Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Review: Domenica, New Orleans

As of October 2013, perhaps the hottest celebrity chef in New Orleans is John Besh. Besh operates Restaurant August, Besh Steakhouse, Lüke, La Provence, The American Sector, & DomenicaLüke is smoking hot; it's tough to get a table, even late at night. Perhaps only Cochon is trending higher at the moment. I did get to Lüke for lunch, and it was excellent. But this being a pizza blog, a visit to Domenica was necessary.
"Cotechino"  -  click any pic to enlarge

Domenica is at 123 Baronne Street, near but not in the French Quarter, and adjacent to the Roosevelt Hotel. The exterior is stately and the interior is a hip, airy, modern space with high ceilings. There is a full Italian menu, but other than one member of our party who chose risotto, our only non-pizza order was a shared appetizer. We chose the "Affettati Misti" - chef’s selection of assorted salumi, imported cheeses, marinated olives, roasted vegetables, and candied fruits. It was wonderful and served with superb Italian bread.

Three in our party ordered pizza. I had a very difficult time deciding on which personal-size Neapolitan style pizza (thin, puffy, charred crust) to choose, finally opting for the Cotechino, with pork sausage, scallions & tomatoes. Tony customized his white pie with soppressata, and Arthur selected the Smoked Pork pizza with mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim chili & salsa verde. I'd love to go back and try the Pizza Enzo, featuring anchovies, tomatoes, garlic & post-bake mortadella, reviewed HERE by Carey Jones of Slice - Seriouseats.
My dining companions

I had the luxury of eating my chosen pie, but also slice-swapping so that I could try the other two.  In general, the Neapolitan crust was well executed - tasty enough to eat alone - and marred (properly) with just a tiny few incinerated edges. My pie had wonderful flavors, but it was the least balanced of the three. In the center, a few slices became soggy and sloppy due to excess moisture from the red sauce; also, the sausage was applied to only one half of the pie. These are minor quibbles, because the pie was satisfactory and a great bargain at $13 in a pricey tourist town.
Affettati misti

Still, I can't say it threatened the best Neapolitan pies I've had, such as at Pane Bianco (reviewed HERE) in Phoenix and 2Amy's (reviewed HERE) in Washington DC.
Smoked Pork pie

White pie

The white pie was better than my pizza, owing to a better balance of toppings to crust. This crust was thus crisper and better able to support the tasty cheese and cured meat on top.
Nice char

Best of all, though, was the more-experimental smoked pork pizza. The pie also enjoyed a wonderful balance. The pork was rich and savory without dominating the other flavors, while the Anaheim chilies added just a nip of spice. At home, I've been swimming in tomatillos and hence was skeptical about salsa verde on a pizza, but it was delicious here and applied judiciously. This pie was the clear winner.
Tomatillos, the source for salsa verde

New Orleans, to my experience, is a town where it's tough to get a bad meal. The service, the ambiance, and the food here were all delightful - just enough so that this very good Neapolitan pie qualifies as destination pizza. 

The crust gets an 8, the various toppings get a 9.5, service and ambiance a 10. Overall a "9" pizza and surely worth a visit.

Domenica on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

  1. Hello

    We recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for our new product called the Pizza Grate.

    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/250320055/the-pizza-grate

    The Pizza Grate is a new type of pizza "stone" made from a thick aluminum slab that has a pattern of through-holes and a backstop. The through-holes allow steam to escape when the dough hits the preheated cooking surface, resulting in a crisp and light crust. The backstop assist in pie removal and keeps the pie from being pushed into the back wall of the oven.

    The product works extremely well, we have been making pizzeria-quality pies time after time. The aluminum slab has just the right thermal conductivity and thermal mass. It also have many other culinary uses, which we describe in the project story.

    Please take a look at our kickstarter project to see a short video and pictures of some awesome pies and other dishes, and if you don't mind, please mention the project to your followers.

    Best regards,

    John

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  2. You know if you go to Domenica for happy hour, 4-6pm, all the pies are half off, making it an even better deal. I like to order 2-3 and take most of it home.

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  3. I was aware of that happy hour offer - but my visit was constrained by the conference I was attending. Lucky you to live close by and take some home! Great town for food in general.

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  4. Hey, found your blog searching for pizza face in google. Do you know if they use their bare hands to touch the meat and then the vegan ingredients, plus do they use a specific cutter just for the vegan ones? I personally wouldn't be happy if they're touching meat then touching my stuff but the pizzas do sound good so Id like to know either way :) Find Sports Bar

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  5. If you make it back to New Orleans I recommend giving Ancora on Freret st a try. They seem to take their neapolitan pizza quite seriously and in my experience it has always been quite good. Plus they cure their own meats in house.

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  6. Thanks - putting Ancora on my list!

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