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Pizza outside the box

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Is there room for another wood-fired brick-oven pizza joint? What seemed to be a diminishing restaurant trend in America ten years ago has risen up with a yeasty fervency. Most of these newly opened brick-oven places are making their pies Neapolitan style...thin crusts with simple toppings baked quickly at blistering temperatures. And apparently a lofty baking temperature is what everyone aspires to achieve - restaurants are vaunting the horsepower of their clay-oven engines by adopting thermal-gushing names like 900 Degrees, Blast 825, 800 Degrees, 750 Grill, 600 Degrees, Hellfire Pizza, and so on.

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Most of the restaurants proudly tout their oven's illustrious pedigree:

"The floor of our oven is made with "Biscotto di Sorrento" and each brick is hand pressed in Salerno, Italy."

"The mortar holding the bricks together is made with volcanic sand from Mt. Vesuvius."

"No fewer than half the bricks of our oven were extracted from the ancient ruins of Pompeii."

Of course, the 'imported pizza ingredients' and 'careful handcrafted assembly' always honor Old World tradition. Fifty pound sacks of flour stenciled with "Napoli" print are typically stacked near the kitchen. Displayed prominently are quart cans of San Marzano tomato sauce. The creamy cheeses are from grass-fed beasts, the charcuterie meats are sustainably farmed somewhere in Napa or Parma, and organic herbs and vegetables are locally sourced.

Before we cycle into one big pizza napoletana brick oven, consider venturing beyond the Margherita-urban-rampant influences of Repubblica Italiana and try these other global approaches to pie. View list above.

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