Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Richmond just got more Pizzalicious!

I want to introduce my pal Melissa to you. She is one pizzalicious babe and I know she will have a lot of great posts and amazing photos to add to this blog. Welcome Melizza! (See what I did there?)  We're so glad to have you on board.

My name is Melissa, and I am a friend of Lauren’s who is going to be contributing to this blog from time to time. I was giddy when she asked me; I hadn't thought about starting my own pizza blog but I am so thrilled to document my adventures on this site!

I never ate pizza until a few years ago, as I was not able to stomach cheese. Thankfully my tastes changed and I’ve been pleased to have some really amazing pizza in Richmond, as well as other parts of the country. I don’t cook, but I love baking, especially bread, so pizza-making came naturally to me. I like to adjust ingredients and rises with the dough to get different flavors and try different temperatures to see what gives me the most pleasing crust.

I recently got married and went to California on my honeymoon where I tried several excellent west coast pizza interpretations. I wrote about it here, mostly for my family who like to ask lots of questions about what I did on my honeymoon.

Richmond has seen a recent influx of wood-fired pizza joints, and since I had a birthday recently, I decided to try two of them, Bellytimber Tavern and Stuzzi.

Belly Timber 01
Bellytimber: 1501 West Main Street Richmond, VA 23220, (804) 592-5592

We went to Bellytimber around 5:45 on Friday and it was nearly empty, which I felt was a bad sign. Also a bad sign: the small beer list. However, the bar, tables and lights are gorgeous and I love the row of fans above the bar which run on a single motor. The oven was a few feet from our table but I never felt warm and the place smelled amazing.

Belly Timber 05
My Margherita

Tim got a plain cheese pie, while PJ ordered a veggie and I got my usual margherita (aka their basil and capers without the capers). The pictures I had seen made the pizza look thick and similar to delivery pie. But it’s SO MUCH BETTER than that. The crust is actually pretty thin—it’s light, chewy and delicious. I liked that the pie was well-seasoned and it was the perfect one-person size (10”) at a very reasonable price ($8). They were very generous with the basil, which I really appreciated.

Belly Timber 06
The Veggie

Belly Timber 03
The upskirt

I will definitely come here again and I can see it being a regular hangout for my friends and I, especially once they shape up their beer list (I recommend they check out Rivermont Pizza in Lynchburg, which has a huge rotating list of micro-brews for $5 a pint). The pizza is solid and might be amongst my favorite red sauce pies in Richmond.

That Sunday my parents took us to Stuzzi. There has been so much buzz and negative chatter about this place I was afraid to go there with anyone, especially my parents who have not had the experience with Neapolitan pizza that PJ and I have.

Stuzzi 01
Stuzzi is pretty inside!
Stuzzi: One North Belmont Richmond, Virginia, 804-308-3294

Let’s get the bad out there: it is really hot in there with the wood stove, it’s insanely crowded, and the owner (?) seemed like kind of a jerk, demanding the hostess give him the phone when she appeared to be handling the customer on the other end just fine. Just like with Bellytimber, the beer list was disappointing, but thinking about it I haven’t ever been to a Neapolitan place with an amazing beer list.

Stuzzi 03
My margherita: the basil was good but sparse

Everyone got either a margherita (me and PJ) or a variation on a margherita (my dad had sausage and my mom had one with olives and goat cheese). I was a little bothered that the pizza was not round like other Neapolitan pizza I’d had and the cornicone looked lumpy and weird.

Stuzzi 04
My dad would like you to know there wasn't enough sausage on this

Stuzzi 05
My mom says they should have cut the olives in half and spread them out

However, I enjoyed the pizza’s absolutely fantastic bright San Marzano sauce and creamy cheese. The crust was fine and I didn’t think that the middle was “soupy” as I read on local food blogs. It was wet like all other similar pizza I have eaten. The cornicone tasted good and the char on the bottom really added to the flavor. I think the only problem was that afterward it felt heavy in my stomach. Motorino in New York City has such a light, puffy cornicone and I was expecting something more like that. Perhaps the dough did not have the right rise time or wasn’t stretched properly—I get the same kind of cornicone at home when I take the dough out of the fridge too late. I did eat the whole thing though!

Stuzzi 06

Since it was my birthday I was given a dessert by our sweet waitress: tiramisu! It is my favorite thing to order from an Italian bakery and I was happy that Stuzzi’s was booze-soaked and authentic.

Stuzzi 02
Tiramisu: big thumbs up!

I will definitely find myself at Bellytimber a lot in the future: I love the cozy vibe, the beautiful d├ęcor, the kind wait staff, as well as the tasty pizza. If I want a Neapolitan pie and don’t feel like driving to 2Amys in DC, Stuzzi (walking distance to my apartment too!) is a perfectly acceptable substitute. *Note* I have been to Bellytimber since my original visit, and I thought the pie was cooked a bit too much. I am sure they are still figuring things out and I will keep going there.

Since I make pizza at home at least once a week, I am going to try to write about it on here, despite my apartment’s lack of natural light. I also like to go on road trips and try local favorites. I post photos of things I make on flickr sometimes and here is the set of photos from these trips.

Thanks to Lauren for asking me to write for Pizzalicious!