Forcella's Deep-Fry Pie Guy
New York City isn't short on pizzas. Practically every corner boasts a slice joint, and over the past decade, the number of restaurants peddling pies has exploded. We're now well-versed in Neapolitan-, Roman-, Sicilian-, and even Salerno-style cooking methods. Brick-oven, coal, or wood-fired, our metropolis offers a style to suit everyone's taste. Price point, too—paupers devour 99-cent triangles while princes feast on $50 truffled monstrosities. Hell, most diners even sell pizza bagels. Putting cheese on bread has been explored from pretty much every angle.
At least that's what I'd thought. Then I visited Forcella.
Celebrated Italian pizzaiolo Giulio Adriani, most recently of Olio Pizza e Più in Greenwich Village, mans the stove at this Williamsburg newcomer. He also happens to be the Master Teacher of the True Neapolitan Pizza Association—talk about cultural capital on a résumé. Certainly on first glance, the Lorimer Street spot, which is BYOB for now, resembles your standard nouveau Neapolitan hangout: a casual-but-cozy brick-walled interior, simple wood tables and chairs for about 50, and an open kitchen anchored by a large, mosaic-tiled oven. The vibe is low-key, which suits the local crowd perfectly.
The menu lists a typical selection of pizzas, most quite good. Scan further, however, until you reach the ones marked "fritte," a/k/a the deep-fried varieties. Yep, you read that correctly. And this unusual celebration of caloric excess is why you need to hop the L to Brooklyn, pronto.
Begin with the eatery's crowning jewel, the montanara ($10). To make it, Adriani submerges the dough in oil first, creating a base that billows with air but keeps its chewiness while crackling bubbles pock the edges. He then lightly sauces the disc and polka dots it with house-made mozzarella before baking. Calories be damned—this pie of symphonic textures is unlike any you've had before. Make sure to order it.
Or you could go for the ripieno, which are the fried, stuffed options—think calzones for the truly gluttonous set. The classico ($14) packs in the dairy with ricotta and smoked mozzarella, plus sopressata matchsticks for a meaty kick. It, like the $10 alla scarola (a cheeseless rendition plumped with escarole, capers, and olives), is a visual showstopper. Although yummy, both have a lot going on at once—purists might wish they'd ordered a second montanara instead.
Why you'd forsake a deep-fried crust for a baked one is beyond my comprehension, but if that's the case, try the materdei ($14), topped with spicy salami. A margherita ($11) works, too, but you should also sample the marinara ($9), smeared only with tomato sauce and sprinkled with a hint of garlic and oregano—simplicity at work.
Generally, the red pizzas triumph over the whites, which often fall flat on flavor. Especially avoid the spaccanapoli ($13), weighed down with a bland and mushy eggplant-zucchini-pepper medley, and the pesto-painted mergellina ($19), with its waterlogged porcini mushrooms. Appetizers and salads also don't bring much edible entertainment to the table. (Nix the insipid $8 caponatina.) Keep to the carbs here.
Pizza-for-dessert is often a gimmicky letdown, so I tend to avoid it. But Forcella has a Nutella version ($10) if that tickles your taste buds. Or try the $6 angioletti, which drizzles the chocolate-hazelnut spread over knobby strips of dough, plus a dusting of powdered sugar for some Feast of San Gennaro fare gone fancy. The real reason I'd recommend that dish? Sort of obvious: Because it's fried.
For more restaurant coverage, check out our food blog, Fork in the Road, at voicefoodblog.com. Follow us on Twitter @ForkintheRoadVV.
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