Saturday, April 17, 2010

Just a Friday Night: Pizza and Wine (but special!)

We finally made it out to Il Cane Rosso last Friday night for the first night of celebration for significant birthday for my wife Susan. We started with a trip to Love Field to pick up our eldest son Travis (her first surprise of the weekend) and then onto the pizza.

Il Cane Rosso is a guerrilla attack on Dallas' notions of pizza started by Jay Jerrier. Jay had a wood-burning oven made in Italy and then had it mounted on a trailer so he can pull it from location to location. Having a really big party? Give him a call. 

Three nights a week, he sets up in the parking lot front of the Chocolate Angel at Preston and Forest in North Dallas and uses their dining room. Voila! Table Service. And best of all: NO LIQUOR LICENSE!!! They totally encourage BYOB as long as you don't linger at your table while people are waiting. (Just kinda not in the spirit of the place...) Pizzas are one size and are strictly Neopolitan.

Now Travis has spent the last few years in Brooklyn conducting intense investigations into the state of Pizza in New York City and qualifies as an expert. As he perused the list of pies, he noticed many references to New York pizza culture. Notably Paulie Gee (noted fanatic who just opened his own place.) So why was I taking Travis to eat pizza in Dallas, of all places? Because Il Cane Rosso is getting serious notice on NYC pizza blogs. Check out the dialogue between Jay and Paulie here on Slice, a most influential NYC blog.

The place was hopping, but service was friendly and welcoming. We ordered a series of pies, starting with basic tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil and then moving on to artichokes and mushrooms. We finished with the Super Mario, featuring the chef's choice of ingredients, usually involving multiple meats and usually spicy. All the pies were spot-on. Very correct and quite delicious!

The oven is wood fired, and gets to 900 degrees. The thin pies cook in around two minutes which gives some char to the crust and melts the cheese. There's not a lot of bulky, stringy masses of cheesy glop to hold  the heat, so they cool quickly and it's a rush to eat the pie while it's still hot. Tough to do! Everyone wants to talk about how good they are, but there is no time. The pies came quickly, allowing just enough time to have a little wine, savor what you just ate and get ready to move on.

Oh. The wine. Yes we did have a bottle of wine. The 2007 Rosso di Montalcino from one of my favorite producers, Casanova di Neri. I posted a note about the Brunello in February. The Rosso is all Sangiovese and usually comes from younger vines and from vineyards not used in the main estate wines. Required aging is just a year and the wines, while complex, are not as austere and structured as the Brunello's. Still, the wine's savory dark cherries with hints of soy punctuated the cheeses, toppings and the char of the crust and primed the anticipation of the next pie.

Until the middle of the third pie, when we started to slow down. But not much, no. We finished.

Travis had noticed bags of marshmallows under the table of ingredients. Turns out the dessert pizza is a S'mores Calzone. Good not-too-sweet chocolate folded with marshmallows inside a pizza crust and baked until slightly charred and gooey. And yes. It was every big as good as it sounds.

At the end of the evening, our waitress had mentioned to Jay that he had a customer who had been to Paulie Gee's in Brooklyn, so Jay came over and we had a good visit after dinner. Even if there had been doubts, they were erased. This guy is serious about his pizza. Thanks for a great evening.

I'm sorry, the overall rush was so great I forgot to take pictures. What you see was taken from the Il Canne Rosso Facebook page. Check 'em out!

But come by the store. I'll fix you up with some good Italian wine before you go!

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