Last night the pizza kings at Pizzeria Vetri went head to head with Brad Spence, the head chef/co-owner of Amis, in a pizza battle. Four courses per team (including a beverage pairing) made for a night of heated competition and doughy deliciousness.
I was lucky enough to score a ticket to the event, and had a prime view of the open kitchen and pizza oven at the Pizzeria Vetri counter. Once seated, I was given a score card and was instructed to evaluate each course, grading the dishes on presentation, taste and creativity on a one through five scale (five being the best).
The first course began with Brad Spence’s version of the classic eggplant parmesan. A small stack of eggplant parm was served room temperature and for a twist on the traditional was topped with peeled raw tomatoes that brought new life to the whole dish. Team Pizzeria Vetri presented one of their signature items, the rotolo —a rolled ball of pizza dough— but instead of their usual mortadella and pistachio fillings, this one encased trumpet mushrooms, truffle pecorino cheese and a sunny side up egg. According to the crowd, the rotolo stole the show on the first face off.
Then we moved into pizza, with Spence’s side offering a peach, mortadella and provolone sandwiched slice, and Vetri’s delivering a thick taglio-style square topped with corn and scallions. The creative and seasonal pizza toppings worked in both of their favors, but Spence’s team racked up more points, pushing them slightly over the edge.
A pizza battle needs more than one pizza course, so for pie round dos, Spence presented a play on the traditional idea of “meat and potatoes.” His slice was topped with smashed, boiled potatoes and seared beef, with notes of horseradish permeating throughout the bed of potato and crust. Major points for originality on this one. Pizzeria Vetri created a slice with roasted peppers and thinly shaved steak, a familiar combination but one that isn’t so familiar to a pizza. Spence clutched just a few more points with his pie on this round too.
Dessert. Three courses (well, technically six) later, it was time for the sweet finish. Spence made a focaccia bread pudding with whipped cream and berries, and Vetri offered a straciatella gelato with polenta cookie crumbles and a mini cone.
While the votes were close, Spence cinched the win on the dessert round and ultimately the overall competition.
Both teams put up incredible and inventive dishes, and in my book, when it comes to pizza, everyone’s a winner.