This time Carlo Macchi takes the stand.
The courageous but promising Man from Poggibonsi challenges his Neapolitan analog on his turf – pizza! – and given the review and the references, gets away with it for once. Though to call the rim of the tasty food a “cornice” does give pause…
I can already hear Luciano Pignataro’s cries: “A good Neapolitan pizza in the heart of Chianti, surrounded by cypresses and Sangiovese? Never! An anathema!”
I will therefore start by trying to reassure our pizzologist and with him all those who bent their noses at the thought that one could eat a good pizza among the wild boar and vineyards of Chianti.
I swear that I didn’t believe it possible either, and only after Sandro Bosticco and Gianpaolo Giacomelli sang the place’s praises did I venture forth with my (most demanding) wife for a road test, as it were.
And what exactly are we talking about?
I do have experience with good Neapolitan pizza, understood not as a collection of ingredients but rather how they are worked. Double rising of the dough over close to two days, wood burning oven to yield a soft pizza with a high rim that could be folded in half or even in quarters to be eaten on the street.
And every now and again I find myself eating those thin crunchy things they call pizza elsewhere, which may even be tasty, but are light years from the true Pizza Napoletana.
Assuming we’re in agreement, we come to step two, in other words the result, which depends upon the artistry of the pizzaiolo and – obviously – the ingredients. And having said this, let’s take stock of the situation. We’re in the heart of Chianti Classico, in a beautiful hilltop town at an altitude of 400 meters that offers amazing views in all directions.
It’s no surprise that the restaurant should have a summer terrace whose view alone is worth the price of the pizza (and perhaps a fish-based dinner). But man does not live by pizza alone, and this restaurant also specializes in fish and traditional Chiantigian dishes. Nor does the hall look like a pizzeria: the tables, chairs and settings, which have a minimalist feel, are far removed from the “simple” style one finds in many pizzerie and restaurants, in Chianti and elsewhere.
What leads one to guess that pizza is one of their specialties is the wood-fired oven and the space for the pizzaiolo, to the left as one enters, dominating the hall. This is the Kingdom of Giovanni, who, with Luigi, opened the restaurant in 2006, after about 15 years of a varity of experiences, which were positive from an aesthetic standpoint, considering that the hall is decorated nice paintings by a number of artists, which are rotated regularly.
But you’re waiting for me to talk about pizza. But before I do, let me say that the wine list is good, with a more ample selection than they have of beers.
And now pizza. On cannot but test with a Margherita: We order and in a couple of minutes (both times we went) two abundant pizzas arrive, with high soft rims, thanks to a very tasty (and subsequently highly digestible) dough that was perfectly risen. Good ingredients, perfectly cooked and tremendous satisfaction for the price (we’re in Chianti!), not more than 10-12 Euros for a pizza and a beer.
At this point Luciano Pignataro wil start to howl again, but I’ll forge ahead regardless! He’s officially invited to eat a pizza at the Palazzo Pretorio, and if he’s not satisfied I’ll eat my hat!
Ristorante Pizzeria Palazzo Pretorio
Via del Giglio 26, San Donato in Poggio (FI)
Tel. 055 8072928