Monday, April 1, 2013

Django makes pizza… swing français!

UPDATE: Django has since closed and is in the process of re-opening at 1420 Locust St in late summer 2018. Django also no longer offers pizza on its menu.

Chef George Formaro helped to boost a pizza Renaissance in Des Moines with the superb coal-fired brick oven New York-style pizzas offered at Centro. Not content to rest on his laurels, the ovens at Django – George's French brasserie-style restaurant – are now fired up to offer a unique French-inspired pizza.

Before I enjoyed my first Corsican pizza, I needed something to wet my whistle. A Parisian Sidecar with Lillet, Cointreau and cognac made for a fine apéritif. While awaiting the main course I dined on a Django Salad accentuated with refreshing tomato and cucumber, pungent feta, and with just enough red onion to add a hint of spiciness.

Soon I was greeted to a unique take on a traditional Pizza Margherita – tomato sauce, tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil – boosted with the addition of spinach leaves and Gruyère.

Marvelously thin crust; crisp, crunchy rind with a rim of char. The Gruyère just pops in your mouth! It's a revelation nothing short of like when I first enjoyed fresh garlic on pizza [see blog post]. A scattershot of thin basil strands yields flavor in most every bite. Thin slices of tomato add a welcome acidity. A delightful little pizza, more suited as a date night appetizer than a big game crowd pleaser.

The following day I ordered up an über-thin Quattro Fromage to go. Seated in my recliner with pizza box in lap I dug into an appealing blend of mozzarella, Swiss, Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses. The crust was more evenly crisp across than what I enjoyed on the Margherita. I suspect when served atop a plate moisture builds up and the crust softens. A flatter serving surface like a pizza pan might help.

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