When you want a pie to have a pedigree
By Tom Sietsema
Sunday, November 4, 2012
The recipe for true Neapolitan pizza is pretty simple. You have to use a wood-burning oven. Only San Marzano tomatoes are allowed. As for the crust, no more than four ingredients — supersoft flour, sea salt, fresh yeast and water — can apply. Among a recent wave of subscribers are Menomale in the District, Pizza CS in Rockville and Pupatella in Arlington. Each dough-spinner follows the rules spelled out by Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, dedicated to preserving "real Neapolitan pizza" (Vera Pizza Napoletana, or VPN). And each restaurant adds something special to the scene.
Friends Ankur Rajpara and Jon Allen knew they wanted to go into some kind of food business together when they met up at Two Amy’s three years ago. What could you eat every day? they asked one another.
The answer was as clear as the pie on their plates: Neapolitan pizza. It would take Rajpara, a former real estate developer in Dubai, and Allen, a restaurant manager, until November 2011 to launch Pizza CS in Rockville. (The letters stand for “come sempre,” “like always.”) In that time, Rajpara learned the art of the art at the VPN training school in California.
The two business partners tend to be the first things you see when you walk into their pizza parlor. Inevitably, Rajpara is scattering ingredients on a round of dough, and invariably, Allen is taking orders, handing over numbered cards and dispensing easy-drinking wine for those who want something stronger than Diet Coke. Looming behind them is an oak-fired oven made by third-generation craftsmen from Italy using clay from volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius.
The menu is concise, with just a handful of salads preceding the main event. Baby spinach tossed with pancetta, red onion and Gorgonzola dressing would be better if the mix weren’t served in a small metal bowl, just as the pizza would be easier to slice if the knives weren’t flimsy.
None of this is on my mind when the pizza hits my tongue. One happy distraction, the beautifully charred Moto pizza, a white pie, combines petals of Brussels sprouts, pancetta and mozzarella. Another diversion is the simple, satisfying margherita, notable for its tangy tomato sauce and raised lip.
A local product is scooped up for dessert: ice cream from JJ Hoffman’s Creamery in Carroll County. And helping to occupy the youngsters while mom and dad finish their meal are foosball and shuffleboard tables in back.