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Thursday, March 3,2011

Frasca's new sister pizzeria shines

By Clay Fong

 

 

 

If I’ve learned anything from the recent proliferation of high-end pizza eateries in Boulder, it’s that these aren’t the cheesy parlors of my childhood. No straw hat-doffing servers or coin-operated mechanical pony rides here. You won’t find either at the new Pizzeria Locale, the eagerly anticipated Naples-influenced establishment from the same folks that brought you the celebrated Frasca.

Pizzeria Locale’s menu consists of salads, contorni (side dishes), desserts and pizzas. Pies range in price from $9 for a basic Marinara to $18 for a deluxe version featuring prosciutto and arugula, with a $5 upcharge for a gluten-free crust. While prices are not necessarily cheap, the friendly and informative service is more aligned with a pricier spot, although this attentiveness might not work well for a moody introvert.

Pal Alex and I savored the ambience, done up in contemporary grays set off by vibrant photographs of Italian street scenes. Hardworking chefs are constantly in motion at the wood-fired oven, adroitly kneading dough, plucking oregano off stems, and snapping pizzas off the peel and into the fire.

For starters, we had $1.50 arrancini, piping-hot fried spheres of rich and decadent risotto swirled with mozzarella. Less indulgent, but equally satisfying, was a $5 serving of verdure miste consisting of roasted eggplant, peppers and squash. Just the right amount of olive oil complemented these fine vegetables, while contributing to a sensual, velvety, texture.

 

Being both a vegetarian and traditionalist, Alex ordered the $12 Margherita pizza. This pie simply con sists of ingredients paralleling the shades of the Italian tricolor: buffalo mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil. The minimalistic nature of this pizza demands that each ingredient perfectly complement the others. Locale’s pie rises to the occasion, with just the right amount of fresh basil and tangy tomato brightly contrasting with the wine-like complexity of the cheese.

My choice was the $12 Campagnola pie, topped not with bicycle parts, but with anchovy, capers, tomato and garlic. True to its rustic namesake, this pizza possessed a hearty flavor, unsurprising since the toppings are essentially identical to that of my favorite pasta sauce, puttanesca. The brininess of the anchovy nicely balanced the mellowed pungency of roast garlic, with the capers providing additional depth. While I’m a fan of crisp crust, I’ll admit that Locale’s is slowly converting me to more bready interpretations. The crust had the best attributes of the crisp and the bready, with a whisper of crunch and a pleasing tenderness.

For dessert, we enjoyed the $6 Cassata, a chocolate cake filled with sweet ricotta and candied fruit. The cheese and fruit filling successfully evoked the old-school flavors of the bakeries of San Francisco’s North Beach. The cocoa flavor didn’t overwhelm (but chocolate fans will still enjoy it), a wise choice given the delicacy of the fillings. I was so enamored with this sweet, it will take a fair amount of arm-twisting for me to order another dessert on future visits.

Pizzeria Locale will undoubtedly remain a hot spot for a long time, and for many, myself included, the pizza here will rank among the best they’ve ever tasted. The combination of price, service and quality is unbeatable. The reality lives up to, if not exceeds, the promise of Frasca’s illustrious pedigree, even if there aren’t any coin-operated pony rides.

Clay’s Obscurity Corner Of the country

The word “campagnola” means “of the country.” It’s no surprise, then, that the hearty ingredients of this pizza are worthy of someone toiling in the fields. A related family name is Campagnolo, which holds special significance for those toiling on bicycles, as Campagnolo is one of the leading manufacturers of bicycle components. Founder Tullio Campagnolo invented the quick-release skewer, leading to several decades of cycling enthusiasts wondering if they’ve correctly tightened this vital piece of bike equipment. While Campy is best known for its racing bicycle gear, they’ve also manufactured wheels for the great Italian automotive marques Lamborghini and Ferrari.

Pizzeria Locale 1730 Pearl St., Boulder 303-442-3003

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