Pizza and A More-Isla Mujeres 2019

March13

Everybody knows that the world’s best pizza is eaten in Italy and being the pizza lovers that we are, we are constantly drawn to Italy for the food. But consider this: we have eaten amazing pizza elsewhere in the world and some mediocre pizza in Italy. Perhaps it is not the geography that dictates the excellence; but the ingredients, the knowledge and the passion. Case in point, recently before the start of the 2019 Oscars (which we watched in Spanish), we enjoyed a stellar pizza on Isla Mujeres.

Mateo the owner/chef of Pizza and A More and his family have been on Isla for less than a year. They emigrated from Italy via Playa del Carman but made the move to the island in search of a quieter life. He is from Rome and his wife is from Milan. They are expecting their first child this spring.

Upon arrival we were asked if we would care to sit in the garden. When we said yes, we walked through a garage and past an enormous paper mache elephant that had been constructed for the upcoming Carnival. D remarked that it was the biggest piñata he had ever seen. After a spell, a mighty energy burst from the kitchen door. It was Mateo with his enormous grin, his booming voice and his hearty handshake. We knew we would be in good hands.

Walking back and forth to the kitchen he first brought us an amuse bouche-“suppli”. Mateo explained that although many regions of Italy make arancini which we first tasted in Sicily, suppli are characteristically made and served in Rome. The word suppli is the Italianization of the French word for “surprise!”. The Roman snack is formed from of a ball of rice, with bolognaise sauce and mozzarella. (Now unfortunately I am having difficulty getting photos from my phone transferred to my laptop, so I do not yet have the image to share with you).

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We asked Mateo to prepare us his favourite pizza. He must have had a hard time deciding because the one that arrived was a half Italian sausage and mushroom (Boscaiola) and the other half anchovy, capers and black olives (Romana). Mateo explained that he imports his flour, tomatoes and mozzarella from Italy and that the bubbled crunch of the crust is achieved when corn meal is sparingly added to the dough.

We thought that Boscaiola might be a province of Italy that we had not yet travelled through but with research, found that the name implies that mushrooms are a key component, with bosco meaning woods and boscaiola referring to the woodcutter’s wife. Even more pronounced than the mushrooms themselves was the Italian sausage-oh that sausage! The ground pork had a smoky flavour and upon inquiry we learned that the second ingredient is the inclusion of bacon.

The Romana included black olives, and salty capers and anchovies along with the excellent tomato sauce, mozzarella and a dusting of oregano. I typically eat my pizza like a purist that lifts the triangle to my mouth, starts at the tip and ends up at the ridge of crust. This pizza though was so rich that I folded it in half and balanced the pungency of the toppings with the satisfying grounding of the crust.

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As Mateo offered us espresso, he also mentioned his second location closer to Playa Norte to make pizza by the slice available to the beach crowd. His pizza by the slice is thick and hearty as a result of creating denser dough the evening prior and then baking it twice each morning.

Tiramisu will eventually find its way onto the menu along with pastas; once he is able to source pasta flour from Italy. They offer delivery service to the entire island. Mateo indicates that his most loyal customers are the islanders themselves. That is a good enough endorsement for me.

So I ask you, is the best pizza dictated by geography or passion? In this case, I believe that latter makes it so.

Kath’s quote:“There’s a pizza place near where I live that sells only slices. In the back, you can see a guy tossing a triangle in the air.”
Steven Wright

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Love never fails.

 

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