A conversation I had with a friend recently had me thinking: His claim was that, despite the proliferation of coal-fired and gourmet pizza joints, the great majority of restaurant pies falls squarely in the "average" category. "About 85 percent of the time," he instructed, "one pizza is really no better than another."
The other 15 percent? "Ten percent is purely bad." That math leaves only 5 percent of the pizza as exceptional.
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I tried to test that theory this week by visiting two newish gourmet pizzerias in Palm Beach County. Pizzeria Oceano uses local and artisan ingredients to craft its small-batch, wood-fired pies. Corelino's Coal-Fired Pizza & Cucina follows closely the coal-fired mold, with a strong adherence to tradition. Both have a lot to offer, but only one of those pizza places truly falls into that 5 percent category.
Find out which in this week's Dish review, online later today. For now, an excerpt.
It came to the table as thin as a sheet of poster board, its steaming-hot top scattered with a thin layer of leafy local spinach cooked just to wilting. The white pie had no sauce either -- just mozzarella, garlic, and the most powerful squirt of sunshine-bright lemon juice that tasted like it had been condensed by the oven's heat. We took a bite and nodded at each other in approval. It was pizza perfection.
"And the crust," Eric said as he took a bite. "Look at this." He grabbed a slice by the charred crust and held it aloft. The dough was so perfectly cooked, it held straight up, like a flag in the wind.