Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Rule of Thumb…

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.
La Piazza al Forno is located in the town of Glendale, and according to Michele Laudig: “The City of Glendale may grab attention for its big retail developments and…(the Arizona) Cardinals’ stadium, but…the most appealing part is that it doesn’t feel like a city at all. Instead, it’s got the close-knit charm of Main Street U.S.A….
"I’m talking about the stretch of Glendale Avenue that goes right through downtown… Hands down, one of the highlights of this appealing little oasis is La Piazza al Forno… The folks who live in this particular ‘hood are lucky, indeed.”
“The ‘Piazza’ in this family-restaurant's name is pizza-master Justin Piazza, a man who has single-handedly put Glendale on the Valley pizza map…. And Piazza is even more big time: His pizza has received a certificate of authenticity from Verace Pizza Napoletana, an Italian trade association that promotes Naples' strict traditional pizza standards. (Only two other Arizona pizzerias qualify.)” ( ”Piazza grew up in the restaurant world. His dad, Dennis (who also works in the kitchen here) used to own Amici's, at 43rd Avenue and Olive, and some restaurants in New Jersey where the family used to live…” (Michele Laudig at
At the time that the DDD episode was filmed, La Piazza hadn’t received the coveted VPN designation. “What does the VPN's stamp of approval mean? It means you're going to get a real-deal Neapolitan pizza, ultra-thin, with about a 12-inch diameter, made with premium ‘OO’ flour, fresh mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes, fired for about 90 seconds in a superhot, wood-burning oven” (

“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….’
“Criteria VPN judged on included: a wood-burning oven firing at 900 degrees or higher, the freshest and highest quality ingredients. Just how fresh? Justin and his family make their own mozzarella cheese every morning with fresh cow or buffalo milk. They also only use San Marzano tomatoes and 00 flour, both imported from Italy. The 00 means that the flour has been milled twice to ensure it is as soft and light as possible. The extra cost of imported ingredients is a given, but worth it. You taste it immediately in the food. The sauce is sweet, and tangy and the fresh basil's aroma and taste compliments the sauce. The pizza's dough and crust is airy and soft.
“…Even the oven was constructed in and imported from Italy. Piazza said a third-generation master builder constructed the wood-burning oven in Naples. He even personalized the creation by installing tiny golden tiles that spell out the family's name "Piazza" across the top.
"The inside of the oven is made from bricks from Mt. Vesuvius' volcanic ash, which is why it can withstand the inferno temperature produced from the wood-burning oven” (Kathryn Stafford at

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).
If you are going to judge a VPN pizzeria, this is the pizza to start with since it has no distracting embellishment. You want to judge the thinness of the crust and taste the light char that comes from the high heat oven.
You want to taste the brightness of the sauce—tomatoes and salt and nothing else. And you want to judge the dairy richness of the fresh mozzarella. The Margherita at La Piazza al Forno gets an A+ on all counts.

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.

You tasted salt from the ham and cheese, pepper from the arugula, sweet from the mozzarella, and tang from the tomatoes. And all of these blend harmoniously together.

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.


eyad ammar said...

شركة نقل عفش بالدمام الشرق الاوسط متحصصه فى نقل عفش واثاث بالدمام ونقل العفش بالخبر كما انها توفر شركة نقل عفش بالجبيل والخبر وشركة نقل عفش بالقطيف والاحساء وجميع خدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة الشرقية بارخص اسعار نقل عفش بالدمام وتقدم ايضا شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام والخبر
نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
شركة نقل اثاث بالخبر
شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
شركة نقل عفش بالقطيف
شركة نقل اثاث بالاحساء

eyad ammar said...

شركة نقل عفش الجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالدمام
شركة نقل اثاث بالجبيل
شركة نقل عفش بالخبر
شركات النقل البري بالدمام
شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
ارقام شركات نقل العفش بالدمام
ارخص شركة نقل اثاث بالدمام
شركة تخزين عفش بالدمام

eyad ammar said...

شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة وشقق بالمدينة المنورة شركة غسيل خزانات ومكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة
شركة تنظيف خزانات بالمدينة المنورة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة مؤسسة صفوة المدينة انها الاولى فى مكافحة ورش الحشرات بالمدينة المنورة رش البق رش الصراصير مكافحة النمل الابيض بالمدينة المنورة
شركة مكافحة حشرات بالمدينة المنورة