Restaurant Review – July 2007

Napa Valley Marketplace Magazine Restaurant Review July 2007

Pizza Azzuro

Pizza Azzurro
By “The Elusive Epicurean”

I am about to confess something shocking and terrible. You will probably never think of me in the same way again. I will forever be suspect in your mind. And while you may never be able to come to terms with what I am about to tell you, please remember that I have begun our relationship with honesty and truth. I have never lied to you, but have boldly told you my deepest, darkest culinary secret: I do not like pizza.

Mind you, I don’t hate pizza. Most people I know love it. I’ll eat it if that’s what’s on offer, but the words “sausage and pepperoni” don’t make my heart flutter. As a child, I was notorious for eating only the naked crust after scraping off all the toppings. While I’m no longer so antagonistic towards my pizza, I can’t say that our relationship has taken a dramatic turn. I simply don’t ever crave pizza. I do, however, crave Pizza Azzurro. Painfully often.

Since my need must be sated frequently, it is fortunate that Pizza Azzurro is as kind on my budget as it is on my tongue, so I have yet to suffer any withdrawal pains. (It’s also on my way home from work. Ahhh, the temptation.)

I love everything here, and yes, that includes the pizza. There’s the Verde, with Spinach, Garlic, Chilies and Ricotta ($11.50). The Melanzane is topped with nicely roasted Eggplant, Peppers, Tomato Sauce, Oregano and Parmesan ($11.50). If sausage is an absolute must for you, there’s the Salsiccia, topped with Fennel Sausage, Red Onion, Tomato Sauce and Mozzarella ($12.95).

Deserving a special commendation is the deliciously rich Bianco, with Sweet Onions, Gorgonzola, and Rosemary ($11.50). You won’t need dessert. I suggest splitting it with a friend and pairing it with a salad, such as the Arugula & Endive with Creamy Lemon Dressing, Parmesan and Toasted Pine Nuts ($8.95).

Embrace these made-to-order pizzas with thin crusts and flavorful, fresh toppings. Get yourself a beer or a glass of wine, and dig in. You’ll be happy.

There are plenty of options for the pizza-phobic among you, too. I highly recommend the “Little Ear” Pasta, with Spinach, Garlic and Calabrian Chilies ($10.50). Or choose from the excellent selection of salads. With the heat of summer upon us, nothing sounds better than the salad of Romaine, Albacore Tuna, Marinated Chickpeas, and Cucumbers with Citrus Dressing ($9.95).

My personal lunch favorite is the Caesar Manciata ($10.50), which, in lieu of croutons, is served on top of a thin, just-baked flatbread slathered with olive oil, parmesan and garlic, and which the menu exhorts you to “fold and eat like a sandwich!” Or, like me, you can cheat and use a fork. The Manciata is also available as a Spinach Salad with Roasted Peppers, Mozzarella and Citrus Dressing ($10.50). One day perhaps I’ll be seduced away from the Caesar. Perhaps.

At the bottom of Pizza Azzurro’s menu, in small but bold type, are written three wise words: Eat More Pie. You really should. If, like me, you’re feeling hungry just about now, head on down to Pizza Azzurro. Or, if you just can’t bear to miss your favorite summer reality show, don’t settle for a TV dinner – order take out!

http://www.napavalleymarketplace.com

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