Il Cane Rosso started out as a mobile pizza kitchen, an oven on wheels that frequently put up shop around town. The mobile kitchen still makes its Neapolitan-style pizza every Monday at Times Ten Cellars in Lakewood.
But now, in case you haven’t heard, Cane Rosso also is a restaurant in Deep Ellum, and it is seriously hip. Most nights, clusters of pretty Dallas girls with long hair and designer shoes line the long bar, where they can watch the guys make their pizza. Preppy couples and punk rock kids alike wine and dine at banquettes.
Food critics like it. Leslie Brenner of the Dallas Morning News said the pizza at Cane Rosso is better than Motorino in NYC’s East Village. Brenner loves their pizza, and she probably even has been to Naples.
I have not been to Naples, and when I tried Cane Rosso pizza from the mobile kitchen about two years ago, I did not like it. Yes, the crust is chewy and crispy with charcoal. The fixin’s are great — fresh mozzarella, burrata, Jimmy’s sausage, sopressata and all that. They’re great. But on that first trip, I couldn’t get past how the slices of pizza were so soggy in the middle. If you hold the slice by the crust, the rest of it just hangs there like laundry on the line.
Being hard-headed and quick to judge, I deemed Cane Rosso overrated. End of story.
But not quite. After Cane Rosso got its Deep Ellum digs, everyone, friends and food critics alike, kept telling me how great it is. After about the 50th person asked me if I’d tried it, I decided it deserved another chance. Maybe I just got a bad one that first time.
The service, the atmosphere, the prices at Cane Rosso are good. I approve. But the pizza is still soggy. My pizza was soggy, and I waited for the people at the next table to take a slice from their pie to see if it was soggy too — maybe I just got two bad ones. But no, the other table’s pie was soggy too. They obviously were Cane Rosso veterans because the lady handled her soggy slice with two hands, one on the crust and one at the point.
So then I thought, maybe Neapolitan pizza is SUPPOSED to be soggy in the middle. I consulted the oracle, Anthony Bourdain. He eats pizza in Naples in this clip from “No Reservations,” wherein we learn that Napoletani eat pizza with a knife and fork, not in slices. It’s hard to tell for sure in this clip, but I think his perfect Neapolitan pizza could be soggy in the middle.
I consulted the other oracle, Google. Search results for “Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be soggy” yielded mixed results. The top hit is a story about a NYC chef who was opening a new restaurant last year and wouldn’t be serving his signature Neapolitan pizza because he’s tired of their soggy centers.
Yelp reviewers from Minnesota to California emphatically state that Neapolitan pizza is not supposed to be soggy.
So I don’t know if Neapolitan pizza is supposed to be soggy. I don’t know. But I do know for sure that Cane Rosso pizza is supposed to be soggy because that’s the way it is every time.
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