Our never ending quest to find our source for a lazy dinner took us all the way to South Portland last night, to Ricetta’s Brick Oven Pizzeria. It was a spur of the moment decision, prompted mostly by the last minute discovery that MTV was running four back-to-back hours of True Life and Teen Mom, so the chicken thighs and salad went back into the fridge, and out came the takeout menu.
In spite of featuring many of the same “specialty” pizzas I have complained about in previous reviews, Ricetta’s manages at least to have more of an old-world vibe. This is the kind of place that you actually dine in for pizza; you look at the checkered tablecloths, feel the heat of the brick oven, and watch families eat bucketfulls of spaghetti and meatballs.
Because we always test out new pizza places with simple pies, we opted for Ricetta’s somewhat unique take on the Margherita pie: fresh tomato slices, fresh mozzarella and fontina cheese, and a healthy drizzle of garlic butter and basil.
We took our pizza to go, and, by the time we got it home, it was a little on the cold side, so we tossed it in the oven for a few moments. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when we first opened the box; though the crust looked right, there wasn’t a spec of char to be found, and I found the deviations from the traditional Margherita pizza a little troubling. There was no red sauce (which I suppose was accomplished with the sliced fresh tomato), and where I expected big fat slices of fresh mozzarella, I instead found the standard-issue bulk shredded pizza cheese. The drizzle of garlic butter was imperceptible, also.
I was prepared to write Ricetta’s off, but as I worked my way through my second and third slice, it really started to grow on me. When you throw away your preconceived notions of what this variety of pizza should taste like, and just let it be its own thing, it’s actually not bad. The crust is snappy and chewy, a tough trick to pull off in these parts. I didn’t like, however, what a giant, rolled crust they put around the edge, which tapered down to such a thin layer of dough towards the middle, that a couple of slices couldn’t be pulled away without tearing in half. I could’ve used a base layer of crushed tomato sauce as well; I get the reasoning behind the sliced tomatoes, but it doesn’t really work. The liquid they give off in cooking don’t make a sauce on the fly, they just make the crust disintegrate. The fontina, mixed with the mozzarella on top, was a nice surprise addition, bringing in some really woody, mushroomy flavors just in the nick of time.
All in all, we were fans of this pizza, though it probably doesn’t solve our delivery needs. Since they are in South Portland, I am fairly sure we have to go pick the pizza up, and getting in the car, or for that matter, moving our bodies in any way whatsoever, usually goes against the mood we are in when pizza seems like a good idea. And, anyway, I don’t think their takeout pizza really represents the best work they can do at Ricetta’s. Our Margherita pie was likely much better, I would imagine, the moment it came out of the oven; the car ride home didn’t do it any favors. Next time, we’ll enjoy our Ricetta’s they way it should be done: In the restaurant, drinking a beer out of a crystallized tan plastic glass, and watching a two-year-old blowing ricotta cheese all over the place.