Hail, Pizza! (7-9)

We pay tribute to the delicious marvel that is cheese, sauce and dough with a menu of 12 gourmet pies you absolutely must try.
7. Pork Sausage


Thin is in at Michael “Iron Chef” Symon’s stylish Lolita, where the pared-down pies are slim and spare as a Calvin Klein model. The “less is more” approach begins with the ultrathin crust, made from a quartet of thoughtfully chosen ingredients: cake yeast, water, salt and Caputo flour, an Italian import that chef de cuisine Andy Strizak describes as being “fine as powdered sugar.” It lends the dough the distinctive chew that makes it a memorable stage for a host of simple toppings. Knowing Symon’s penchant for all things porcine, we go for the sausage, a zippy blend of fennel, cayenne, crushed red pepper, garlic and Ohio-raised pork, pre-browned to mahogany magnificence before being scattered in large crumbs across a sparingly applied substrate of fresh mozzarella, garlic and oregano. There, it is joined by tender-crisp florets of locally grown broccoli bursting with natural sweetness and a drizzle of Greek Lefas-brand extra virgin olive oil, a full-flavored product that Strizak calls “the best all-purpose olive oil you’ll ever find.” Without the distraction of heavy sauces or high-test add-ons, the resultant pie is both subtle and refined, each uncomplicated component shining forth in its own wholesome fashion.

21939 Lakeshore Blvd., Euclid, 216-731-7499, lolabistro.com

Wild Mushroom

Eddie’s Pizzeria Cerino
$11.95 – $19.95

Making a pizza is like constructing a building. It happens piece-by-piece starting with a strong foundation; crucial, multiple layers; and a few extras on top for style. That’s the philosophy of Eddie Cerino, owner of Eddie’s Pizzeria Cerino. “Everything starts with the crust,” he says. He learned the secrets of making good bread years ago while helping his grandmother, legendary restaurateur Carrie Cerino, in the kitchen. Making dough is a three-day process that begins with a starter, or poolish. Flour, water and yeast sit for 24 hours; then they’re mixed into dough and sit for another 24 hours. On the third day, the dough is ready to be sheeted and used. “It’s the same process beer goes through,” Cerino says. The result is a golden, crisp crust. The Wild Mushroom pizza is taken from basic to gourmet thanks to sauteed button, shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms blended with white ricotta salata, a sort of Italian feta. It is finished with roasted peppers because the “color and flavor blend well with mushrooms.” As the signature menu item, the restaurant’s pizzas are packing in the diners. “Some days we run out of dough.”

7305 Broadview Road, Seven Hills, 216-236-6007, pizzeriacerino.com

  9. Sunnyside

Bar Cento

Once you get past the initial weirdness — eggs? on a pizza? — there is something so right about the concept; you’ll wonder why every kitchen in the country isn’t cranking out Sunnyside pizzas, with their iconic combination of eggs and “bacon” (in this case, imported Italian pancetta). For starters, consider the Roman-style crust: wafer thin, cracker crisp and dusted with cracked black pepper for eye-opening appeal. Next comes a thick blanket of provolone (“We use a lot of provolone,” confirms chef Mike Nowak). And finally, there is the trio of free-range eggs, “the most important part” of the pie, which Nowak breaks into three little nests of pancetta, where they bake at 650 degrees. The biggest challenge is getting the whites to set before the crust gets too brown. “Plus, I want to make sure the yolks stay nice and goopy,” says Nowak, who finishes each pizza with a pinch of fresh parsley, Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil before slicing through each egg. Done right, the broken yolks melt into golden pools for a sort of DIY hollandaise. “Use bits of crust to soak it up,” Nowak advises, and don’t let one drop go to waste.

1948 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-274-1010, barcento.com
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