Tuesday, August 27, 2013

La Fortuna Makes the Taste Test List

Thanks to a reader of this blog, I was made aware of La Fortuna.  This company is a regular vendor at the Verona Farmers Market and also makes appearances at special events and parties.  I had some extra interest in an operation like this since my Uncle's friend Louie the Glove tried to make a go at selling Napoli-style, wood oven pizza out of a cart near campus a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately, Louie left town before I could try the product out, but it looks like I'll get my chance with an operation with a solid track record.

They have a nice tent set-up, with a screened order + prep area, a sliding window to pass out the assembled pizzas, and a brick oven on wheels that is firey and hot and ready to cook a pizza in 90 seconds.

They have a nice menu of choices, featuring unique and fresh ingredients.  All are classically Italian, and their cheese is mainly layered thin slices of provolone and parmesan.  The result is a thin, flavorful melted cheese with an aged quality.  It comes out of the oven sizzling and quickly settles as it cools.

In keeping with the tenets of this blog, I ordered the "Bavarian," which was billed as "The La Fortuna take on a classic pepperoni pizza."  It features Organic Tomato Sauce, Provolono & Parmesan cheeses, and Red wine salami.  The salami were cut thin and were of a modest size, for a salami.  It certainly is close enough in flavor and size to be considered pepperoni for comparison purposes.

The pizza was made, and it went into the oven for a short time.

I should say that the people on hand working at La Fortuna are terrific.  Skillful, friendly, engaging, and funny.  They interacted well with customers and kept a lively conversation going with everyone.  It was clear that they have customers who come to the Farmers Market specifically for their pizza, and people in line were eager to suggest their favorites to us.

The pizza came out sizzling with the cheese bubbling like lava.  It quickly subsided and was cut almost immediately.

The pizza was about the size of a paper plate.  It is a reasonable sized serving for one.  If you're hoping to share, I'd recommend getting as many pizzas as you have people and try out the other interesting combinations they sell.

Overall Impression:  This was a cool experience that really felt close to the community.  Everyone was happy, engaged, and truly proud of the food they were putting out.  Their signs suggest that they are focused on quality ingredients, and the end result supports that.  They make you want to come back.  Score: 5 out of 5.

Crust:  This was light and airy at the edge and thin in the middle.  They portion the toppings just right for what the crust can support.  It means that they understand how important the crust is, being the foundation of the pizza.  If there were more toppings, it would flop and sog.  Instead it holds up well.  It is a basic dough, with much of the flavor coming from the wood fire in the oven.  For my personal taste, there were a few too many large bubbles.  Yet, it worked.  The crust held up well in the center, and was easy to bite yet chewy at the edge.  Score: 7 out of 10.

Cheese:  The cheese was of high quality and thinly applied.  For the type of pizza it is, it works.  It had an aged and slightly pungent flavor that you'd expect from good cheeses.  It's hard to compare to others, though it's not my favorite.  I've always been a fan of buffalo mozzarella on this type of pizza, but I agree that La Fortuna made the best choice for the flavor combinations they are creating.  Score: 3 out of 5.

Sauce:  This was tomato sauce.  It had the slight tang that you would get in a freshly made sauce with a little sweetness from added ingredients.  It serviced the dish well, but was fairly thin.  Score: 3 out of 5.

Pepperoni:  This was nice, even though it was red wine salami and not pepperoni.  The super-hot oven gave the slices a nice crisp edge, yet it retained the chewiness you'd expect from salami.  As I noted before, the flavor profile is similar to pepperoni, so it can be fairly compared.  Score: 4 out of 5

Price/Value:  The pie was $7, but they were fresh ingredients made with pride. This is not the type of thing you can just get in any town.  Still, in comparison to some of the others . . . ahh . . . it's hard to say.  I believe that this is well priced.  Not a bargain, but not too expensive to put on your list once in a while.  Score: 3 out of 5.

Overall score for La Fortuna: 25 out of 35.  It's hard to compare La Fortuna with the other pizzas in this taste test because I'd put it in a completely different food group.  The blog is generally looking for that guilty pleasure, while the pies from La Fortuna make you feel glad you went there.  You feel good after eating them.

Scorecard so far
1.  Ian's on State = 26 points
2. (tie) Falbo Brothers = 25 points
    (tie) La Fortuna = 25 points
3.  Pizza di Roma = 17 points
4.  Rocky Rococo = 14 points

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