Monday, December 29, 2008

Trattoria 174: A Parade of Pizza

The dough soared into the air, and I held my breath until he guided it back on to his hand. Our prying eyes were no match for the expert flick of his wrist, as he tossed the pliant dough to the proper thickness. We applauded his skilled demonstration, then turned our attention back to our glasses of Petite Syrah. The spicy wine warmed our stomachs on the cold night, and as I nestled back into my high-back chair, I felt perfectly content to sit and absorb the cozy atmosphere created by the candlelit table and the quiet laughter of my parents and sister-in-law.

While the smell of melting mozzarella toyed with our senses, the man with the expert hands presented us with delicate field greens topped with avocado, grapefruit, green apple slices, walnuts, red onions, dried cranberries, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The light starter amped up the motor in our bellies for the impending pizza, which subsequently arrived at the table hot from the oven mere moments after our salad plates were cleared.

"Save room." He instructed us, as he doled out slices of the spinach pie -- a sensual marriage of Bechamel sauce, Popeye's favorite vegetable, and mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

So rapt with pleasure, we scarcely heard him when he told us there were two more pizzas coming. My mom marvelled at the crispness of the crust, I appreciated the lack of grease, my sister-in-law mooned over the toasted cheese and my father lunged for the last piece -- unable to heed the warnings of our server and personal chef.

Up next was the heartiest of our three pies of the evening -- a chicken asparagus version of the spinach pizza that was also topped with the decadent Bechamel sauce and an ample blanket of mozzarella and Parmesan. The grilled chicken and tender bits of asparagus were a welcome contrast to our first pie, and as I tore through my second slice, I could see why it is the house favorite.

Despite already devouring two-three slices each, no one at the table could resist the allure of basic Margherita pizza. The tangy homemade arriabiatta sauce, shreds of fresh basil, and pock-marks of crusted cheese is always a winning combination, and I immediately lambasted myself for my inability to leave the last slice of the chicken asparagus pie on the platter. Undeterred by my nonverbal (nonexistent) protests, our server opened a third bottle of wine and poured into my glass with a leaden hand. With alcohol by my side, I knew I could fool my stomach into thinking there was room for one more piece. I proceeded on, content to end the evening with a slice of the simple, rustic pizza.

We topped off our over expanded bellies with freshly baked peanut butter paisley brownies, and then bid each other adieu as we stole into the brisk Orange County "winter" air.

"Thanks for coming!" He said from the door of Trattoria 174. He leaned in to place an arm around my sister-in-law, who stood shivering beside him.

"We'll see you tomorrow!" I responded to my brother and waved at them from the car.

As we exited their complex to head home, I mused to my parents. "It was just like eating at a restaurant."

"Nah," My mother said. "It was even better than a restaurant."


Futile Sniffer said...

That pizza looks so good!!!!!

Heather said...

wow! can I have your brother?! that all looks so amazingly good!!

Esi said...

All the pizzas sound delicious. Pizza was not in my meal plan this week and now you have me craving it :)

The Blonde Duck said...

Think I could get away with pizza for breakfast?

Diana said...

Hah, I showed my brother this post and he responded, "We don't deliver." :)

Esi - I think pizza should be in the meal plan! I think pizza may end up being in my meal plan too!

Blond Duck - Yes, pizza is definitely a breakfast food. Just add bacon! ;)

Nicole said...

WOW....the pizzas look and sound so delicious!!!!!!