Pizza Pizza La Terrazza Reviewed January / February 2008
Pizza Pizza La Terrazza atop Grace Bay Plaza across from the Regent Village
There is probably no other culture that can rival the gusto, passion and gregariousness than that of Italy. A culture that places great emphasis not only on appreciating the simple and absolute pleasures of eating, but also the importance of basking in the joy of wine and conversation while wallowing in the tangible love and nurturing that exists as a fundamental ingredient in every Italian dish. This cuisine of ‘comfort’ is indulged in by virtually every lifestyle, embraced and duplicated the world over.
If eating ‘Italian’ is one of your simple pleasures, as it is mine, reserve an evening to dine out at Pizza Pizza La Terrazza, upstairs at Grace Bay Plaza. The breezy open-air terrace and bar is spacious and comfortable, accented with strands of lights, potted palms and hanging greenery amidst a combination of wrought iron bar and dining tables. The kitchen is warm and cozy, nostalgic of an old-world Italian kitchen with an authentic brick oven, affable, rich colours and hand-painted designs.
A 16” large “kitchen sink” Pizza
I think by now you have realized that this is not ‘just another pizza joint’, but a born-again metamorphosis of Robin Foglia’s beloved and celebrated Pizza Pizza, who in my humble opinion has been making the best pizza in the islands for well over a decade. Of course, the menu features the pre-eminent and paramount item that put Pizza Pizza on the map of Provo and continues to make it famous at their Leeward Highway location, but now offers a full menu including appetisers, salads, imported pasta, baked specialties, grilled paninis, a selection of coffees and desserts, and a few other ‘specialties’ available on request.
We began with Bruschetta; grilled crostini bread topped with a homemade Italian Salsa followed by a few rounds of Mozzarella Sticks. The mouth-watering garlic aromas were immediately prevalent upon the Bruschetta’s delivery - thin slices of crusty Italian bread soaked up the wonderful ‘juice’ of the fresh and lively tasting tomato salsa, chased by the Mozzarella Sticks that were simply divine, “ooey and gooey” and not a hint of greasiness, with a savoury and zesty Marinara sauce for dipping.
Baked Ziti and Baked Lasagna are very popular menu items
I was particularly pleased to see salads offered as sides, plates or family portions - a welcome and uncommon addition to any menu. Green Garden, Mixed, Caesar or Dania Beach are all available in 3 sizes - even the Caprese Salad of vine-ripened tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil in a Balsamic dressing is offered in 3 size choices. You can make your salad a meal by adding grilled chicken or shrimp.
Beyond a doubt the pizza pie simply has to be the creative epitome of Italy. I struggle to think of any other food in the world that is so popular, versatile, affordable, portable and delicious! We applaud pizzaiolo (pizza chef) Raffaele Esposito of Naples who created the pizza as we know and enjoy it today - and here on Provo, our own pizzaiolos, Dania Tavera and Olga Ortiz prepare some of the most enticing and imaginative specialty pizzas that Esposito would be proud of - the Seafood Pizza is a delectable concoction of toppings - squid, conch, mussels, clams, shrimp, crab, baby octopus and herbed garlic; rich and creamy goat cheese and roasted red peppers top the Red Goat; and one of the most popular, the Margherita is a historical favourite. This world-famous pizza was invented by pizzaiolo Esposito himself for Queen Margherita and King Umberto of Italy in 1889. A tribute to the Italian flag, Esposito topped his Margherita pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil (red, white and green). Adored by the Queen and subsequently by the rest of the world, including my dinner companion, the robust and intense tomato flavours are compliments of San Marzano tomatoes - considered to be Italy’s most prized plum tomato, matchless for creating sauces.
Mix and Match Seven Different Pastas with your Favourite Sauce
Called ‘love apples’ by the French, the tomato is one of the key ingredients in Italian cuisine. It’s almost preposterous to believe that at one time most Europeans considered the tomato to be poisonous, and almost unimaginable to think where Italian cuisine would be today without the tomato, as its presence is elemental in so many dishes.
