretchy way. While I of all people really enjoy a good chew, it was a bit too much as I had to pull the crust away from my mouth while biting down on it. The sauce is not at all sweet, but more assertively salty. I like salt, but also appreciate a little more sweetness for balance. The cheese is obviously of high quality, so there is no bone to pick there.

At the end of the day, pizza preference is a very personal thing. While both pies are what this city can be proud of, I am more partial to the softer dough and less aggressively fired version at my neighborhood place, Fritti.

1 comment:

Dirty said...

The bottom in both sets looks like Varasano's.