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New Yorkers appear to be over the rainbow for multicolored foodstuffs right now — cake pops, milkshakes, and bagels have all turned Technicolor, appearing in vibrant splashes in contrast to the gray doldrums of winter, and just in time to jazz up our Instagram feed. It was only a matter of time before pizza got in on the act.
“We’re thinking big, thinking crazy,” admits Giovanni Bartocci, co-owner of Via Della Pace Pizza (130 St Marks Place, 212-466-4686) and self-confessed pizza fanatic. “I’m pizza addicted! I could keep talking about pizzas for hours. I think about it all the time. I’m from Rome, so I’ve been making pizza most of my life [most recently at the pasta-focused sister restaurant Via Della Pace, also co-owned with partner Marco Ventura]. I just thought, how about trying something new?”
For Bartocci, that something is colored pizza dough. And not subtly hued either — it’s bold red, sunny yellow, pitch-black, and vivid green. Go big or go home.
“How the world is right now, we need some brightness in our lives,” explains Bartocci. “That’s when we started experimenting.”
While these pizza admittedly straddle the line between joyful and gimmicky, quality ingredients and sheer craft keep them mostly on the right side. “Just like our regular pizzas, they have a thin, crisp base with some light char, and beautiful fresh, seasonal toppings,” says Bartocci. “The color just adds to the fun. And, honestly, adds to the flavor, too.”
“We use only natural colors, of course,” Bartocci notes. “We started by using the same ingredients we would use use to color pasta dough. Squid ink for black, spinach for green, saffron for yellow. Our chef, Giovanni Nasti, really wanted to do a red dough, but beets still looked washed out, and not as vibrant as we wanted. He worked really hard on it, eventually discovering that we could keep the beets in, but also replace the water with a great Barolo from Italy. You can really taste it in the finished pizza. It’s not just there for color. It’s got a freshness and a lovely deep flavor.”
“I think people might order these pizzas as an experiment at first,” admits Bartocci, “but then, they stand up for themselves. They make you think again. The dough is light, and the toppings sing out. Right now, I love the black ink pizza with salmon, red cabbage, poppy seeds, sour cream, and chive. Not at all traditional, but very interesting and beautiful, and most important of all – delicious!”