There are a lot of contenders for the number one pizza in San Miguel de Allende. Mi Vida, La Cucina di Afrodita and Casa Papaya all have wood-fired brick ovens and all make very good pizza napoletana. The problem is they usually only make it on a Sunday.
Now I don’t know about you but I’m mostly a red meat kind of guy on Sundays. I’m more of a Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday or any other day of the week pizza kind of guy. And I have a solution, well actually, a partial solution, a Wednesday to Saturday solution.
The place is called Neopolitan. Which is a very wise choice of names. Because Neopolitan-style pizza is the very best style of pizza (do I hear the sound of Sicilians, New Yorkers and Chicagoans gritting their teeth?). It’s pizza so good that it is included on UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.
The first time I tried a pizza from Neopolitan was in a bar. At Bonds 007 on Hidalgo, they hand you a menu for you to pick out your size and toppings of choice and about half an hour later, there’s a cardboard box sitting beside your beer. A rather simple but rather brilliant idea for a bar that, outside of Sunday afternoon sausages, has struggled to find a niche in the food biz.
The most recent time I tried a pizza from Neopolitan was at the restaurant itself. Thanks to the one way streets in Colonia Guadalupe, it took a little running around in circles to find it. But suddenly, there it was.
I was there with three extremely good looking women (love the M/F ratio in this town), Key He, Sherrea and Don Day’s Wife. They’re the kind of women you’d climb two flights of scary stairs for, banging your shiny dome twice on the way up.
On the way up, I checked the Pisa invades New York graphic on the wall and some strange looking device on the terrace. It looked a little like a charcoal-fired Weber, a barbecue I dislike intently because of the inability to raise or lower the rack. But it had a gas line attached and a pizza stone on top.
“What do you use that for?”, I asked Chef Carlos, one of Neopolitan’s owners.
“To cook your pizza”, replied Carlos.
“You’re going to make a pizza with a Neopolitan-style crust on that?”, I answered in disbelief. No stone or brick oven? No wood fire? How hot can you get that thing?”
“900 degrees Fahrenheit”, replied the chef (which just happens to be the recommended temperature for a Neopolitan-style pizza).
“Hmmmmmmmmmm!”, I think was my only comment.
I’d had emails telling me to not just try the pizza, that I had to try Neopolitan’s salads. But salads occupy space that could be filled with pizza so I didn’t even share the info on the salad raves with my fellow diners.
We ordered a bottle of L.A. Cetto Petite Sirah, one of my favorite affordable Mexican reds, and three small pizzas to share so we could check out some different toppings.
First up was an Española. It was very generously topped with goat cheese, arugula and jamon serrano. It had that yeasty smell that a good crust has. Not a cake but a bread dough smell. It was puffy on the edges with the right amount of char. It had a little crisp on the bottom but it still had some elasticity. It was a very, very good crust.
Next up was our waiter’s recommendation. He called it Mike’s Special. We used to call it the kitchen sink, the meat-lovers special, the one with just about everything on. This one had Italian sausage, mushrooms, bacon, onions, ham, basil and pepperoni. The toppings were all very good with a special mention this time to the tomato sauce.
I’m not a big stickler on whether a sauce is made from fresh or canned tomatoes and I really didn’t care when another pizzeria told me their sauce was “made with tomatoes that grow on the volcanic plains to the south of Mount Vesuvius”. But there are two things I do want in a tomato sauce: First, little or no bitter tomato paste. Second, the right amount and especially not too much sauce. Neopolitan had the sweetness and the quantity of sauce just right.
We finished with a quattro formaggi with provolone, parmesan, mozzarella and gorgonzola. There was lots and lots and lots of cheese and two slices left for Sherrea to take home.
This was good pizza, as good as I’ve had in San Miguel de Allende. And there was no way I would have known that it didn’t come from a wood-fired oven.
I had to ask Carlos and his partner Jessica how they discovered they could make a pizza in that strange looking BBQ.
“Maryland”, they told me, “we learned everything in Maryland.”
Maryland? Must be a suburb of Naples.
Neopolitan is located at Julian Carrillo 4B, in Colonia Guadalupe, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. They are open from Wednesday to Friday, 4:00 pm to 10:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 pm to 10:00 pm. To order for delivery call 415 121 7249.