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Restaurants & Bars 1

Pizzaiolo again

J.A. | Aug 5, 200502:07 PM

Finally made it to Pizzaiolo the other night -- we live just a few blocks away, but we've been putting it off with the hopes that the service (much maligned by other hounds) would improve and crowds decrease with time.

The food was as good as we had hoped, but unfortunately, the service lived up to its reputation. A few minutes after being seated, we turned to the nearest waitress to ask a question about the menu. Our waitress rushed to the table and interrupted our question, saying "Um, excuse me, I'm your server, actually," in an extremely rude tone.

The restaurant also seemed way overstaffed -- there were waiters and busboys colliding and dodging each other throughout the restaurant, and many seemed like they didn't really know what to do with themselves.

But the food was fabulous. We shared a generous bowl chilled heirloom tomato soup ($9) -- peeled red heirloom tomatoes (pulsed briefly in a blender, I think), really good olive oil, s&p and four purple basil leaves floting on top. Beautiful presentation, and absolutely delicious; the flavor of each ingredient stood out boldly, clean and refreshing. Great change of pace from the ubiquitous heirloom tomato salad.

We got two pizzas ($14 each): cherry tomatoes with calabrian peppers, and squid with rosemary and aioli. The cherry tomatoes were great: red and orange halved tomatoes with just the right amount of heat from the peppers. The only problem was that the juice from the tomatoes made the pizza soggy in the middle.

The squid pizza, though, was the standout of the night. Perfectly charred chunks of squid, the most tender and sweet I've ever tasted (my girlfriend, a recovering vegetarian who's completely freaked out by the idea of squid admitted that they were pretty good), slivered red onions, and a gorgeous spiral drizzle of aioli, fresh and garlicky, all perfumed with rosemary. There was nothing too juicy on the pizza so the crust stayed crisp to the last bite.

There was also a "Pizza alla Pizzaiolo" on the menu -- chef's choice, different every time it's ordered, no requests allowed. Has anyone tried it? I'm really curious to hear some examples of what he makes.

So the verdict: the mildly unpleasant service was not nearly enough to deter from the quality of the food. This restaurant is in my neighborhood and I will definitely be back.

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