I love pasta. I could eat pasta every night of the week and never get bored because the possibilities are endless. So many pastas (there are over 300 worldwide and counting) - so many sauces - so little time! La Terrazza’s pasta is imported from Italy, and you choose your noodle - Spaghetti, Penne, Fusili, Farfalle (“butterflies” in Italian), Linguine (“little tongues”), Ziti or Rigatoni. Another reason to love pasta is the infinite sauce possibilities - “He is always different, like a sauce” is an old Sicilian expression, a testament to the fact that no two sauces are identical. Over the years, my deep-rooted and inveterate love for pasta has given me the opportunity to taste a trove of pasta sauces - and quite frankly, I thought I had tasted ’em all to some degree. Intrigued by the Papalina sauce, I consulted Robin for his pasta proposition - his recommendation - rigatoni. You know that feeling you get when something passes your lips that you have never tasted before? Meet Rigatoni Papalina - tubes of pasta with large grooves perfect for trapping that luscious combination of tomato sauce, pesto and dried hot chilli peppers - made to your own personal ‘heat’ specifications. In a word ‘magnifico’! Red-based sauces include meatballs, basil tomato, Bolognese with beef and red wine; and white-based sauces - Carbonara with bacon, Alla Vodka featuring the taste of Ketel One Vodka, Alfredo with ham and mushrooms, and finally a pesto sauce with basil and that inimitable Papalina. The Baked Ziti and Beef Lasagna are specialties also prepared in the brick oven and arrived in ‘hungry man’ proportions. Ziti, often served at Italian weddings is also known as “bridegrooms” a tubular pasta in a piping hot blend of tomato sauce, roasted garlic, Provolone, Mozzarella and fresh basil with deep, rich and thick tomato flavours. The Classic Beef Lasagna is Pizza Pizza’s original Northern Italian recipe revered island-wide with beef, red wine, cheese, tomato and spices - it was a “honkin” portion! You can never go wrong with the classic and traditional Spaghetti (“a length of cord”) and Basil Tomato Sauce, and part of the joy of pasta has to be the ‘twirling’ of the noodle in the curve of your spoon as you spin the perfect mouthful! All of this evenings’ pastas were perfectly cooked, ‘al dente’ firm to the bite.
Baked and Stuffed Calzoni Special
And now for those ‘specialties’ I was talking about - a few of my dining companions boasted of already having the fortuitous and favourable opportunity of dining at La Terrazza. Regaling us with mouth-watering tales of a previously devoured Calzone (“trouser” in Italian) - essentially a stuffed-pizza, fried or baked, it resembles a crescent-shaped turnover with an endless choice of fillings. Tempted to reorder and rekindle that culinary encounter, Robin enquired if they had ever experienced Stromboli? Taking note of all of our quizzical glances he explained that Stromboli is basically a pizza that is rolled, sliced and served with a tomato sauce for dipping. Say no more - it was on the way. While none of us had ever recalled eating Stromboli - we were all still intrigued by the name, recalling it from somewhere. “Aha!” exclaimed a fellow diner - Stromboli - he was the bad guy from Pinocchio! For the record, there is an island off the coast of Sicily called Stromboli where origins of this pizza reformation are rumoured to have occurred and further, there are claims that this decadent pizza transfiguration originated in an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Philadelphia and was named after the movie ‘Stromboli’ starring Ingrid Bergman. Fuhgettaboutit - You know that feeling you get when something passes your lips that you have never tasted before? Stuffed with genoa salami, ham, sausage, green pepper, onion, mushrooms and mozzarella, it was served with a piquant tomato sauce with the flavours of garlic and basil and a touch of fresh chilli for dipping. Al Italia!
Pizza Pizza has two locations and delivers to you
Italians are resolute in their belief of the importance of enjoying wine and food together, a gastronomic harmony of sorts, and La Terrazza offers a very reasonable and adequate wine and champagne list. It is further believed that Italian beer is also a perfect match for the spicy, zesty flavours of Italian food and Robin offers two - Moretti, a premium pilsner and Peroni, a full-bodied lager.
Even though each and every one of us were already sporting a take-home sizable ‘souvenir’ of our meal to indulge in the following day - we agreed that it could be considered an insult to our Italian host to NOT have dessert! A round of Bailey’s Coffee aided in our digestion along with a decadent helping of Chocolate Caramel and a refreshing and cool slice of Key Lime Pie, smooth and tart with a delicate graham crust. Our reputations intact!
Our table was one any Italian host would be proud of. We ate a lot. We drank wine. We laughed and enjoyed the pleasure of good food and good company over a leisurely and unhurried evening. Essremo di ritorno!
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