Friday, March 5, 2010

"Tuesday," 3/4/10 - Dough

Date: 3/4/10
Restaurant: Dough Pizzeria Napoletano
Location: 6989 Blanco, in the Blanco Junction strip mall close to the North Star mall
Executive Chef: Chef Doug Horn. You can't spell Doug Horn without Dough!

Well I might as well address the thought on everyone's mind: this isn't a Tuesday dinner. It's true. Tavis was on the annual three day field trip with his 6th graders this Tuesday, and I didn't want him to miss out on a potentially excellent dining experience. (I also wanted to be able to taste two peoples' meals instead of being content with my order alone.) So we switched the night and kept the meal. Hence, Dough.

(I might as well warn you now, gentle viewer, the soundtrack for this entry is Homer Simpson's "drooling over food" noise. On loop. Over and over and over. Ahhhh.)

The outside of Dough. Tucked away in a strip mall, it definitely tries to fill the little space it owns. We came in around 6:30, which is later than many entries, and found ourselves in pretty tight quarters all night.

The attractive interior, in which one hopes that one's culinary neighbor showered that day. There were lots of parents with kids--lucky kids!--who were thankfully well-behaved. Outdoor seating looks to be an option though I only saw one table in use outdoors all night. In other words, perhaps not the best romantic location unless you are also romantically involved with everyone adjacent to you. I don't judge. I just eat.

I'm sad that I didn't snap a picture of their gigundo 800 degree+ authentic oven hauled all the way from Italy. It was toasty and awesome. However, it was also constantly in use and concealed by the busy cadre of pizza chefs.

Real quick, let's have a brief lesson on what makes pizza "Neapolitan." This is a closely-guarded certification. You really have to earn it. The guidelines for authentic Neapolitan pizza are:

* The dough must be made of soft-grain flour, water, sea salt, and natural yeast
* The pizza must be a hand-thrown dough
* Cheese must be either Mozzarella di Bufala or Fior-di-latte Mozzarella
* Tomatoes must be Italian Plum Tomatoes
* Fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil must be used on the pizza
* Fresh garlic is used in the no-cheese classic Marinara
* The pizza must be baked in a wood-burning oven with a volcanic stone floor
* Temperatures must be at least 800 degrees or higher and pizzas must cook in 90 seconds

Neat, huh? Now, back to the action. We resume with a memory that will live in my heart forever: the cheese bar. Dough makes their own mozzarella. They have five different offerings currently, and you can select three with some tasty hunks of flatbread for $22. Behold the plate of cheese.

I really might break down and cry, folks. This must be what new parents see when they hold their baby for the first time. Okay, maybe that was a stretch.

Cheese #1: Burricotti. Mozzarella outside, herbed ricotta filling inside. We could've added a sunny-side up egg onto the dish, which I think would have made it unctuous and awesome. This was very surprisingly mild to me; I think Tavis got more flavor from it than I did. Pleasant but not the same WOW factor as its cheesy brethren.

Cheese #2: Fior di latte stracciato. Fior di latte is their non-buffalo mozzarella made in-house. These little medallions were adorned with zucchini ribbons and a generous slice of crispy pancetta, drizzled with a white balsamic reduction. What astounded both of us was the sweetness to this dish. I am guessing there was something in the balsamic reduction that contributed that flavor note. Anyway, this was absolutely divine and we gobbled it like there was no tomorrow.

Cheese #3: Autumn Burrata. House-made mozzarella stuffed with a filling of porcini mushrooms, mascarpone and ricotta cheese, and truffle oil. Around the sides are melted leeks and oak-roasted mushrooms. The outside alone of this cheese made me do a double take. It was so ridiculously flavorful for being a mozzarella. The filling seemed reminiscent of hummus, though that might've just been a textural similarity. The richness of the truffle oil and porcini mushrooms made it really decadent, though it was a far better spread than a standalone bite--the creamy consistency got a little old after awhile. As far as the mushrooms, you'll either love them if you love mushrooms, or wish them away if you're not a huge fan. We had one of both at the table.

I will say that I am ridiculously happy that we ordered this sampler, and I would highly recommend it for all newcomers to Dough, especially those as indecisive and cheese-adoring as myself. However, this plus our pizza kind of was a bit of overload. So in future visits, I will probably take it down a notch, order one cheese appetizer (stracciato, I'm looking at you!) and a pizza, and have just as wonderful a time.

Margherita pizza, the original and authentic. Dough, marinara, basil, and fresh mozzarella. Pizza as God intended, if God were Italian and not lactose-intolerant. Look at the cheese curled around my fork. That's a good sign. Everything about this pizza was fresh, flavorful and perfectly balanced.

The Fontina pizza, which was a white pizza with fontina cheese, caramelized onions and more of the oak-roasted mushrooms. I didn't care for this one as much; the mushrooms got a bit overpowering for me, but I'm not a huge mushroom person. Tavis enjoyed it, which was a surprise since he's normally all about the sauce. (Saucy Tavis!)

The Margherita didn't last long, as you can see.

Our finishing touch, vanilla panna cotta with creme anglaise and dried cherries/raisins in a Marsala wine sauce. Nigella Lawson once said that panna cotta "should have the quiver of a 17th-century courtesan's inner thigh." Words to live by, folks. We both adored this dessert, especially for the tangy, deep contrast provided by the cherries in Marsala. A delicious end, not to be missed.

Returnability: do you even need to ask? Cheese bar, man! Cheese bar! Plus not having to deal with downtown makes this meal even more satisfying. The service was wonderful; despite the crowd, we never felt neglected and our waiter was enthusiastic about talking foodie to us. As was said above, if it's just the two of us dining, we will probably content ourselves with cheese, singular. And I shall be a very happy girl.


Beth G said...

Only in Texas can you get a cheese plate that large :)

WHEN you come to visit us in Chicago remind me to take you to Spacca Napoli, easily the best pizza Eli and I have found outside of Italy.

Megan and Tavis said...

Beth - I was talking to someone about Chicago pizza the other day, actually. Drool ahoy!

And yes, that is a ridiculous amount of cheese. Easily a meal in itself.

Kristin Salazar said...

So funny, I read this blog a long time ago and went to Dough based on this review. I remember the cheese bar and the mozzarella in your blog but none of the specifics. After going I was curious about what cheeses you chose. Of I accidentally chose the exact same 3 :) And I have to agree with you about the one filled with ricotta being my least favorite and the other 2 being AMAZING. My favorite was the one filled with mascarpone too!