Thursday, April 11th, 2013
Recently, I was asked to write a piece about the Association Verace Pizza Napoletana for the show Atlanta Eats. I interviewed an old acquaintance, Riccardo Ullio (you may have heard of him) regarding his membership in the association and soon found myself craving pizza.
When I asked him what it took to become a member, his first response was “money”. Nevertheless, Ullio passed a rigorous test to determine if his pizza met the strict guidelines, from ingredients to the final product, making his restaurant Fritti among the first in the U.S. to become a member of the prestigious association.
That was in 2004. Now Atlanta boasts a few more certified authentic pizzerias including Antico Napoletana and Double Zero Napoletana, a name referencing the super-fine wheat flour that is required to make the dough. Imported San Marzano tomatoes and bufala mozzarella must be used, although the cheese doesn’t have to come from Italy….Ullio gets his from a local artisan producer.
It was one of the first warm evenings of Spring, prompting me to suggest dinner at Fritti, with its lush patio decorated with tiny lights and a festive mural on one wall. LC and I chose a table outside, each of us starting with an appropriate beverage pairing for pizza, a Peroni.
Ullio’s pizzas are rather large, although they are considered individual servings. We decided to order two, and split an appetizer to start. Robiola fritta, almond crusted goat cheese with arugula, peppers, and olive salad sounded like fried goat cheese garnished with the remaining ingredients, when in fact, it was the opposite. Although not listed under the salad section of the menu, this dish was definitely a salad. LC wasn’t surprised. The generous plate of peppery arugula and salty olives complimented the fried discs of mild goat cheese….nice and light.
Fritti offers a large selection of authentic neopolitan pizzas, from the popular Regina Margherita simply topped with San Marzano tomatoes, bufala mozzarella and fresh basil to pies with a variety of meats and cheeses. Although I wanted to venture out, I couldn’t resist my favorite pancetta e cipolla, the standard pizza with the addition of caramelized onions and hot pepper. LC agreed to be my guinea pig and tried the quattro stagioni with cotto ham, artichokes, mushrooms, and black olives.
When visiting my grandparents in Germany, we would often visit the neighborhood pizzeria where I would always order a quattro stagioni, four seasons in English, traditionally prepared with each of the four toppings placed on the pizza separately, dividing the pie into quarters. At Fritti, one has the option of having it topped in the traditional manner or with the ingredients mixed, which is the way LC ordered it.
We polished off the salad and our first round of Peronis just as our pizzas arrived. Unlike typical American fast food pizza, toppings are more sparingly applied on Neopolitan style pizza, and the crust is both crispy and chewy. Salty pancetta was the perfect compliment to the sweet caramelized onions on my pie that I reluctantly shared with LC. Meanwhile, he was enjoying his pizza as well, allowing me one tasty slice. Both of us managed to eat half and had the remainder wrapped up to take home.
Chewy, cheesy, authentic or not, Americans love their pizza….any way you slice it!
309 N. Highland Avenue NE 404-880-9559