If you follow the logic of the state fair, there’s not a single foodstuff that can’t be improved by a dip in a deep fryer. Snickers, Twinkies, Oreos, Coke, even batter-coated butter —a couple minutes in gurgling, scalding oil create a calorie bomb that’s one part oddity, one part oh-I-shouldn’t indulgence and all intestinal distress.
One bite of crisp, oozing butter, and you’ll glean an important lesson from this parable: Just because you own a deep fryer doesn’t mean you should use it.
Luckily, no one told that to Giulio Adriani, the madcap pizzaiolo behind Brooklyn’s Forcella. It’s one of the new-model pizzerias sweeping New York, complete with a wood-burning oven, ingredients and even a chef imported from Italy. But what separates Forcella from the doughy pack is a singular, stomach-expanding delight dubbed the montanara.
Typically, pizzas follow a predictable path to your plate. The dough is stretched into a disc and inserted into an oven, where it blisters in a delicious crunchy manner. Not so the montanara. After stretching his dough, Adriani submerges it into vegetable oil simmering away at 375 degrees, causing the dough to puff up and recall a pillowy funnel cake at a fair or a Navajo-style fry bread. Before the pie cooks all the way, it’s removed from the oil. Adriani tops the montanara with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, homemade mozzarella and leaves of basil, then quickly finishes it in the oven.
The end product is a concerto of contrasting textures and flavors. The blistered crust is simultaneously chewy and crispy, yet it also retains an ethereal airiness. The misshapen lumps of nicely salty, bone-white melted mozzarella serves as a foil to the zingy crimson tomatoes, while oil adds a smidgen of savory depth—well, fat. The sum is a pizza so beguiling, so unusual, that you won’t even think about your waistline as you reach for another piece, then another.
It’s fair food elevated to excellent.
Forcella, 485 Lorimer St., Brooklyn, NY, 718-388-8820, forcellaeatery.com