We all know the adage that every pizza is good, even when it’s bad. It’s mostly true, though I’ve had a French bread slice or two that I wouldn’t repeat. But the part that doesn’t make it into the truism is that while most pizza is OK, it’s rare that you find one that’s truly memorable. That’s why it’s notable that I can’t stop thinking about the quirky pizza “Alla Crust” from Crust Pizzeria Napoletana.
Perhaps that’s because it’s more than just a pizza. Half of the round of dough is about as basic as you can get—a pizza Margherita. The other half is folded over into a calzone. Now when I say that a Margherita is basic, this is no reflection on its appeal. When I’m ordering Neapolitan pies, I always try the Margherita first to see if the ingredients and techniques are in line.
At Crust, the pizza passed this test with flying colors. At first bite, I tasted the acid of the tomatoes, a pure flavor without a hint of the cloying sweetness of some tomato sauces. There was more gooey cheese than most Neapolitan pies I’ve had, so the blobs of mozzarella ran together, but I didn’t mind, especially when there were fresh basil leaves to provide variety to the bites. But the secret to any great pizza is the crust, and the one at the Vienna restaurant is so good that it earns the place its name. At once it’s airy and chewy, with just a touch of crispness where charred bubbles of dough blister at the bone. It’s also cooked enough that the center isn’t soupy as some Neapolitan pizzas tend to be.
But that’s also due to the presence of the calzone. The folded dough is filled with oozy ricotta that melds with nutty fontina. There are slices of salami too, which add a meaty bite to the already tooth-satisfying crust. To feel just a bit virtuous, there’s even an arugula salad on one quarter of the plate.
Yes, all pizza is good, but some are better than others. And this is the one I’ll be thinking about next time a craving hits. // 8415 Old Courthouse Road, Vienna
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