Carolina's on My Mind

There's more than one way to skin a recession: Coal Pizza

Four other versions were good too: the Procida, a thick layer of creamy ricotta and mozzarella overlaid with slices of meatball, generous sheets of prosciutto, and a post-oven scattering of Parmesan and basil; a sauceless Napoli ($17.50) with fresh sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil; the Capri ($18.50) glistening with sautéed eggplant slices, black olives, mozz, and fresh mushrooms; and a Vesuvio ($18.50) with multicolored roast peppers, mozz, and crumbly sausage. Or make up your own from some combination of pepperoni, artichoke hearts, arugula, sun-dried tomatoes, and extra cheese at $2 to $2.50 per ingredient.

Enrico's chopped salad ($8.50, easily feeds two) achieves perfect balance and acidity with its mix of salami, Gorgonzola, mixed greens, roasted peppers, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and black olives. It's totally addictive. Nonna Dora polpettone (Enrico's grandma Dora's meatballs, an appetizer at $9.95) are giant-sized, dense as black holes, set in a pool of that excellent pomodoro sauce, and generous enough to split if you happen to be dining with somebody who isn't a selfish pig. Baked clams oreganata ($9.95), littlenecks dusted with bread crumbs and herbs and served piping hot with a wedge of lemon, are swoon-inducing. The appetizers arrive with a cone of warm, coal-oven-baked bread sticks, a bottle of Colevita olive oil, and one of balsamic vinegar.

All this is made to be washed down with Italian wine, and Carolina's has an impressive, fairly priced list by the bottle or quartino. The quartinos, about two glasses' worth, are a particularly good deal — I had a sharp and fruity young Sangiovese for $11 — and there are Chiantis, Amarones and baby Amarones, pinot grigios and Chardonnays from Italy, as well as a respectable selection of California wines.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Carolina's Coal Fired Pizza & Pasta

9 SE Seventh Ave.
Delray Beach, FL 33483

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Delray Beach

Details

Carolina's Coal Fired Pizza & Pasta, 9 SE Seventh Ave., Delray Beach. Open Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. till 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11:30 a.m. till 11 p.m. Call 561-278-1913.

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I'm sorry to say I have yet to try the pastas, priced from $12.95 to $15.95. Among them are Dora's meatballs with spaghetti, a homemade parpardelle Bolognese, linguine puttanesca, handmade ravioli, and orecchiette with sausage and broccoli rabe. For lunch, you can order paninis too.

The reception by staff and owner was easy and friendly. We waited a long time for our pizzas on a busy Friday night, but as they were plying us with plates of steaming, deeply tasty appetizers, and quartinos of wine, the delay felt more like a piece of unexpected luck than a hassle. It's getting to the point that you can find a Neapolitan pie to rival the best of New York down here without hardly having to spin around and say the word mozzarella. And even with the glut of coal-fired ovens, if there ever were a bona fide hedge against failure in the restaurant biz, it's a damned fine pizza.

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