Remember when I said I started making my own pizza because I hadn’t found any in Los Angeles that really fit the bill? Well I am happy to report that this is no longer the case. Not only does it seem like the urban food movement is making its way through a wood-fired revival, but the cropping up of new Neapolitan pizza restaurants in Southern California is a sure sign of a very promising future.
Mother Dough in Los Feliz, one of the more gentrified hipster communities of LA, is a prime example. First, they successfully set out to provide genuine, authentic Neapolitan pizza. Then they raised the bar with killer wines, incredible salads, excellent Italian and German beers, and of course, simple and rustic desserts with things like crème fraiche and hazelnut oil.
Sünner Kölsch--medium bodied lager, a bit grassy in flavor, nice aroma, sweet to start, crisp to finish.
So what exactly is “authentic” Neapolitan pizza? There’s actually an official association in Napoli that governs this stuff called Verace Pizza Napoletana Associazione (VPN) and it states that you can only use the following ingredients in your pizza that we know as the Margherita:
- Doppio Zero or Double Zero ‘00’ flour (extremely fine, high gluten)
- Mozzarella di Bufala Campana (regional buffalo’s milk mozzarella)
- San Marzano tomatoes (grown in the soil of Mt. Vesuvius)
- Parmigiano Reggiano
- Sea Salt and a little olive oil as a drizzle and NOT in the dough
Mother Dough’s menu even has a slightly facetious FAQ on the backside for those who want to know why the consistency and simplicity of their pizza doesn’t match the typical Pizza Hut combination pizza loaded with toppings in extra large form. The menu itself is minimal but excellent, making it very difficult to choose.
Raw Marcona almonds with lemon juice and sea salt
You will very likely see this salad on everyone’s table because it is only one of two salads offered and, in my opinion, you could put burrata on an old tennis shoe and it would still be a big seller. This is Mother Dough’s burrata salad atop heirloom tomatoes and arugula. Great salt, citrus, and spice.
At this time I would like to go on the record that I really do not like zucchini. I don’t want to say hate because it’s a strong word but I would go as far as to say partially loathe. There is only one form in which zucchini exhibits any redeeming qualities and that is on Mother Dough’s zucchini pizza. Just a bit of manchego cheese, delicate shoe strings of zucchini topped with dried herbs like oregano and thyme, and finished with drizzles of olive oil on that unmistakable wood-fired charred chewy crust.
Then of course, the pièce de résistance, the apple of my eye, the pot of gold at the end of my own personal rainbow, La Margherita with its perfectly placed mozzarella and sweet, salty sauce.
That very slight hint of gaminess from the buffalo comes through in taste and aromatics, and the fresh basil is slightly cooked but still raw enough to prevent any bitterness.
When the dough goes into the oven, the entire pie is uniformly thin but the most fascinating thing to me about these high temperature wood-fired ovens is that these pizzas cook in less than two minutes, sometimes closer to even 60 seconds. Mother Dough’s oven is imported from Napoli and cooks at about 850˚F. The ambient heat is so hot that the entire thing cooks quickly at once, as opposed to the home oven where par-barking the plain dough first is recommended. The charring of the pizza is almost like a caramelization where a sweetness comes out that makes the whole crust taste like toasted marshmallows.
Imported handmade oven from Napoli
It is safe to say that my quest to find the ultimate Neapolitan Margherita has been fulfilled with Mother Dough but I feel a sense of duty to the people to continue to seek out top contenders. If you have any that you’d like to throw in the ring, let me know!
Next time: Grilled flatbread and pizza accoutrements!