a web-site devoted to the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, whose “mission is to promote and protect in Italy and worldwide the ‘true Neapolitan pizza’ (‘verace pizza napoletana’).... (It is) involved in the promotion and protection of the affiliated pizzerias and products related to the production filer of ‘true Neapolitan pizza’ and in the professionalization of pizza makers” (from the avpn web-site). And I was equally excited to find a VPN certified pizzeria, Vero Amore (true love), located in Tucson and that it had earned 4.0 and 4.5 stars out of five on my go to web-sites of tripadvisor.com, yelp.com, and urbanspoon.com. Since the weather the past couple of days has been less than ideal, what better way to spend the time than eating?
“Founded in March 2006, by brothers Aric and Joshua Mussman, Vero Amore is a dream realized. Their vision was to open a casual yet upscale restaurant that used the highest quality, healthiest and freshest ingredients…After discovering the ‘perfect pizza’, Josh and Aric signed up for training with world-renowned Neapolitan pizza expert Peppe Miele at the Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN) academy. Using a custom-built wood fired oven kept at 800 plus degrees, the brothers developed a wide range of authentic Neapolitan pizzas…using only the highest quality ingredients” (www.veroamorepizza.com).
Rita Connelly of the Tucson Weekly writes: “When Vero Amore opened its doors awhile back in a strip mall on the corner of Swan and Camp Lowell roads, much was made of the fact that the pizza there was different…the pie is baked in a wood oven…using 00 flour (finely ground), San Marzano plum tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, salt and yeast. The technique is also regulated: The dough is hand stretched using a marble slab. This is all supposed to result in a practically perfect pizza.”
One thing I’ve learned on our travels is that unless the restaurant sells pizza by the slice few people eat pizza for lunch. So again, the restaurant is near empty when we arrived and remained so for the duration of our meal.
While small, with seating for about thirty-six to forty, Vero Amore is attractively decorated with dark wood tables and chairs, soft-colored walls, pendant-style lighting, and modern prints.
The menu is not overly long and, in addition to pizza, contains a number of appetizers, salads, and pastas. We stayed with pizza and chose one Pizza Checca with chopped tomato, basil, homemade mozzarella, olive oil, and garlic (no sauce) and one Pizza Bianca al Prosciutto with homemade mozzarella, parmesan, prosciutto, and arugula.
If anything differentiates VPN pizza from, for example, New York style pizza, it is the ultra thin crust. The best measure is less than a quarter of an inch at the center and the outer rim is only slightly thicker. This very thin crust means that there cannot be an overabundance of toppings since the weight can’t be carried by this thin crust. Also, the high baking temperatures would turn the crust into a cinder before the toppings were cooked through. Yet, most VPN crusts can be identified by charred spots on the edges and the bottom. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it?
The crust at Vero Amore was the start of the pizzeria’s short-comings. The crust was too thick as evidenced by the “puffy” outer edges and it lacked the black burned spots that give a VPN pizza flavor. The Checca with its dark brown crust bubbles came the closest but what could have been a good pizza was ruined with the use of dried basil. If you are going to claim to uphold exacting standards, then you use only fresh basil and apply it when the pie exits the oven.
On the Pizza Bianca al Prosciutto, the ham had been sliced too thick
(it should be paper thin) and was baked in the brick oven with the crust. This served to make the prosciutto tough rather than “melt in the mouth” tender.
On both of the pies, the homemade mozzarella was of high quality—there was just too much of it. Yes, you can have too much homemade mozzarella.
To you reviewers on Yelp, Trip Advisor, and Urbanspoon, take yourselves to Salt Lake City and try a pizza at Settebello. Then you’ll know what true VPN pizza can be. Vero Amore’s is no better than a 3.0 Addie (star) pizzeria.