Tuesday, October 30, 2012

"’This is a Landmark in Paradise Valley,"

…he said. "Can you imagine the travesty of tearing down a landmark?" (azcentral.com). The speaker was Paul Greenwald, co-owner of a furniture store in the Borgata in Scottsdale. This “upscale shopping landmark on the border of Scottsdale and Paradise Valley, has been sold to a local homebuilder with plans to redevelop the site into a luxury condominium community” (azcentral.com).

“The Borgata is designed to feel like the Tuscan Village of San Gimignano complete with cobblestone walkways, fountains and an open-air setting. The shops are upscale/expensive” (phoenix.about.com).

The complex is arranged around a central courtyard, and we, along with Evie, Bev, Jeanie, and sometimes Raina, have spent some very pleasant Friday afternoons sitting in the courtyard, listening to music, perusing the farmers market stands, and generally just chillin’. Those afternoons will be no more..

But the Borgata is also home to our favorite pizzeria in the Phoenix area—Pomo Pizzeria Napoletana. As described on their website, Pomo
“creates the truly authentic pizza experience utilizing the same simple methods that were practiced for hundreds of years in Napoli, Italy, where pizza was born and perfected. Pomo’s Pizza is produced according to the Neapolitan tradition where each pizza is a unique piece of art.

“At ‘Pomo Pizzeria we combine the slow levitation method to produce our home-made dough, all natural ingredients, and the Blast-Cooking process of our wood burning oven to lock in flavors, natural aroma and moisture….Two Italian Pizzaiuolo Masters make our genuine Neapolitan pizza dough….Our pizza is made from slow-rising sourdough with a minimum of 24 hours in the rising process. The dough is then formed by hand and is no more than 3mm thick….The pizza is baked for 60–90 seconds at 500° C (950° F) in our wood-burning brick oven, with hand made bricks from Santa Maria, pressed bricks from Salerno named Turf Stones, in a “Biscotto” oven from Sorrento, and Vesuvius volcanic sand imported from Napoli. This 6000-pound oven was built in Napoli by a 3rd generation craftsman pizza builder and shipped across the Atlantic Ocean to create our oak and pecan-wood fire” (pomopizzeria.com).

Now this may seem to be “much ado about nothing,” but to die-hard pizza aficionados like us, it results in the perfect pizza. So where will we go on future metro-Phoenix visits? Well, we learned from our server that the owner plans to reopen somewhere within a mile of so of this location.
While they probably won’t be able to salvage the giant mural of (what I presume is) a street scene in Naples with the dominating figure of a buxom woman riding a scooter, the oven will be making the journey to the new location, and we suggested that they make a street parade of the oven’s trip to its new home.

We started with my favorite pizza—the classic Regina Magherita. “In June 1889, to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito created the ‘Pizza Margherita’, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag” (pomopizzeria.com).
The standard ingredients are tomatoes San Marzano, Fior di Latte (fresh cow’s milk mozzarella), Parmigiano Reggiano, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil. But we asked that the pizza come without the parmigiano.

Our second pizza was the Delicata with fior di latte, bresaola cured beef, fresh arugula, shaved parmigiano reggiano, and basil. Again we asked for an alteration—the substitution of prosciutto for the bresaola.

Both were delicious and both had plenty of the black crust “bubbles” that help to define a true VPN pizza cooked in a wood-fired brick oven. But of the two, the Magherita was my favorite. There is something about the pure flavor of crushed tomatoes that need no real embellishment contrasted with the creamy fresh cheese that makes me believe that we are in Italy.

One nice touch was the bottle of red pepper flake infused olive oil on the table. Once you got to the outer crust, you could pour some of this oil on your plate and dip the crust into it. Wonderful.

We finished by sharing a slice of Torta Nutella, a flour-less chocolate cake with Nutella cream mousse, and chocolate ganache.
“Nutella…is a combination of roasted hazelnuts, skim milk, and cocoa with a creamy consistency and a chocolate taste with a hint of roasted nut flavor. Nutella is to Italians what peanut butter is to Americans…. In Germany, Nutella is a favorite breakfast spread, and in both Italy and France it is a popular after-school snack. Worldwide, it outsells all peanut butter brands combined. Nearly three generations of Europeans have grown up eating Nutella, which was created in the 1940's by Pietro Ferrero, a pastry maker and founder of the Ferrero Company.

“During the 1940's, cocoa was in short supply due to war rationing, and chocolate was a considered a real delicacy. So Pietro Ferrero decided to mix cocoa with toasted hazelnuts, cocoa butter, and vegetable oils to create an economical chocolate spread, which he called ‘pasta gianduja.’ It was an immediate success…. In 1949, Ferrero made a ‘supercrema gianduja’ which was more creamy and spreadable. This product became so popular that Italian food stores started a service called ‘The Smearing.’ Children could go to their local store with a slice of bread for a ‘smear’ of the chocolate spread…” (mangiabenepasta.com).

I’ll bet that was more than you ever cared to know about Nutella. Come on. Admit it.

Pomo serves what is our third favorite pizza behind—in second—Settebello (Salt Lake City)—and first—Ancora (New Orleans). But it is certainly good enough to merit 4.5 Addies.

To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.

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