May 12th, 2011 by Brian Schwartz – Comments (16)
At Andolini’s, they take pizza seriously. Their master pizzaiolo learned his craft in Italy and he’s taught his apprentices well. That’s why, when I visited their brand-new Cherry Street branch, I took one look at their lovely dining room, brand-new but already homey and welcoming…
and then took a table in front, near the open kitchen, where I could watch them make my pizza. I ordered the Spring Street, which is a homage to perhaps my favorite pizzeria, Lombardi’s, on Spring Street in Manhattan’s Little Italy. It’s made with the same artistry as Lombardi’s, which has been making the pie off and on since 1905. I watched my waiter (who, like all the waiters, knows about Lombardi’s, Spring Street, and a lot about pizza generally) take the order ticket to the kitchen, and then I ran kitchenside to watch the show.
First the pizzaiolo took a big ball of homemade dough and pounded it into a flat circle.
Then he tossed it high into the air!
The pizza spread out. He caught it (if he misses, it goes in the trash) and spun it on his finger to make it even thinner and wider.
Back on the table, the dough was given its final shape and thick rim.
Now for the sauce. It’s rich, it’s made from crushed tomatoes, and using a long spoon, the pizzaiolo put a nice big glob in the center of the pie.
Then, slowly and carefully, he used the back of the spoon to spread the sauce in a spiral to cover the entire pizza.
Now, the cheese. Mozzarella of course. In New York’s Little Italy, it’s fresh and made in the basement. Not difficult, but painful, since the cheesemaker must plunge his hands into scalding hot water. And that’s what they do at Andolini’s. Now the pizzaiolo sliced the homemade cheese
and carefully put each luscious slice on the pizza
One huge ball of Mozzarella wasn’t enough so he sliced a second.
Now, the oil. Italian extra virgin olive oil is drizzled over the pie using a gleaming copper pitcher that wouldn’t be out of place in a Turkish bazaar.
Then another cheese. My pizza artist strewed grated Pecorino Romano, a lusty, flavorful aged sheep’s milk cheese from Italy, over the pie.
And now the pie is ready for the oven.
15 minutes later, it came out of the oven. It received a second dusting of Pecorino. Fresh basil leaves were strewn on top, and a masterpiece was ready for consumption.
OH how beautiful! It deserves another picture and the waiter, as proud of the pie as the chef, patiently stood carrying it as I snapped this second photo.
Oh it was sooooooo good! My friends, who were at first very skeptical of a pie that didn’t have any meat, devoured far more than they planned. I ate four slices, and the huge pie was gone. How did it compare to Lombardi’s? It’s been years since I ate there and my memory is hazy. I think the crust is better at Lombardi’s. After all, Lombardi’s has a coal oven, and that gives it the perfect blister, texture and char. But I think the toppings are better here. The cheese, the oil, the rich flavorful sauce just mix in the mouth in sprightly synergy, each component enhancing the others. I loved every bite.
1552 E. 15 St. (Cherry Street)
Tulsa, OK 74120
12140 E. 96th St.
Owasso, OK 74055
Open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner.
About the Author: Brian Schwartz
Born in NYC, age 0, on my birthday. College in Oxford at age 16. Law School in New Haven, Conn. 6 years travel in Africa and Asia. Haven’t done much lately. Still, I’m the only Tulsa member of the little-known Omega Society. www.theomegasociety.com
I speak enough Chinese to order food not on any English menu. Spanish French Italian too (not fluently but food-ently) My favorite restaurant is Jean-Georges in New York. But those NYC chefs would sell their soul to get the produce available from the farms around Inola.
“A writer writes alone. His words tumble forth from a magical inner void that is mysterious even to himself, and that no one else can enter.” And yet, the most important thing to me the writer is YOU. Without you to hear them, my words are worth less than silence.