Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fun Playing With Calzone

When last I blogged about the Cincinnati Ohio-based chain, Dewey's Pizza, I received passionate comments about the calzone served there. I adore calzone, which I ate more than my share of as a college and law student in New York City. I will never forget the day that Bob visited me when I lived in Montclair (NJ), and we took the PATH Train into New York from Hoboken NJ - we stopped to get awesome calzones from a little pizzaria right outside the train station. Bob was amazed - he'd never had a calzone before!

Well, having lived in Cleveland for 13 years now, I fully understand why Bob was so ignorant of the charms of a great calzone. My office is on Mayfield Road, surrounded by numerous independently owned pizza stores, and not one of them seems to know how to make a delicious calzone. In addition to the usual pizza related issues of "easy bake" (conveyor belt) ovens and crummy sauce (or - horrors - sauce put inside the calzone) - no one in these parts puts ricotta cheese in their calzone, and it is not an option!

My readers assured me that Dewey's calzone was made the "right" way. I finally had occasion to try it, and I'm sorry to report, it lacked profundity.

The filling in the Dewey's calzones starts with mozzerella and (yea!) ricotta cheeses, and the diner then selects three additional items from the "toppings" list. I chose spinach (fresh and not frozen!), whole roasted garlic (intense!) and basil.

First, the good news. The sauce, served properly on the side, was not as sweet as I remembered it, and actually had a bit of chile zing.

And indeed - the indescribable taste and texture of the ricotta was included. But the large dough pocket wasn't as fully stuffed as I would expect (though the fillings themselves tasted delicious). Moreover, after a few bites I realized that the product was practically swimming in a pool of grease (and it didn't taste like EVOO - it tasted like grease).

A quick flip over explained part of the problem.

As you can see, the bottom is not at all crisped, and bears the hatch marks of a pan in addition to a layer of grease. A good calzone, like a good pizza, should make full contact with the floor of the oven to get the ideal texture. Moreover, the dough didn't have any real flavor or unctuous mouthfeel.

The texture of the bottom crust improved when I re-heated my leftover calzone half in the toaster oven for another lunch. But it was only then that I discovered that they had totally skimped on the ricotta - the half I had left didn't have any!

So - I guess Dewey's remains on my list of ok, but nothing to go out of my way for. Though any calzone with ricotta is worth playing with!

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