I think I found it this time -- a really good slice of New York style pizza. It's at Pizzeria Roberti Orlando.
Located out toward Orlando's eastern side a bit north of Orlando International Airport, Pizzeria Roberti Orlando is an exciting find.
Well, let's back up. It's a pizzeria, although a pizzeria with a fancyish decor. In a strip mall. In some middle-of-noplace-special residential area. It's also 45 minutes from my home, 35 with no traffic, always with hefty tolls.
I will be back.
Pizzeria Roberti Orlando is owned by a young chef named Joseph Roberti. He's a Queens, New York, native, with culinary schoolsand cooking gigs in Florida and New York behind him.
You know what chefs do? They go all deep-delve into perfecting a dish. That's how my new hero Joe came up with his signature product. He created a whole wheat crust with a subtle sourdough zing. He has been perfecting the recipe for three years, and tells me it takes 48 to 72 hours to produce each batch.
For the sauce, Roberti adapted a Neopolitan style, which he learned while working at Epcot's Via Napoli. (The Via Napoli chefs are so bent on preparing a perfect pie that they measure the water for certain traits.) At Pizzeria Roberti, the sauce is simply a simmer of San Marzano tomatoes with roasted whole garlic cloves (now that's interesting; I may try this at home), fresh oregano and basil, plus salt and olive oil.
My group of four tried two pies -- the signature cheese and a veggie with extra garlic. Here's my report:
- The cheese pizza was excellent. Simply excellent. I have no need to try the mushroom-fontna, the braised short rib, the veal picatta or even the Sicilian, because I have found what I want.
- The vegetable pizza had terrific fresh spinach and some nice mushrooms, but the roasted red peppers didn't wow; they seemed like little strips out of a jar.
We didn't try any of the pastas, although with Roberti's passion and skills put to housemade sauces, I'll bet they're worth a try.
The garlic knots, made from the pizza dough, were super-garlicky, so those of us who adore super-garlicky foods had a heckuva good time with the appetizer. The house salad was fresh but had a too-sweet dressing and boring black olive slices. I'm told the salad of fresh mozzarella cheese and tomato was good; I didn't try it.
That should be my full report, but somehow we ended up gifted with two desserts -- cannolis and zeppolis. Thank you, Chef Joe! The cannolis had a crisp crust and a light, almost frothy, zesty interior cream. They were phenomenal. The zeppolis were essentially rounds of pizza dough fried and topped with oodles of powdered sugar. We liked those too.
So the next time you're near the airport, or heading to UCF, or ... whatever it is people do near Chickasaw Trail, work a Pizzeria Roberti stop into your itinerary. Then report back and let us know what you liked and what you didn't.