Last Thursday my former co-workers Jeanette and Dena invited me out to celebrate (almost) completing my first week at the new job (which is going great, by the way). Our destination? Apizzo, a new brick-oven pizzeria recently opened by Jeanette's friend, Stefan, in Pawcatuck, CT.
True brick-oven pizza has a thin crust and is cooked at an extremely high temperature for about two minutes in - you guessed it - a wood-fired brick oven. The thin crust and high temperatures allow the pizza to cook thoroughly but quickly, and the wood-firing gives it a great flavor. Stefan actually had his oven built in Italy and shipped over here for assembly - the guy is serious about his pizza.
I immediately liked the look of Apizzo - deep red walls, sleek dark-wood furniture, and next to no clutter (I hate those restaurants that feel like they have to cover their walls in various forms of generic "memorabilia" that doesn't even relate to the restaurant or anyone in it. The kitchen is open and all customers have an excellent view of the roaring fire inside the aforementioned brick oven.
We started with drinks - wine, naturally - Stefan keeps a decent selection of mid-priced Italian vino on hand. However, what was truly impressive as far as size and variety are concerned is Apizzo's beer list. A cursory glance showed about 50 different beers - many imports or microbrews - available for selection.
We ordered appetizers about halfway through our first bottle of wine. We ordered two salads - the Caesar and the pear, walnut, and arugula - plus an antipasto plate with a selection of meats, cheeses and olives for the table.
The salads were truly fantastic - the Caesar dressing struck just the right flavor balance and wasn't too thick. And anytime you put pears, walnuts, and gorgonzola together you pretty much have a dream combination (honestly, I could probably eat a whole bowl of just toasted walnuts and bleu cheese crumbles and be happy). The antipasto plate featured two cheeses - Parmesan and maybe fontina? - salami, prosciutto (the magic word!) olives, and roasted red peppers. YUM.
We had a hard time settling on what kind of pizza to get, as everything that went by our table looked so delectable. We finally settled on a prosciutto and arugula combination along with a classic Margherita (tomatoes, mozzarella, basil).
The arugula/prosciutto was out of this world. It's a sauceless pizza - the crust is instead drizzled with olive oil and covered with garlic and fresh mozzarella - topped with salty slices of prosciutto and spicy, peppery arugula. The arugula was extremely green and fresh and the prosciutto must have been of fairly high quality because it definitely tasted like prosciutto rather than salty ham (there is a difference!)
The Margherita could have been boring. However, Stefan's commitment to high-quality ingredients took it to the next level. His imported tomatoes and incredibly fresh mozzarella tasted exactly right - not the too-strong flavor of cheap canned tomatoes or the rubbery texture of low-quality mozz. The basil, like the arugula on the pizza before it, was green and fresh. Both pizzas sat atop a thin, perfectly crisped crust.
As if this meal needed to be any better, Apizzo carries an assortment of gelatos. Gelato is essentially ice cream with less air - it has a more dense and creamy texture and holds flavor better. A fruit-flavored gelato is almost as strong as a sorbet. We all selected sweet and savory, however: ducle de leche and espresso.
Because the flavor is so strong and the texture so dense, you don't need as much gelato as you would ice cream. A small portion is perfectly satisfactory. Let me tell you, heaven may just be a cup of dulce de leche gelato.
Overall, I liked everything about Apizzo. We also had good service, something many restaurants in this area seem to be lacking. This is definitely the best pizza - gourmet or otherwise - I have had since I have been in CT. I'll be going back soon - and this time bringing Noe with me, because apparently the cold leftovers I brought him weren't quite enough.
Happy New Year!
2 years ago