Authentic Italian pizza in Houston. Is it possible?
While searching for a good Italian restaurant in Houston, I came across “Dolce Vita” which advertises itself as an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria. Based on the number of good reviews of their pizzas on Yelp, I was excited to try it myself.
When you are as big of a traveler and a foodie as I am, you start to notice and judge restaurants and cafes based on a lot of little details… which of course comes from your experience. Trying different authentic cuisines in the original countries is truly the best treat and often you realize that you will never experience the same flavors and aromas again unless you are in France, Italy, Spain etc. Each time I visit Italy, I make the most of my experience… I’m not referring to the “tourist trap” restaurants, but the local hot spots full of local people. I have found that these places are where you can get some of the best meals of your life! (and I don’t think I’m exaggerating here). When I think of authentic Italian pizzerias, there is one place in the Trastevere area of Rome that always comes to my mind. It’s essentially just a big room cluttered with a lots of table, and you hear only Italian speech. You don’t understand a thing, but familiar words like “gelato” or “buonasera ” make you feel like you a part of this big Italian family. That’s where I learned what Italian pizza is supposed to look and taste like. Oven-baked, crispy, thin crust with mouth-watering toppings and perfect amount of sauce. The pizza just melts in your mouth and leaves an extraordinary taste of oregano or basil. Being hungry for an authentic Italian pizza I walked in into “Dolce Vita”.
The atmosphere in the restaurant is relaxing and cheerful at the same time. On the first floor, there is a choice of patio seating or a few tables next to the bar. The second floor offers more seating and has a homey feel to it with full of dark wood furniture. It’s obvious that the place is popular and crowded. In fact, they have crammed in a few too many tables upstairs such that it is difficult for the wait staff to maneuver around the guests. At the end of the evening my husband was very frustrated with waitresses and servers who had been constantly bumping his chair.
We chose two appetizers to sample before our pizzas. When the first appetizer arrived, I cannot call it anything other than artiJOKES. On a plate there were four tiny pieces of the tops of artichokes. For $6, I felt that we were robbed. They were definitely not worth the price. The second appetizer was a salad of beets, horseradish and walnuts. It was a decent snack, but nothing special really. It’s easily something that can be made at home without spending a five bucks on it.
Although I was not happy with the appetizers, I must admit after trying some of their pizzas I was quite pleased. Their proscuitto e rucola pizza is a definite recommendation – beautiful tomato sauce that is portioned just right. And, proscuitto and rucola just seems to go hand and hand together. Their melanzane pizza is also a nice pizza full of good flavors of mozzarella and eggplant. The only downside to this pizza is almost doesn’t have a crust. A true Italian pizza crust should be crispy and sturdy enough so you can pick up a slice and it still will hold the topping on it. This one did not measure up. Overall it’s a good pizza, but you will need a fork and knife to eat it. Another pizza, salsiccia e friarielli contained smoked bufala, sausage, and rapini. This pizza has a bit of an unusual taste to it due to the rapini and the smoked cheese and was just a bit too dry for my taste. Although the menu doesn’t state it, I was expecting tomato sauce on the pizza and this one didn’t have any. My mistake, I guess. By the way… be prepared to pay an extra two dollars for additional little bowl of tomato sauce.
The dinner was finished with some coffee, which came to our table lukewarm. For me, it’s the same as if ice cream would be served a bit melted. But if you don’t mind that, don’t be bothered with it as the coffee tasted just fine.
Overall it was an okay experience. If you are looking for some European style pizza, why not come here. You will get a decent pizza and nice atmosphere. I would definitely recommend skipping the appetizers due to the lack of value.