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Fast forward to 2015, and Philly is one of the best pizza towns in America. The renaissance may have started when Stephen Starr opened Stella in Head House Square, bringing an authentic Neapolitan to town. Another pioneer was Marc Vetri, who offered even better Neapolitans at Osteria and later opened Pizzeria Vetri. Zavino and Nomad also offer up world-class Neapolitan pies.
But unlike most cities where Neapolitan pies are popping up all over, Philly has gained some traditional American pies (thin, crisp, sturdy crust) at places like Beddia, Pizza Brain, SLiCE, and Rustica. Philly is rich in great pizza.
Is there room for one more? Stephanie & John Reitano are known in Philly for Capogiro and its excellent gelato. Their newest venture Capofitto offers that same gelato. It is also a full-service Italian restaurant featuring a daily pasta, a fascinating assortment of appetizers, a few calzones, and many 12" pizzas, priced from $12 - $19. Despite the glut of Neapolitan pizzas in town, food critic Craig Laban awarded two bells to Capofitto, and that put it on my radar.
I arrived on a Wednesday as the 11:30 lunch service was beginning. I ordered the Calabrese pizza, which features Mozzarella di Bufala, Piennolo tomatoes (from Vesuvius), N’duja salame, pecorino Romano, Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil.
|In the rear dining room|
My server asked if I wanted the pie cut (Medigan style) or not (Neapolitan style). I was advised that the traditional way to eat this wet-center pie is with knife and fork. I probably should have done so, but I asked for mine to be cut.
|Perfect char underneath|
Neapolitan pies cook rapidly, and mine arrived swiftly. It was cut into four generous slices, and it had immense eye appeal. The crust was about ideal for a Neapolitan. The center was thin and delicate, and yes, wet. Wet, but not soggy. I can't say the moisture enhanced the first bites of each slice, but it didn't ruin it. And for me, this was the first time I felt the wet center was perhaps right and proper.
The cornicione was big, puffy but dense, and nicely chewy. Underneath, the crust sported just enough spotting to give it a touch of crispness and a boatload of character.
The excellent tomatoes were crushed but seemed almost whole. The N’duja salame was small bits of spicy and savory sausage. Each bite of this pie delivered a perfectly balanced flavor burst and ideal texture. The cheese was so white that it looked like egg whites while adding the right note of piquancy.
The olive oil was a finishing touch that added yet more flavor and some welcome moisture beyond the pie center. I also had some nice hot pepper seasoning that I used judiciously.
This was a nearly perfect rendition of a Neapolitan pizza. I began wondering, is it the best in the region? It certainly takes a back seat to none. The owners are serious about the dough; this philosophy is shared on their website:
There is a “Pizza Evolution” happening in Naples. A handful of pizzaioli are taking this art to another level. The dough is paramount. A highly hydrated dough with a long fermentation and careful handling results in a light, airy, tender crust. Everything on a pizza should enhance and exalt the dough. This is the pizza that is making its way to the tables of the Napoletani. This is what we are striving for.
|The wood-fired oven, where pies cook in 90n seconds|