As mentioned earlier in this space, last night was Il Cane Rosso‘s inaugural Thursday night outing to the Green Spot. The gentleman you see at left is the affable Jay Jerrier, the brains behind Il Cane Rosso’s mobile wood-burning pizza oven. If you want to know a little more about his rig, read this Q&A with Jerrier. Here’s what I can tell you about his Neapolitan pies: they are excellent in your mouth. Jerrier makes his pies in strict accordance with the guidelines of the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana. You can go here to learn exactly what that means. Chances are, if you dig pizza, you already know all this. I’d read about Il Cane Rosso before and had talked to some folks who’d raved about Jerrier’s work, but last night was my first taste. The pizza lived up to the hype.
My family ordered two pies: a margherita ($10) and an Emma with Jimmy’s sausage ($14). Il Cane Rosso’s website talks about how they hand-pull their mozzarella every day and how their tomato sauce is made with San Marzano tomatoes that have been hand-crushed so as to avoid breaking the seeds, which makes the sauce bitter. Yes, of course. But here’s what that means to me: I go to a place like Alphonso’s (right across the parking lot from Green Spot), whose pizza I really like, and I can stomach one, maybe two, slices. There’s just a lot going on with an Alphonso’s pie. Two pieces, and I feel like I need to lie down. And I don’t eat the crust because it seems like a waste of time.
That ICR margherita? I ate half of it, crusts included. It’s just so simple and delicate. The interplay of crust and sauce and cheese is a thing of magic. One bite might bring you all three; the next might bring you sauce and basil and a bubble of charred crust only, a different flavor profile. Am I making sense? Let me put it this way: my 11-year-old son will eat pizza if that’s all there is to eat, but he doesn’t particularly care for it. I always thought he was just strange. But last night I learned that the problem was, I’d never fed him a real Neapolitan pizza. He ate half that Emma (pictured) last night and declared that ICR’s was the first pizza he’d ever liked.
Now then. A few words about the setting of last night’s meal, in particular two things I find hard to believe. 1) I find it hard to believe that it’s strictly legal to set up an oven with a 900-degree fire just a few feet away from an island of gas pumps. Not that I at any point felt in danger. Not that I think anything could possibly go awry. I am not being sarcastic. It’s just that I can’t imagine the code Nazis at City Hall would be happy with this arrangement. I hope I’m wrong. (And if you are a City Hall code Nazi and you’re reading this and thinking about giving Il Cane Rosso and Green Spot some guff, just know that if you take my pizza away, I will tweet nasty things about you.)
And 2) I find it hard to believe that we enjoyed ourselves so much while sitting in the parking lot of a gas station. A neighbor stopped by that we hadn’t seen in a while. A large family (meaning in number, not in size) rolled up on their bikes to have dinner. It really was pleasant. A couple weeks ago, I wrote on this blog about how much I dig the vibe they’ve got going in Oak Cliff. When Bruce Bagelman, Green Spot’s owner, was first scouting for locations, he almost put his goofy gas station in Oak Cliff. It would have fit in well there. We’re lucky to have it in our corner of East Dallas. I plan to return next Thursday night and for many Thursdays to come.