I have been reading all the chatter about Pizzology both before and after it opened, particularly on twitter, and have been intrigued to try it naturally. Pizzology is the new project of Chef Neal Brown formerly of L’explorateur (which was one of my favorite restaurants in Indy when it was open). This is a totally different concept (pizza), in a totally different land (Carmel) and although pizza isn’t something that gets me terribly excited, I figured if some place could pull it off, it would be here.
So these pizzas are cooked in an 800 degree wood burning oven –there are pizzas with red sauce (rossa) and pizzas without sauce (bianca). They are all the same size (about 13 inches). There are several set pizza combinations or you can make your own from a list of ingredients. Certainly more cost effective to go with one of the house combos though. There are also several salads as well, and about 6 kinds of pastas and a risotto of the day. (Can I just say again how much I love that the pastas are offered in half order and full orders? Because if I was faced with a full order, I would be overwhelmed, but the half orders are a really nice size).
It was a cold night, but we wanted a salad, so we started with the warm spinach salad. It was fresh spinach with basil, capers, fairly large dices of pancetta and a poached egg on top. The dressing was a warm pancetta and red wine vinaigrette. I really enjoyed it—I thought the flavors were great, and I loved the addition of the poached egg to add even more richness. (Ok, maybe a poached egg on just about anything makes me happy—I love a good egg) But the capers and the dressing (which was tossed with the salad, hallelujah) balanced it with the right amount of acidity. Most of the capers and pancetta sunk to the bottom of the salad though, so you had to make sure to spoon them all out to make sure you got all the flavors. I really enjoyed the salad, although hubby wasn’t as excited about it. He liked it, but he didn’t love it. I saw several of the chop salads come out as well—they looked nice and also come in a half order size, which is nice if you don’t want to split with someone.
So originally we were going to get two pizzas, one red and one white, but once we saw how large they were, we changed our minds and just added a half order of one of the pastas. So we went with the mushroom pizza, which was red sauce, wood roasted wild mushrooms, olives and cacciacavallo, which is a type of cheese, made in a style similar to mozzarella (sorry about the pic, it was my phone). The cheese was fairly mild in taste, but was good with the pizza. The only disappointment was the mushroom topping. They tasted good, but the mushrooms were pretty sparse (there was one piece that just had one 'shroom on it. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like an over-topped pizza, but I sort of envisioned a mixture of several types of mushrooms and a few more of them—I am not sure that there was anything other than diced portabellas on there, but I could be wrong. The olives were very good, and were cut into at least half, which I liked because you didn’t get too much in one bite, and they were strong cured olives, not the flavorless canned black olives you see on most pizzas.
The best thing about this pizza though, clearly, was the crust. The menu touts that it is made with wild yeast, spring water and Caputo Pizzeria “00” flour. I am not exactly sure how all that translates into good dough, but man, it does. The crust is thin, but not so thin that you don’t get a bit of the flavor with every bite. It is crispy on the edges, and still nice and chewy on the inside. Seriously, I can see why so many people were ordering breadsticks (I am assuming they are made with the same dough). I think my favorite part of the meal was taking the crust from the edges of the pizza and dipping it into the leftover sauce from the pasta we got. I could eat that for days.
Speaking of the pasta, we had the penne with artichoke, prosciutto, and olives. Hubby thought this was amazing. (“This pasta freakin’ rocks!”). I thought it was good—the artichokes were roasted (they are clearly making good use of that wood burning oven) and they make most of the cured meats in house I believe. The prosciutto was nice—and more of those olives—yum. I think some of the pasta is freshly made, but not the penne I don’t think. The sauce on it was not a heavy sauce, nice garlic-y olive oil type sauce that turned a bit creamy with the cheese on top. Like I said, dipping my crusts in the sauce at the bottom of the bowl was my favorite part of the meal.
I will certainly go back, and apparently a lot of people feel the same way. At just after 6 on a Wednesday night with the snow and cold weather, nearly every table was taken. We didn’t have to wait, but got one of the last tables. And they were turning tables the whole time we were there.
They have a great Italian wine list as well, with slightly more unusual wines—and the pours by the glass are generous the first go round, which is unusual in most places (you know how they always give you smaller pour on the first glass to make sure you order the second one, and then they give you a decent glass?). But not here. Both glasses were generous and there is a nice selection by the glass.
Next time I really want to try the white pizza with the clams…for sure. Or maybe one of my own combos with an egg on top—that was one of my favorite things in Italy. Or maybe those fritters….
13190 Hazel Dell Parkway
Carmel, IN 46032