La Dolce Vita when you have the dough…
by Mick & Di Barker
Did you know that Pizza Margherita dates back to 1889? The story goes that the Napoletana pizzaioli, Raffaele Esposito, created it in honour of the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, which he garnished with red tomatoes, white mozzarella and vibrant green basil to represent the national colours of the Italian flag; thus making Naples the spiritual home of the pizza. There’s even a definitive booklet produced by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana which describes in precise detail what constitutes an authentic Napoletana pizzeria with edicts on acceptable toppings. Why am I telling you all this? Well, Jomtien now boasts it very own Napoletana pizzeria/trattoria and garden manned by a master pizza maker from Naples, Vincenzo and his charming wife Pookie, a trained pizzaiola herself.
Pizza Art is a meticulously authentic Napoli pizzeria, its pedigree wood-fired oven blasts out the blistering heat (1,000 degrees F.) to cook the pies in the requisite 60-90 seconds, and the high protein “OO” flour bestows the unmistakable flavour. In keeping with tradition, the dough is hand-kneaded, the sauce spooned on and spread into a thin layer and the other ingredients carefully placed atop and “Eccola!” the perfect Napoletana pizza.
The interior expounds on clean, uncomplicated lines with whimsical touches of faux railed balconies with a pair of socks and t-shirt comically hanging out to dry. There’s a lovely rear garden and bar landscaped with flowers and plants for a cool sojourn under the stars sipping one of their many cocktails, the “Sex and the City” Cosmopolitan, (vodka, Triple Sec and lemon juice) is a sensational mix at B.200.
The main focus of the menu is naturally pizza with 26 variety of toppings from the quintessential Margarita through ham and mushroom, seafood, salami, four seasons, bacon and so on. We tasted a traditional and much loved, Estiva pizza. All Napoletana pizzas are typically thin and soft with a pillowy crust which bubbles up due to the high temperature and is dotted with the requisite charring. Simple and delicious and topped with tomato sauce, creamy mozzarella and fresh rocket and basil leaves, a swirl of extra virgin olive oil is added as an accent before being released to the table.
Stuffed pizza bread is also very popular and comes with a range fillings the likes of grilled chicken salad (B.120), grilled vegetables, blue cheese, or Mozzarella with crudo ham. All are accompanied by salad.
What else could we sample now but pasta. There is an official statistic for pasta consumption in Italy, it is believed that the average Italian eats something like 28 kilos of pasta per year. That’s a lot of pasta so no surprises that it is so close to every Italian’s heart. Here there are three to choose from, spaghetti, linguine and penne with a host of sauces including naturally, ragu Neopolitan, seafood, ham, cream and mushrooms, pesto, carbonara and tuna.
Gnocchi alla Sorrentina (potato gnocci in the manner of Sorrento) is another house special, mixed with tomato sauce, basil leaves and topped with mozzarella and Pecorino cheese before it is baked in the oven until molten and bubbly with cheesy goodness (B.260). We tasted another speciality dish of Vicenzo’s, melenzane alla parmigiani. Fried chunky aubergine slices had been fried till crisp and then swathed in a robust tomato sauce and covered in grated Parmigiano, dotted with mozzarella and then baked in the scolding oven. It was absolutely delicious, the aubergine a joy with such an amazing meaty texture and generously treated with the tomato and class A cheeses.
Secondi (main) dishes include pork, chicken or beef steaks grilled and served with French fries, Italian sausage, or grilled meats offered as a sharing plate for two and the house beef a la pizzaiola which celebrates the pizzaioli’s craft with a succulent piece of juicy beef.
The wine is Italian centric with house wine by the glass coming in at B.90, or a ¼ litre for B.180 and ½ a litre for B.280. Bottles start at B.1,000. Fresh fruit juices and shakes are another speciality.
Vincenzo is one of those dedicated pizzaioli who are not only keeping the tradition alive but also chasing perfection with his pies and Pizza Art is definitely worth seeking out, specifically for its devotion to the classic Napoletana pizza.
Pizza Art is located on Thappraya Road, opposite Jomtien Complex next to View Talay 2 and TMB Bank. Tel: 087 608 6888 or visit www.http://pizzart.co.th.