Readers of my past words may have come to understand that if there's a single style of pizza that I enjoy more than any other, it's Neapolitan-style. I can certainly enjoy a properly executed NYC slice every now and again (and they are few and far between), but there's just no comparison to the glory that is a well executed Neapolitan pizza. So sure, my bias will always be at play when I talk about restaurants that do this well, and I always seek them out.
So when I heard there's Neapolitan-style pizza in Hoboken, to paraphrase Guy Fieri, well I just had to check it out. And I don't mean Grimaldi's, which 1) isn't Neapolitan-style, and 2) isn't very exceptional.
Dozzino is both.
One of the owners was going through some paperwork-looking stuff and told me to sit anywhere. I was very curious about the place, how it came about, what the inspiration was, what the challenges of opening a business in Hoboken were, how business was doing, construction, pizza-making, eating and drinking in general, and we had quite a long and honest discussion, over a bottle of wine I had brought (it's BYO).
By the time I ordered the Margherita we were half a bottle of wine deep. Since the fella was making my pizza and we were still talking, I asked if I could come into the kitchen, and the answer was "of course." I never ask to go into restaurant kitchens unless I know the owner or chef, and at this point I did feel sort of odd standing there with my camera. In some sort of awkward attempt to make what I felt was a weird situation more understandable, I uttered words that I have never uttered before: "I'm like a food blogger, by the way." To which the owner responded with something like "I kinda figured that." Another cook, who was also there and part of our discussion, snickered knowingly.
OK, so the camera and incessant questions were probably a tip-off. More importantly, full disclosure out of the way, and now onto the pizza.
They are using a wood-burning oven with gas-assist at Dozzino. When I first read this a while back, I thought "CHEATING!" But let's face it, it's about the heat, not the fuel. This oven is running pretty damned hot, and the pizza was out in under 2 minutes. I suspect some come out faster than that, depending on the time of day.
Within seconds of loading in the pizza, the crust was puffing up, as if by magic. A sign of a relatively high hydration (water content in the dough), good gluten development, and a hot oven. All good, all correct.
The biggest complaint about Neapolitan-style pizza is that it's soupy. People think this is a flaw, rather than realizing that it's an inherent part of the style. They aren't understanding the product that they are critiquing. It drives me insane. Like people who don't use directionals. Or who think the best place to stop walking is right when they walk in the front door of a supermarket.
I have a hard time understanding why anyone wouldn't enjoy the pizza at Dozzino, yet if you read Yelp reviews, you'll see that many complain (oh they complain about everything for fuck's sake). Dozzino's take on Neapolitan is a pie isn't soupy. The bottom of the crust is perfectly crisp, it is sparsely (properly) topped, and the oven spring makes a beautiful pillowy, crispy crust, kissed with some char. What's not to like?
There's a lot to like about Dozzino.
The ingredients here are top-notch, sourced from local farms and artisanal salumi makers. The owners are passionate about food. They use tumblr to share their daily menu. The website is clean and no-nonsense. They do silly shit like have a pop-up ramen night in the back room, ramen being another passion of the chef. The tables are made from reclaimed wood from the demolition of the old space. There's bocce ball in the back. And most importantly the pizza is excellent.
Dozzino : 534 Adams Street : Hoboken, NJ : 201.656.6561
Disclosure: I was given some samples of salumi and their excellent mascarpone/Nutella crostini gratis.