We all know that you can’t really get a great pizza in the Triangle and Raleigh in particular. You can get a decent one, but nothing like the great New York establishments like Patsy’s or Grimaldi’s, with their ultra-hot coal burning ovens. When I took my family to Grimaldi’s last year, the six of us at five large pies. Were we that gluttonous? Not really. Those pizzas (pizze?) were amazing, with limited amounts of toppings and sauce and a heavenly crust — light, a bit of spring, and charred a bit on the bottom. This is a very light pizza, and we don’t have anything like it around these parts.
Now I could just deal with the reality that I’ll have to eat pretty crummy pizza wherever I go in Raleigh, or I could go the extreme route and cut off the cleaning-cycle lock on my oven to cook my own pies at super-high temperatures like this guy. A friend of mine in Durham did this, and his pizza is clearly the best I’ve had in the Triangle. I need to get invited back! Or I could just change the way I order my pizza at places where they do a decent job.
Take Piccola Italia in Raleigh’s Cameron Village, for example. Their crust has the right flavor profile for me — not sweet like the abominable crust at Lilly’s. Piccola Italia’s sauce is not sweet, either (and why do people like sweet sauces??). But they put too much sauce on it, and too much cheese, too. They also don’t bake their pizzas long enough, so the cheese doesn’t even begin to brown and the bottom of the crust is far too pale.
So take my advice and order a pizza as follows: light on the sauce, light on the cheese, well done. The folks at Piccola Italia know what that means, and if you have to educate other places, do it.
Less toppings makes for a lighter pie, one where the crust has a more prominent role. The bottom should be slightly charred, further enhancing the flavor profile. It also helps the cooking process, with soggy pizzas a thing of the past. In the end, you might not get as filled up, but you’ll enjoy your pizza even more. It might not be Brooklyn, but it ain’t bad for Raleigh.