By Michelle Gillan Larkin
Everything tastes better fried, don’t you agree? If you do, then don’t walk, run to the newish Porta Napoli in Harrison. There you’ll find dozens of fresh and authentic Italian specialties, including—brace yourself—fried pizza.
While it would be logistically impossible (or at least very messy) to deep-fry a whole pizza—sauce, cheese and all—it’s actually quite simple and a really novel approach to lightly fry the dough before working it into a pie. It’s been a hit in NYC for a while, and the technique makes for the lightest, crispest, most ridiculously delicious pizza I’ve ever eaten. And, I’ve eaten a LOT of pizza (often in one sitting).
I never would’ve known this going in, but it turns out dough that’s briefly dipped in bubbling hot oil yields a delicacy that is divinely chewy, yet ever so airy and feather-light. It’s also slightly reminiscent of that fried, sweet snack we all crave at street fairs. Yet it goes down easy because unlike the dough at most pizza joints, this version sits for a spell before cooking, allowing it to rise outside of your belly. Plus, it’s made in-house with flour that’s imported from Italy. Nothing like going right to the source for the best ingredients.
After being lifted from the fryer, the dough is topped and quickly finished off in the wood burning oven, firing up the flavor and drying out any excess oil. I tried the signature pie, so mine was covered with a sauce of imported San Marzano tomatoes and provola, which is smoked buffalo mozzarella, also direct from the old country. Fresh basil and pecorino romano added the final touches. Bellisimo! The smoky provola may be too sophisticated for the youngest of palates, so pies can be prepared in very classic and kid-friendly ways as well.
Speaking of, don’t miss dessert. As you might expect, it’s Nutella inspired. Imagine: lightly fried pizza dough strips drizzled with the nutty, chocolatey spread, and wood-fired dough stuffed with the same. Heaven. And, with pizza so light, you’ll have room, making it the perfect time to teach junior about the virtues of sharing.
Porta Napoli, 261 Halstead Avenue, Harrison; 914-732-3232