Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: Ambrogio15 and the Quest for the Perfect Pizza

The trouble with perfecting something simple is there are only a few factors under your control, and only so far you can go with them. Pizza, at its heart, is three things: dough, sauce, cheese. Sure, you can add to that base formula, but at a certain point you're just gilding the lily. So how do you hone and refine this handful of ingredients to create a pizza that will stand above all others? Not many pizza joints even try to tackle this question. Ambrogio15 in PB is one of the few places that might just have an answer.

Let's ignore our carpaccio appetizer. Sure, beef and parmesan has no right to be this light and fresh, brightened by citrus, bitter arugula and the salty pop of capers. But it's just a sideshow. A tantalizing distraction.

Let's forget the tiramisu en coppa. Yes it's tasty, with lots of sweet mascarpone cream, Nutella and crunchy coffee-infused ladyfingers, but small enough to keep you craving more. But it's not why you're here.

You want pizza. You demand it. Milan-style, razor thin, with top-shelf ingredients hauled across the globe from Italy.

How about the burrata e prosciutto crudo? The crust is impossibly thin, deserving of an architectural award for standing up to the ingredients with only minor flopping. San Marzano tomato sauce that's sweet, almost fruity. A layer of mozzarella fior di latte—literally, "flower of milk"—that's just as sumptuous as it sounds. A lush, creamy expanse of burrata from Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot. And an authentic 20-month-aged prosciutto di Parma, salty and intense. It's every region's specialty—what generations have put their heart and soul into. Put it together on one pizza, and you feel like a kid stealing from the cookie jar: Am I really allowed to eat this?

Amy ordered the salamino piccante pizza, which is its own revelation. Despite the name, it's really not spicy, but the salame is delicious, thickly sliced and satisfying. The rosemary is a perfect touch of piney herbaceousness that could easily have been overpowering, but instead is perfectly balanced. I was tempted to have more, but that would've meant trading away more of my own.

Have I found the pinnacle of pizza? There are other contenders, of course. There's the remarkable BIGA downtown, farmer's market dark horse Cucina Caprese, and undoubtedly others I haven't discovered. But in truth, maybe I'm too fixated on perfection. For now, I can rest easy knowing there's at at least one place I can turn to satisfy even my strongest pizza cravings.

Score: 9.5 out of 10

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