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May 04, 2006

D'Amato's Bakery

Dominic Armato
On a whim, lunch today brought me to an old haunt that I hadn't visited in far, far too long. D'Amato's Bakery is a quick jaunt from the family business, and it used to be a regular destination. During my high school and college years, when I'd work summers packing samples, handling data entry and doing other menial tasks that needed doing, I'd pop in fairly regularly for the $1 cannoli that, to this day, may be the best I've had. The regular visits turned into daily visits when my buddy, roommate and coworker, Dave, developed a cannoli obsession that bordered on clinical. It wasn't unusual for him to pop into D'Amato's after work, buy a box filled with ten cannoli, and then consume them before the evening was out. In his defense, he had the metabolism for it and his body just shrugged them off. But when he'd drive along Sheridan with the windows rolled down screaming, "I HAVE CANNOLI!!!!", it was clear that his stomach wasn't the organ that was experiencing issues.

At any rate, yeah, they're good cannoli.

D'Amato's does, in fact, make some other items. They do a pretty decent loaf of Italian bread, as well as a horde of Italian cookies... as any good Italian bakery should... but the specialty of the house, despite what Dave may believe, is a phenomenal pizza. This was the object of my desire this afternoon.

Dominic Armato
D'Amato's makes an Italian-style sheet pizza, cooked in a large rectangular pan and cut into 8x6" pieces. It's an intensely-flavored slice, and its awesomeness knows no bounds. Unlike Pizza Metro, which also aspires to Italian pizza a taglio authenticity, D'Amato's foregoes the crispy in favor of the doughy. It's almost more of a pizza bread -- thick, moist and coated with olive oil or, if you're lucky, saturated with it. Only the brave and the uninitiated would dare to set down a D'Amato's carry-out bag on the passenger seat. The tomato sauce is fairly simple, with a very strong tomatoey intensity. There's some character to the cheese, which leads me to believe that there's both mozzarella and some parmigiano, though neither are present in excess. Sausage is optional, but it shouldn't be. And the best part, arguably, is the cheese at the edge of the pan. To call it caramelized would be charitable... it's full-on charred... but it's not the least bit unwelcome, providing a nice crunch and a bit of gnarly character. The pizza is served at room temperature, which some may find odd, but it's absolutely the right move. Some foods just taste better once they've cooled down, and this is one of them. Of course, you're free to bring it home and toast it up however you deem fit, but I recommend against it. It's best not to mess around with something this good.

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