Life is uncertain: eat dessert first. Does anyone know who said that? It was apparently an American writer named Ernestine Ulmer. I actually just looked that up, because I didn’t know.
Today’s post most certainly involves eating dessert first, a practice that I whole-heartedly support. I also support eating dessert last. First AND last would be best, I think.
While in Rome, Marmo kept going on and on and on about a bakery called Antico Forno Roscioli. It got kind of annoying, so I had to take her there. Then, once we got there, she kept going on and on and on about this particular pastry, ventagli, which means “fans” in Italian. So we had to eat one.
The sign lodged in the ventagli says “no eggs, no milk” so I can only assume that means one thing: BUTTER. Also: SUGAR. As for taste, a few words come to mind: HOLY %^$& that’s good!
Honestly, I was a little skeptical when Marmo was going on and on about ventagli. It really didn’t look that special to me. I like desserts and pastries that I can sink my teeth into. This one looked like it was going flake all over me, leaving me with very unsatisfying bites.
I was wrong. Proven wrong by a pastry is really not all that bad, folks.
This little “fan” was surprisingly hearty. It had a nice snap upon biting into it, and the layers, rather than being a flaky mess, really hung together making it more dense than it appeared (a good thing). As you may note from the photo above, the sugar coating looks intense, but honestly, this was not a sickly sweet dessert. The balance of sugar-to-pastry was quite good, and I wouldn’t have changed a thing in that regard.
Antico Forno Roscioli stocked a number of other freshly baked items, including pizza in the Roman style. I really liked those long ones shown in the above photo, but I have no idea how you go about baking such a monstrosity. However, for pizza I wanted to go to a real Roman pizzeria. I was going on and on and on about it. I think it was annoying.
So Marmo took me to Monte Carlo Pizzeria, where we sampled two beauties: the Margherita and the Fiori di Zucca (squash flower).
Pardon this PIZZA TANGENT: Roman pizza is characterized by an especially thin and crispy crust. The use of a pizza stone when baking this type of pizza is imperative as the crust really needs even heating from the bottom. The crust should have some give to it, like a thin bread. It shouldn’t crumble or have the texture and consistency of a cracker.
In terms of preference I’m not sure where I stand: Neopolitan Style or Roman Style. I like both, but if pressed, I may veer towards Naples. I am Neopolitan, after all…Feel free to leave your comments about your pizza preference!
Onto the Margherita:
You can clearly see the thin crust in the above photos. However, the pizza doesn’t stay rigid, but is a bit bendy (like bread). The taste was excellent. Pure crushed tomatoes combined with a thin, even layer of mozzarella cheese. I did find it interesting that there was no basil. I do love basil. I also loved the bubbles that formed around the outer crust (you can see this well in the top photo). Some of these bubbles got nice and charred, and really gave the pizza a kick.
Next up, squash flowers:
As I may have mentioned, I have become a bit obsessed with these flowers. I wanted them on everything while I was in Italy. This combination of the squash flower and lightly-cheesed pizza was quite good. The flowers have a very mild taste, almost buttery. This soft, buttery flavor compliments the salt of the mozzarella cheese. As you can see, this pie also had a nice char going on around the edges, which gave it a slightly smoky taste. Definitely a winner.
Overall, both of the pies were very light. It was quite easy to eat an entire pie and still have some room left over for dessert (again). Did I hear someone say gelato? This is both because of the thin crust, and also the light, even-handed application of the toppings.
I’m thinking this style of pizza would be a great appetizer at a party, cut into small pieces. I’m going to try out a thin crust in the laboratorio semi-moderno (test kitchen) soon for you all.
In the meantime….I did hear someone say gelato?! Let’s have some:
A few gelaterias to keep in mind, should you find yourself in Rome or Orvieto:
San Crispino, Rome
Gelateria Pasqualetti, Orvieto