In Italian, quattro stagioni means "four seasons." The pie is often separated into quadrants, each with a different topping representing a season—asparagus or artichokes for spring, tomatoes for summer, mushrooms for fall and cured meats for winter. Since we're teetering on the cusp of a seasonal change, we decided to honor fall with a little lighthearted Neapolitan brawl.
FLATBREAD NEAPOLITAN PIZZERIA
Dish: Quattro Stagioni
Description: Fior di Latte, San Marzano pomodoro, Creminelli prosciutto crudo and Calabrese, fresh basil, herbed portobello mushrooms, parmesan
Presentation: A smear of tomato sauce shines through small tufts of mozzarella and a dusting of cornmeal clings to one side of the crust. Petals of prosciutto rest on one quadrant, while halved coins of calabrese adorn another. Two sprigs of basil add a flash of green in the center of the pie.
Dough: Baked in a wood-burning oven imported from Naples, Italy, Flatbread's certified D.O.C. (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) pie had a pleasant crunch at the perimeter, but things got a little floppy at the center.
Cheese: Flatbread's Fior di Latte, or "flower of the milk," mozzarella is a welcome step up from the standard white sprinkle. The oozy mozzarella coins had a mildly salty brine and a creamy tang.
Sauce: Bright and lightly tart, Flatbread's San Marzano pomodoro was top notch and has all the summery zip of tomatoes fresh from the garden.
Toppings: Though the sauteed portobellos were unmemorable, the cured meats from Salt Lake City's Creminelli Fine Meats were show-stealers. The prosciutto crudo was perfectly salty and shaved thin while the Calabrese had a hint of garlic, a rich fattiness and a spicy kick.
Verdict: Props for the simplicity. A moderate dose of top-shelf ingredients beats out greasy meat and cheap cheese any day. Points deducted for a somewhat floppy crust that didn't do much to support the rest of the team.
TONY'S PIZZERIA TEATRO
Dish: Quattro Stagioni
Description: San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, mushrooms, asparagus, homemade Italian sausage and imported prosciutto di Parma
Presentation: This pie forgoes the standard four quadrants in favor of a flurried mix of the seasons. Each slice boasts a thin layer of sauce, a dusting of shredded mozzarella, a few modest mushroom slivers, a shard or two of asparagus and ample amounts of meat.
Dough: Chef/owner Tony Vuolo, a native Neapolitan, has the thin crust dialed in. Super skinny and crispy on the bottom with an even char, this wood-fired crust is a thing of beauty.
Cheese: The standard shredded mozzarella was suitable but nothing to write home about. The standard shredded mozzarella was suitable, but nothing to write home about.
Sauce: Tony's uses San Marzano tomatoes to make its sauce, but the bright tomato flavors were overshadowed by heavy hints of dried Italian spices.
Toppings: While the mushrooms were more flavorful than Flatbread's and the asparagus was a welcome addition, the meats just couldn't compete. Curled up into little cups, the mild homemade Italian pork sausage coins were good but not great and the prosciutto had a muted hue.
Verdict: Props for the excellent crust, but a shoulder shrug for everything else. Also, jumbling the seasons into a uniform topping was an interesting, but ultimately less thematically satisfying, choice.
WINNER: Flatbread Neapolitan Pizzeria Tony's makes a fine quattro stagioni, but it didn't top Flatbread in a showdown. Though Tony's version was larger and had a superior crust, it lacked the artful simplicity and premium ingredients that made Flatbread's so satisfying.