This week DeSano Pizza Bakery was voted best Pizza in Nashville with over 2400 votes at Eater Magazine. Keep reading to find out why.
When I moved to Nashville nearly 15 years ago, there was no DeSano Pizza Bakery or anything remotely close where I could get an authentic Neapolitan pizza. I gave up pizza. I stopped eating it altogether, because it was too doughy, too top heavy and the sauce made me feel bad. I stopped missing it, and became the person who didn’t eat pizza unless I made it myself. This means I rarely ever ate pizza.
Now with DeSano Pizza Bakery in Nashville, I may never make pizza again. It’s everything we hoped for after we heard numerous raves from friends. It’s as close to the authentic pizza in Italy that we’ve been able to experience.
Distinctly different than any other pizza place in Nashville, none the ingredients are local, not even the water that the dough is made with. All of the ingredients are imported from Italy, including the flour, the San Marzano tomatoes, the meats, the cheeses, and the cannoli filling. There are good reasons for this. You can taste the difference and the pizza is easy on the stomach.
I know I write a lot about sourcing local ingredients and I’m still for that, but there are times I’m willing to make an exception.
DeSano Pizza Bakery hides nothing from its customers. Bags of flour, large water vessels and tomato cans sit around the floor. The coolers hold the imported meat and the coveted buffalo mozzarella. They import 00 San Felice flour named for the historic mill in Naples has a long history and is part of the story of why this pizza is so good. It produces an elastic dough that makes the tossing easy and provides the right chewy texture, perfect for an 800 degree oven.
I struck up several conversations with the pizza makers and they gave me an entire disc of dough for me to play with and toss. The pizza dough is much wetter than any other store bought dough I’ve worked with. It was the first time, I ever truly understood the importance of the elasticity of pizza dough. When made properly, anyone can start tossing and twirling the dough with just a little practice. It’s fun, but also an important part of the pizza making to get that crust just right.
There are three distinct ovens, which were made and imported from Italy, each with their own name.
Pizza oven making is a very big deal there, a science, an art, a craft that has been perfected over generations. The intense heat which can get up to 900 degrees is contained by ancient Santa Maria brick and Volcanic Rock from Mt. Vesuivius, which is quite impressive, and responsible for that perfect char.
I was there on off hours, which made a longer conversation with the staff possible, and I learned about the commitment of the pizza makers.
Pizza maker, Carolyn, was enthusiastic and sat with us for a few minutes telling us the story of DeSano Pizza Bakery. The sauce is so fresh and she even gave me a sample cup so I could test it. I know my San Marzano tomato sauce, and this sauce was drinkable, without any lingering acid.
They do something I’ve never seen a pizza parlor do except when I was in Italy. You cannot have it your way, but you can have it your size. Individual (which is about 11 inches in diameter) and large for family style. They have made a decision to serve several distinct pizzas and there are no substitutions. Take heart, however, each pizza is pretty near perfect, and there the cheese pizza will make the fussier children happy.
There are sexy meat eating choices (my favorite) like the Diavolo; Mr. Spinach Tiger’s favorite, the Napolitana, broccoli rabe with sausage, and there is always the Margarita D.O.P., buffalo mozzarella and basil, which is universally loved. If you are from the Northeast, you might miss calzones, and they have them perfected because in a calzone, dough is king.
Expect a char on the crust, especially as the night goes on and the ovens get hotter.
You don’t go to DeSano Pizza Bakery for the atmosphere. You pile your kids or your friends in the car, (with some bottles of red wine as they are cool with BYOB) and you place your order at a counter, while grabbing a large table, which you will likely share with other people. The kids can go up and watch the pizza making action as pizza dough flies through the air. They can even have some dough to play with.
I read a review that actually astounded me, saying that DeSano’s is good for adults, but not for kids, because of the price. The mentality that we should keep feeding our kids junk ingredients, while we treat ourselves to artisan crafted, quality ingredient food is what is wrong with American cuisine. DeSano’s will not break the bank, and it’s time we paid attention to the foods we are introducing to our children. Kids deserve food that is easy on the stomach and amazing to their taste buds and expose them to a slower food mentality in our fast food society. DeSano’s Pizza Bakery might be just the place to have a conversation about slow food and what it means.
My husband is a cannoli nut. These are pretty good.
DeSano’s seem to be spreading its wings. Starting here in Nashville, they have opened up in Charleston, Los Angeles and soon East Hollywood and I suspect many more places. This changes my mind about chain food operations. As long as they have the commitment to quality ingredients and they are changing food we love for the better, DeSano’s Pizza Bakery can open up all over the world.