Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spawn and Speck

Mother's Day came a few days late for me this year, as several of my nine thousand jobs prevented me from being able to celebrate on Sunday. My daughter actually sent me a text message asking if we could arrange to go out for dinner one night this week, so I replied sure, are you paying? She said yeah, as long as I can borrow some money. Needless to say, I got stuck with the bill.

It was worth every penny though, as we went to my favorite restaurant. Her friend tagged along (it was supposed to be three of them all together, but her other friend bailed at the last minute) and as you can see, they dressed up for the occasion:
Yes, those are both Iron Maiden shirts. Would you expect anything less from a child I spawned?

Dinner itself was wonderful though. The restaurant we went to is actually owned by a friend of mine, though sadly I haven't seen him in over a decade. My daughter has met him on a few of her frequent visits there without me, but he always seems to be missing in action when I show up.

We decided to just share a bunch of food, and started the meal with some mixed greens drizzled with a house-made red wine vinaigrette. Following that we had the calamari, which they prepare by crisping to perfection before lightly tossing in a spicy lemon tomato sauce. Our third dish was the Fungi Fritti, which is battered oyster mushrooms topped with a gorgonzola cream sauce. Absolutely incredible.

Now, the thing that makes this restaurant so incredible is that they are one of the few Italian restaurants in the world (outside of Italy) that belong to the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, a Naples-based group that ensures all ingredients, preparation, and equipment passes their strict guidelines. To give you an indication of what I mean by strict, their massive wood burning oven contains stones straight from Mount Vesuvius - a requirement by the organization.

I don't know how much difference the actual stones make, but the pizza is incredible. Now you have to understand, we are talking about authentic Napoli pizza here - this isn't Dominos. If you like your pizza loaded with toppings and weighed down with two pounds of cheese, this isn't for you. The crust is soft, and just lightly charred (not burnt) on the botttom, resulting in an insanely delicious flavor. The sauce is nothing more than crushed San Marzano tomatoes. You will not find Hawaiian Pizza on their menu - the toppings are all authentic as well. My favorite is the Speck, which is tomato sauce, mozzarella, speck (smoked prosciutto), parmigiano, and basil:

Just trust me, it is amazing. Anyways, we wrapped up our dinner with an order of Tiramisu split three ways, which took all of about 92 seconds for us to demolish. One drink for me and Italian soda for the girls, and the total damage was $90 (including a 20% tip) for the three of us.

The food alone was worth every penny, but since my daughter and I get to spend very little actual quality time together these days due to both of our insane schedules, it was the company that made the evening priceless.