Fried pies

New York City, ever on the cusp of thelatest pizza innovations, has resurrectedan old Italian favorite: fried pies. Twopizzerias, Forcella (forcellaeatery.com),with two locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan,and PizzArte (pizzarteny.com) inManhattan, are offering a few options forthose who want to go a step beyond thetraditional bake. “Fried pizza is actuallyvery new in New York City,” says DarioCipollaro de L’ero, who owns Pizz-Artewith Bruno Cilio. “PizzArte serves Montanarapizza, which is first lightly friedfor about a minute, then briefly baked inthe wood-fired oven. The pizza is crispywith a soft interior—a different texturethan pizza that’s only baked—and completelygreaseless, so it can be eaten withone’s hands, just as they do in Naples.”

Cipollaro de L’ero explains that theMontanara comes from the poorest areasof Naples, where legend has it thatthe wives of pizzaioli would make thedish using leftover pizza dough madeby their husbands. Not surprisingly, theMontanara continues the Naples traditionof simplicity; it’s topped with onlytomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan andbasil. PizzArte’s menu also features twodeep-fried calzones—one with ricotta,mozzarella, San Marzano tomatoes andNeapolitan Salami, and another with escarole,pine nuts, anchovies and Gaeta olives. “The Montanara is a great seller; people are always curious about the fried items,”says Cipollaro de L’ero. “Americans love it because it’s really light. There’s no greasy effect—it’s just a bit crispier.”

At Forcella, award-winning Neapolitan pizzaiolo Giulio Adriani devotes a section of his menu to “Pizze Fritte,” which includesa Montanara and two fried calzones: Ripieno Classico, with tomato, sopressata, smoked mozzarella and ricotta, and Ripieno allaScarola, with escarole, olives, capers and anchovies. “The dough doesn’t absorb the oil because I developed a special dough recipefor these pizzas, and the result is a taste like you would get with a zeppole,” says Adriani. “The Montanara is my best-selling pizza,so it’s been a great success.”

And along with customer satisfaction comes media coverage: The pizzerias’ fried pies have been mentioned in The New YorkTimes, The Village Voice, New York magazine and The Wall Street Journal. We suspect that, with all of the attention, imitatorswill quickly sprout up—in the pizza capital of New York and perhaps eventually across the country