for visiting the Phoenix-metro area—expect it to take forty-five minutes (at least) to get anywhere.
On our previous trips, we stayed at an RV park north of the city and just off I-17. This time we have located ourselves in what is called the West Valley and are just off I-10. So it is convenient this time to visit a pizzeria (Yes, another blog about pizza.) that we had seen years ago on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives—La Piazza al Forno.
“The prestigious VPN certification is hard to come by. Fewer than 50 pizzerias in the U.S have been certified. VPN inspectors examined La Piazza al Forno to see if pizza-maker…Justin Piazza was meeting the strict guidelines in order to be certified…. ‘It was a very humbling, but educational, experience…. To be able to be around someone that has a wealth of knowledge like that is really cool….’
The menu includes a small number of pastas and salads plus appetizers like Antipasto Di Angelo (proscuitto di Parma, salami, gaeta olives, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and roasted peppers), fried calamari, stuffed shrimp, fried ravioli, and Mussels and Calamari Fra Diavalo (mussels and calamari sautéed in a spicy red sauce).
But we were there for VPN pizza and the menu included: Filetti D.O.C. (house made mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, imported pomodorini tomatoes, garlic, basil); Italian Stallion (San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P., house made mozzarella, Schreiners sausage, pepperoni, prosciutto di Parma [cotto or cooked], and sopressata); Bianca (house made mozzarella, ricotta, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and basil); and Dolce Diavolo (San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P., house made mozzarella , sopressata , Calabrian chiles, basil and honey). (D.O.C. is an abbreviation for Denominazione di Origine Controllata or controlled designation of origin and is a quality assurance label for Italian food products. D.O.P. [Denominazione di Origine Protetta] means protected designation of origin.)
We started with the classic Regina Margherita D.O.C. (San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P., mozzarella di bufala, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil).
We had asked our server if the pizzamaker could wait until we had finished the Margherita before firing our second pizza, and this proved to be no problem. So our second pizza (think of it as dessert) arrived hot and bubbly. This was the Salvatore with San Marzano tomatoes D.O.P., house made mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Prosciutto di Parma (crudo) to which we added arugula.
I can remember talking with Jeff—co-owner and head pizza maker at Ancora in New Orleans—and he said something to the effect that to appreciate this style of pizza you needed to forget everything you learned about pizza as a kid.
As is written on the La Piazza al Forno’s website, pizza is a “word that is known all over the world, from Phoenix to New York City, from Europe to Asia. It is a word used to describe many different products. Anything from deep dish, to cracker crust, to stuffed crust, or whatever you prefer—it's all there. However, the meaning of the word ‘Pizza’ has been misunderstood over the years. ‘Pizza’ only means one thing. It is Neapolitan…”
And in this case, La Piazza al Forno pizza means 5.0 Addies.
To review the role of Adler, Kitty Humbug, and the Addie rating system, read the November 14, 2011 blog.