Every morning, Marc-Aurele Buholzer, owner and pizzaiolo at Vero Pizza, spends three hours preparing the day’s pizza dough, combining a part of his three-year-old, wild fermented starter into flour, salt and water. If you take a look at Vero’s Instagram (@veropizza) you may catch a glimpse of it whipping around the mixer with the consistency of meringue.
Hours later, that dough will be topped and baked in a wood-fired oven at 900 degrees for about 60 to 90 seconds. It will transform into the best pizza crust in all of Cleveland: airy, supple and leopard-spotted with charred, crispy bubbles.
“There should be a laxness, a forwardness about pizza-making,” says Buholzer. “There is a romance with making the dough the same day, yet we’re still able to produce all this lightness.”
Neapolitan pizza is as traditional and minimalist as pizza gets. At Vero, you will find a menu of around a dozen pies with no more than a handful of ingredients complemented by a couple simple starters (if available, you want the $10 Caesar salad) and excellent gelato ($5 or $6) made in Old Brooklyn by Gelato Star.
But you’re here for the pizzas. “I develop all these with the idea that we’re going to keep it simple,” explains Buholzer.
First-timers should not skip the Margherita DOP ($16), Buholzer’s favorite pie and the standard against which all pizzaiolos are judged. An excellent take on the classic, it is topped with buffalo mozzarella flown in weekly from Southern Italy.
Our pick for a house style is literally the Best ($16), inspired by a white pie served at Best Pizza in Brooklyn. Topped with garlic, mozzarella, ricotta, caramelized leeks, sesame seeds and basil, this sweet, nutty pizza showcases the subtleties in the crust better than any other.
“I had that and it was something special,” explains Buholzer. “We stand on the shoulders of giants.”
12421 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-229-8383, verocleveland.com