It had been a while since I last tried a pizza at La Cage, which is no longer “Aux Sports” as the Waffler nation well knows. In fact, pizza wasn’t on the menu for a while, although they did have flatbreads on the menu a while ago. Not the same dough, so not the same, though.
Now available in some locations, a selection of Neapolitan pizza. I was intrigued, because unlike before, they now have a dedicated pizza oven in select locations. Options include Prosciutto & Arugula; Bacon, Sausage & Onion; Margherita; Italian Sausages. I decided to go ahead and order the Margherita.
Margherita pizza is a traditional culinary specialty said to have originated in Naples, Italy. Very popular for its simplicity, this napoletana pizza is topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil. The colors of these three ingredients are meant to represent the Italian flag. It seems to have been first described, in 1830, by Riccio in the book Napoli, contorni e dintorni.
So if it is so simple, why is it so popular? If simplicity is the base, the real secret of a Margherita pizza lies in the use of high quality ingredients. You want a very fresh, fairly raw pizza sauce, made with San Marzano tomatoes. You want real fresh mozzarella di Buffala, coming in balls, not the industrial blocks. And of course, the freshest of basil, sweet with large leaves.
The pizza was served and it looked already much better than the old ones.
Starting with the crust, which is a far superior one to the previous recipie they used. Here was an actual pizza crust, with the charred bubbles from the super hot pizza oven. A nice crisp on the outside and a soft, chewy, bready mouthful on the edge. Good stuff.
The mozza was nice and goey, as opposed to stretchy. For the cheese, they use Fior di latte (literally “milk flower” ), a mozzarella-style cheese made from cow’s milk, originating from Campania and Puglia in Italy. It was sweet, rich and had a creamy feel. On top, plenty of basil, which is much better than the silly habit some have to put one leaf per quarter.
The tomato sauce was fresh and tangy, very simple but well done. The problem, however, was with distribution. Perhaps it was a spreading issue or a quantity problem. Or more likely, it is because of the shape of the plate, slightly slopping towards the middle. A fresh tomato sauce like this, by nature, is not very thick. Therefore, the sauce (and the cheese, somewhat) was pooled in the middle of the plate, which made the crust soggy. Disapointing, considering its quality.
Nevertheless, this was a pretty good effort.