Campania: Napoletana-Style Pizza in Alpharetta
Jennifer Simmons and Stewart Muller were focused upon bringing real Napoletana-style pizza to the Alpharetta, so that many Northside residents could avoid the frustrating drive to Midtown (Antico), Sandy Springs (Double Zero) or Buckhead (Varasano’s New York-Napoletana fusion). While they knew a lot about the concept, not only did they need to source the authentic ingredients but also someone to capably man the oven that reaches 1,000 degrees. Enter Stefano Rea, who recently worked capably alongside Chef Linda Harrell at Cibo e Beve in Sandy Springs.
When we arrived for lunch last week, we were a bit taken aback by the interior design, which is the antithesis of most pizza places you may have visited in the past. While child-friendly in some regards, the environment provides a welcome opportunity for a date night or with members of your group(s). Campania fits well with Alpharetta style and hopefully the entire experience will resonate with local residents and a wide variety of guests.
My lunch guest, who grew up in the Campania region of Italy, and I ordered a salad featuring with cantaloupe wrapped with Prosciutto and the Salame pizza (Pomodoro sauce, salame piccante, fresh Mozzarella and fresh basil). Rea and my friend engaged in a lively discussion in their native tongue and discussed ingredients while we toured the kitchen, freezer, etc. Rea then took it upon himself to spoil us by adding his signature Tartufo pizza to our order, and we certainly didn’t complain.
Because the pizza is cooked at such a high temperature, Rea has to be focus and not get distracted, and less than five minutes later, the piping hot, slightly charred pizza was brought to us quickly. A word of advice to the neophytes: the charring doesn’t disturb the taste, it actually enhances it, and the crust is much less dense than the New York-style crust or thicker crust pizzas or those that are delivered to your door to which you may have become accustomed.
The salami piccante (spicy pepperoni) provides a nice zing and complements the fresh mozzarella nicely. Those who welcome spice should sample this pizza, while those who enjoy savory, almost decadent flavors, will revel in the fabulous Tartufo. There are many choices on the menu, and there are daily specials including intriguing pasta
dishes. The wine list, smartly chosen by Simmons, includes varietals from all parts of Italy, many of which you likely haven’t seen or tried. That provides those who enjoy wine a great opportunity to explore the many wonderful varietals from the peninsula. Stunning versions of Lemoncello also are available for after dinner. Beer and a full bar also are available.
While some of the pizzas served at Campania may be enjoyed at home, they are best served in the restaurant straight from the oven, particularly the Arugula e Prosciutto, the Tartufo and the Capriccosa. This concept is long overdue in our area, and should create a legion of followers who will flock to it like some of the others in town.