National Pizza Week Ends Today: Five "Best of" Places to Celebrate
Wild boar cacciatorini with red onions and aged cheddar. Roasted eggplant with chilies, capers, and shallots. Local beet leaf with lemon and garlic. A stark departure from your average pepperoni or Margherita. These creations are dreamed up by Dak Kerprich, chef/owner of Lantana's Pizzeria Oceano. Kerprich goes for nothing short of perfection. He makes his own mozzarella and crafts only as much dough as the restaurant will go through daily. He sources local and artisanal ingredients and highlights their origin on his daily-changing menu. And his perfection shows in the rules surrounding his pizzas -- some might say to a fault, since Pizzeria Oceano allows no takeout (it would ruin the pizza's texture) or substitutions (he's the chef, not you). But the proof is in the product: Kerprich's wood-fired crust is airy-light yet brusque as a thin cracker. His toppings are always in perfect proportion, and his sauce is the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
Just like in the motherland of pizza, it's all about the wood here. In a marketplace dominated by coal-fired pizza, Sicilian Oven bakes its gourmet pies in an oven heated with smooth-burning, sweet-smelling wood. Coal often gets too hot: leaving scorched black crusts. Wood, though, cooks slightly slower and more consistently, giving Sicilian's pizzas a golden crust with just a touch of caramelized char along the edge. The Neapolitans would be proud. Atop the thin crust, you'll find perfectly creamy cheese, fresh vegetables, bits of ripe and tasty crushed tomato. The specialty pies are to die for: cervellata and broccoli rabe, bitter rabe with fatty sausage; calabrese margherita, salty mozzarella, roasted red peppers, sweet licoricey basil, green pesto, and perfectly grilled chicken. The look of contentment on your face as you leave will give new meaning to the term "get wood."