Tag Archive for pizza

Little Star Pizza

Our waitress rushing out, concerned my husband left his bag behind. Thanks!

Our waitress rushing out, concerned my husband left his bag behind. Thanks!

Little Star is a small gourmet-pizza chain with three outlets in San Francisco. We chose it for an early dinner on a Saturday afternoon because it had the best ratings for open eateries in that neck of the Mission at that time, aside from the also-appealing arepas spot across the street.

At 3 pm, the place was empty, which is to be expected for most establishments. The menu is tiny, roughly five types each of deep dish and thin crust pizzas and about the same amount of appetizers and salads. Those pizzas come in small 9” and large 12” only, though personal pan pizzas are available at lunch for a reasonable price.

The color palette was cool tones, which I like, and the small bar at the entrance was especially cute. Medium-to-dark woods, silver tables, brick and sleet gray walls.

We started out with the goddess salad, little gems lettuce with creamy pesto dressing, chives, and toasted almonds.

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Pizzeria Toro

Pizzeria Toro
105 E. Chapel Hill St.
Five Points, Durham
Website
$12 to 1$16
11 am to 11 pm daily

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Pizzeria Toro is an alluring and exciting gourmet pizza restaurant. I am jealous of downtown Durham residents who have this gem down the block.  At first look, the main dining room appears to be an office conference room with light brown, wooden, spinning chairs and a long, central table, which may be off-putting for some. But the cavernous, open-air pizza oven and kitchen dominate and bring a warm, casual vibe to the space. It’s a big city restaurant that successfully fosters a neighborhood feel. I want to spend whole nights there. I really do.

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Pizzeria Toro 02

Even the dish towels used as napkins contribute to that relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. And any restaurant playing independent rock instead of contemporary anything gets bonus points. There is a darker bar adjacent to the dining room space, but I never went in.

There are a few more cocktail combinations at Pizzeria Toro than there are appetizer or salad choices, which is a plus in my book. I decided on the Horsefeather made with rye whiskey, Blenheim’s “Old #3 Hot” ginger ale, and orange bitters served on the rocks in a tall glass.

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Going down like cinnamon candy, the drink had plenty of heat, great complexity from the bitters, and a touch of sweetness from the ale that made for a fabulous concoction. I nursed it throughout the meal, and it was good to the last drop, which is rare for an iced drink.

My husband and I shared a salad, pizza, and dessert. The salad was shaved chicory, fennel, Chapel Hill Creamery’s Calvander cheese, and truffle.

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This is when I again remark that I have no idea what truffle contributes to a dish. I have no idea if I tasted it at all. But the rest of the salad was crisp, intriguing, and fun to eat if too bitter overall. The Calvander gave the dish a fair bit of creaminess to dilute the bitter vegetables’ flavors, but it wasn’t entirely successful. I blame that on the tangy vinaigrette. Add a little cream to that, and this dish would soar.

I had no such concerns with the pizza.

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We chose the spicy lamb meatball pizza with rapini and Cacia di Roma sheep’s cheese. The thin crust was coated in something like semolina to give it grit, attractively bubbly all around, and charred on the edges. The whole pizza was shiny with that appetizing grease sheen. You know what I mean, when it’s enough to pull you in but not enough to gross you out. In other words, probably brushed with olive oil before baking. The meatballs fall apart at the slightest jostling and melt away fast in your mouth. Perhaps the roasted whole garlic cloves are a bit much, but that’s me pulling critique out of my ass. It’s a great pizza.

Dessert was just as satisfying. We had a pear crostada with clobber and caramel.

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Clobber, based on our devouring of the dessert, is that lemon curd and clotted cream hybrid dolloped on the side. The pastry was baked perfectly, and all the ingredients were top-notch. I especially liked the note of savoriness the basil sprinkle added.

Other than finding the salad a touch too bitter, our meal at Pizzeria Toro was amazing and I didn’t even try the antipasti or special ham charcuterie. I am now accepting invitations to be anyone’s dinner companion there in the future. I can’t think of a better way to while away the evening in Durham.

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Pizzeria Toro on Urbanspoon

Reviewed 6 Feb 13.

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Pie Pushers

Pie Pushers
On the go in Durham
Website
$3–$4 per slice
$6–$18 per pie

My thoughts on Pie Pushers, a mobile pizza restaurant, went up at Carpe Durham a couple of weeks ago, but I haven’t had a chance to publish them here yet. I tried them out during the Cookery’s open house, waiting in line for at least half an hour—-I was not alone in wanting to sample their food.  It almost goes without saying these days that they get as many of their ingredients as they can from NC farmers, ensuring fresh toppings whenever possible. They offer pizza by the slice or by the whole pie with a range of intriguing ingredient combinations.

The by-the-slice options change daily, but you can order any whole pizza you’d like to try including simple cheese or pepperoni ones. They also have a house salad and garlic knots-—those knots were going fast that evening! I didn’t try one, however. I did have two slices, starting with a pepperoni to try out their basic pie.

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