Image of Firehouse courtesy Avila/EPDX
Pizza might just be the perfect "stranded on a desert island" food — depending on the toppings, the most basic pie hits all the major food groups (carbs, dairy, protein, veggies), with its tomato sauce helpfully preventing the onset of scurvy for good measure. In honor of Pizza Week, Eater asked a handful of pizzaolos around town to name their "Desert Island Pizza" — the one item on their menus that they'd commit to eating forever if the situation (you know, entrapment on a deserted island) ever arises.
Cathy Whims, Nostrana:
"I adore pizza with just tomato sauce, no cheese, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, and oregano. The classic is a Marinara pizza with just these ingredients: In Naples, where pizza was invented, many famous pizzerias only offer the Marinara or the classic Margherita. Yet this is just a template and many ingredients pair well with a Marinara.
Anchovies add a lovely salty umami style kick — anchovies are my protein of choice, the saltiness mixing well with the briny rich acidity of the tomato sauce (preferably San Marzano tomatoes). Perhaps on a desert island I could cure my own anchovies (or other fish) with salt evaporated from the sea water I would be surrounded with.
The next natural progression forward is a pizza I love with fresh clams, mussels, and/or squid providing the briny note of the anchovies. The clams and or mussels open in the heat of the oven and their juices meld with the tomato sauce and crusty dough. Perhaps I could find these mollusks in the reefs around my desert island. Maybe being trapped on a desert island wouldn't be so bad."
Matthew Busetto, Firehouse Restaurant:
"When I do have a pizza here, it's almost always our pizza with house-made sausage, and right now we're using spring onions. I love the sausage that we make, because it's so rich with fennel and a good amount of fat, and the perfect saltiness to balance out the creaminess of the mozzarella. So, I typically will eat the house-made sausage pizza. If it's a seasonal pizza, I had a great pizza last night with fresh ricotta, asparagus, rosemary, and pecorino.
But if it was something I'd have to eat all the time, it's always the sausage pizza. I'm looking for a good balance, and the creamy and sweet cheese, the very simple tomato sauce we use — it's just Neopolitan tomatoes and sea salt, it's slightly acidic — balances well with the fat of the sausage. And there's some chile in the sauce, it adds a little bit of piquant blast to it, which is always nice."
Will Fain, Pizza Depokos:
"My Desert Island Pizza pick: the Margherita — a well-rounded meal both nutritionally and metaphysically. On a building-block level, there's all the major food groups — fruits and veggies (those tomatoes would help keep scurvy at bay), protein, carbs, fats, and oils. Just as important, it has a rich fragrance and flavor — creaminess in the cheese, acidity in the tomatoes, sweetness in the basil, and flecks of bitterness on a nicely blistered crust.
This pizza may be a peasant food, but it's fit for a queen (the proof is in the name). But at its heart it is a simple flatbread, a food that's probably as old as civilization. And on a desert island, all by my lonesome, this would be a welcome connection to human history and culture."
· All Previous Pizza Week Coverage [Eater PDX]