Sunday, September 10, 2006
Al Volo Pizza
The search is on. Pizza has been found and consumed. Prior to our expedition north, Brendan and I made a stop over in the Mt. Eden area to check out this punk-feminist comic book shop, Cherry Bomb. While meandering over in that direction, we came across a nice little corner pizzeria by the name of Al Volo. The menu, which was clearly visible through the large windows, listed some pretty traditional pies: a margherita, a marinera, and a napoli among others. Under the ingredients for their eponymous pizza they even specified that the mozzarella was buffalo mozzarella. And what was that on the wall? Yes, it was a history of pizza, describing its nebulous origins up through our favorite tale of the Queen Margherita declaring the pizza that displayed the colors of the Italian flag (the white of the cheese, red of the tomato, and green basil) as her favorite.
Brendan and I returned promptly at 5:00 just after it opened for a sample of what they had to offer. We ordered a margherita (pictured), an Al Volo (sauce, buffalo mozzarella, fresh cherry tomatoes, roquette, and olive oil), and we topped it off with a marinara. The pizzas were classic neapolitan pies--extra thin crust, measuring about 12" in diameter. According to the pizzaiolo, the oven ran on native manuka wood and burned somewhere between 300 and 400 degrees Centigrade (roughly 575 F to 750 F). The pies only were in the oven for two or three minutes before they were done. The crusts were crisp, if a little flimsy due to their thinness. However, the sauce was somewhat bland. This may have been related to the kind of tomatoes used (I couldn't say for sure), but it also suffered from an apparent lack of any seasoning. The difference between the cow and buffalo mozzarella was suprisingly clear when sampling them side by side with the buffalo possessing distinctive tang and a creamier texture. Olive oil proved to be an excellent addition to the Al Volo pie, while basil was key for the margherita, though it probably could've used a few more leaves. The marinara pie was a nice change of pace after consuming all that cheese, but I would probably not order it again given the lack of character of the sauce and myriad options on the menu--42 to be precise, even if I would only consider a quarter of them actual pizzas (I'm sorry, but tuna and bacon do not belong on pizza).
All in all, it was a solid entry in the great pizza race. It probably wouldn't make my top 10, but it was certainly as good as 2 Amys and maybe as good as John's of Bleecker. If nothing else, this pizza gives me hope for the rest of my stay here. I'll not go pizza-less into the night.
More reviews of Al Volo here and here
27 Mt Eden Rd
09 302 2500