Savor: Artful Pizza

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A Slice of Heaven

Crust is the canvas for these artful pizza makers.

By Ashley Breeding

 

Derived from the ancient Greeks who covered their bread in oils, herb and cheeses, pizza (Latin for “to press”) evolved into many forms throughout Western Europe, including Italy. During a visit to Naples, Queen Margherita of Italy was served a pizza reflecting the colors of the Italian flag—red tomato sauce, white mozzarella cheese and green basil. This Neapolitan delight, named the Pizza Margherita, has become a popular delicacy around the globe. Guests of the St. Regis won’t have to travel far, though, to enjoy this Italian treat, as many restaurants in the area prepare their own gourmet pies, made with fresh, hand-rolled dough and local, farm-fresh meats, cheeses and vegetables. Often gourmet pizzas are fired in a brick or wood oven, adding that extra crispiness and flavor—perfetto!

 

 Monarch Beach

Nestled in downtown Laguna Beach—just a short drive from the St. Regis—Romeo Cucina combines “ancient cooking skills with a modern touch of creativity and artistry.” If you can resist spoiling your appetite on the oven-baked garlic bread and olive oil appetizer and still have room for pizza, try the La Capricciosa, which is topped with tomatoes, basil, prosciutto, mushrooms, artichokes and mozzarella. Molto delizioso! (249 Broadway St.; 949-497-6627; romeocucina.com)

 

Aspen

Located in the heart of Aspen, Mezzaluna features modern Italian cuisine and mouthwatering wood-fired pizzas. The dough is baked fresh in- house every morning, and each pie is piled with fresh, natural ingredients, says owner and chef Deryk Cave. Try the basil pesto, made with Roma tomatoes, pine nuts, black olives and goat cheese (add chicken or shrimp), or the whole-wheat pizza, featuring garlic mascarpone cheese, spinach, smoked tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and drizzled with truffle oil. (624 E. Cooper Ave.; 970-925-5882; mezzalunaaspen.com)

 

Atlanta

Located just behind The St. Regis Atlanta, Fuoco di Napoli boasts “pizza fired with passion” in a friendly atmosphere. Each pie is made with handmade dough, ripe-picked tomatoes grown in the rich volcanic soil in the shadow of Mount Vesuvius, fresh mozzarella, herbs, garlic and sea salt, and is fired in a Neapolitan wood-burning dome oven at 900-plus degrees. Among the menu of delectable selections is the Regina Margherita—made with red sauce and fresh basil—and bursting with flavor. (30 Pharr Rd. NW; 404-781-0707; fuocodinapoli.com)

 

San Francisco
Located in Levi’s Plaza, Il Fornaio “Cucina Italiana e Panetteria” offers gourmet Italian cuisine in a chic and cozy setting downtown. “All of our thin crust, wood-fired pizzas feature house- made dough and mozzarella imported from Italy,” says Creative Director PaulKellerhals. Indulge in the Pizza Cristina, made with mushrooms, mozzarella, prosciutto, shaved Parmesan, wild arugula and drizzled with truffle oil. (1265 Battery St.; 415-986-0100; ilfornaio.com)

 

New York

Dine privately or feast with a family at one of the worn wooden communal tables at Emporio. The chefs recommend the Margherita pizza, made with San Marzano tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella—imported from Italy—and fresh basil, or the Prosciutto di Parma, robust with flavorful prosciutto, mozzarella, Grana Padano cheese, arugula and crushed black pepper. (231 Mott St.; 212-966-1234; emporiony.com)

 

Bal Harbour

You won’t have to wander outside The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort to savor some of the area’s most delicious pizzas, as one of the most sought-after pies is found right at the resort’s J&G Grill. The mouthwatering black truffle pie is made with hand-stretched dough and topped with truffles, fontina cheese and black truffle vinaigrette, and baked to perfection in a 600-degree pizza deck oven. (For reservations, call 305-993-3333.)

 

Houston

You know you’re in for a treat when a New Yorker says they’re “blissed out” over a slice of pizza, as the New York Times printed in a review of the Margherita pie at Houston’s Dolce Vita Pizzeria e Enoteca. Boasting rustic wood-fired pizza in a casually shabby-chic setting, the pizzeria serves sumptuous slices. Bite into the Vongole, made with clams, garlic, cherry tomatoes and mozzarella or the Robiola, layered with leeks, pancetta and you guessed it—robiola. And, like any good gourmet pizza place, you can also create your own. (500 Westheimer Rd., 713-520-8222; dolcevitahouston.com)