Usually when a new pizza place is set to open I’m in the majority that says, “Really? Another one?” But when that restaurant is opened by a guy that’s the six-time World Pizza Champion, you absolutely have to pay attention!
The place I’m talking about is Amore in the Springdale section of Stamford (right by the train station) and while Amore is not new to locals, it is revamped and its menu more creative and current. The man behind Amore and all the acclaim is Bruno DiFabio, who came full circle after he acquired the existing Amore, where he worked as a kid. When DiFabio opened his first restaurant in Westchester County in 1993, he asked Amore’s previous owner if, as a tribute, he could name his first place after it.
|Viewfinder. Epic. Haven’t seen one in like 20 years.|
Shortly after Amore re-opened, I was invited to stop by for a pizza feast and then some, but the notion that it’s “just another pizza place?” Hell no, it’s not. It’s better.
|Live yeast! This is part of the science used in DiFabio’s lab.|
What makes Amore great, for starters, is DiFabio’s love (or lust) for his craft. When he sat down to pitch us some of his pizza knowledge, I quickly realized that he’s a pizza supernerd, and it was all just so interesting. He explained his two different types of pies, round and square (more on this if you KEEP READING), how the dough formula is more digestible than most, and one of his now not-so-secrets that the yeast he uses is live that was hand foraged from the Dolomites in Italy that he feeds so it regenerates. It was all so cool that I wanted to hop back there by the pizza oven and take up an apprenticeship.
Leading the kitchen and bringing his own brand of superior creativity is Chef Jared Falco, a familiar face to some in Fairfield County when he was Washington Prime’s exec chef. Falco’s appearance came as a surprise to some at the series of dinners, just not to me. I had the inside scoop but was sworn to secrecy over multiple beers. Either way, I knew with the combo of DiFabio and Falco that I was in for terrific meal.
I started this blogger’s dinner off right, with one of the handful of specialty cocktails that Amore offers, but soon after I switched to beer when I found out our meal was to begin with pizza. Sure, wine lovers, they have THAT too, but beer & pizza has and always will be my groove.
|Bread comin’ atcha!|
|The Holy Cheesus: House mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Romano, fontina, agrodolce|
|Juliet: House mozzarella, Gorgonzola dolce, fig jam, prosciutto, agrodolce|
|New Haven White: Little neck clams, Amore bacon, house mozzarella, smoked lemon juice|
When the pizzas (five of them) arrived I couldn’t even move as I tried to decide which one to dig into first. We received three round pies and two square. The round pies are the tradition Neapolitan style that you’ve likely seen in the area. The dough is slightly chewy, not lacking for salt, and when cooked for 90 seconds in a 900° wood-fired oven the dough will blister and blacken a bit. The square pies are thicker, and are both bready and light, it’s somewhere in between. That first bite is met with a crunch, followed by softness. The square pizzas are cooked in a 600° gas-fired brick oven, in a steel pan for about 15 minutes.
|For The Queen. Clearly for the king. Me. OMG.|
|Pitt Master. Need. Now.|
My favorite of the pies was the traditional Margherita that Amore has dubbed For The Queen. You can’t beat a classic and the addition of a runny local egg in the middle of the pie is a heck of an addition. The whole “egg on a pizza” thing might be new to most, it was my first time having it on a classic Margherita, but DiFabio told us that it’s something they’ve been doing in Italy for a very long time. Another pizza highlight was the Pitt Master (pulled pork, pickled red onion, mozzarella, BBQ sauce, agave nectar) that won its creator Grand Champion honors at the Hudson Valley Food Challenge.
|Ya gotta have balls, right? #meatballporn|
|Shrimp & Polenta w/tomato, house bacon.|
|Lasagna Balls = Drool! My heart hurts but I like the pain!|
|That Scarp though…|
Our post-pizza plates were plentiful, and Chef Falco certainly showcases his strong evil genius game at Amore by not only coming up with some cool ideas but by taking classic Italian dishes and putting his own spin on them. That very “thing” was showcased in my new guilty pleasure, deep fried Lasagna Balls (they are what you think they are) with Bolognese. It was better than fried mozzarella, better than regular old lasagna, and obviously a fat kid treat. I want to eat these in my room, alone, with no one watching. A truly improved classic dish is Falco’s Chicken Scarpariello that uses fried chicken and house made sausage. The chicken was crispy and juicy and he doesn’t kill the dish with too many peppers.
|Whole roasted fish program. This is the bronzino. They plan to add more and change things up.|
|That carbonara is love.|
A few other dishes that were brought out as a bonus and perhaps with a little nudging on my part were a whole-roasted Bronzino that gets points for presentation but for being moist and flaky too. One more goodie that I had to try was the Fettucini Carbonara made the right way. For you rookies, that’s WITHOUT CREAM, WITH EGG YOLKS (not whites), and GUANCIALE. Had I not been stuffed already I would have eaten the entire dish.
|A tender but crispy and very photogenic octopus.|
|Bringing the heat…Tuna Crudo|
Falco’s other inventive plates are the already much blogged about Octopus Puttanesca and a Tuna Crudo that brings the heat with the use of Calabrian chiles.
|Butterscotch budino, whipped cream, fat pizzele.|
If you’re curious, we did get dessert but by then I was done for. This was a true marathon meal but Amore’s “Neo-Neapolitan” food was expressed in full. Usually when I attend these events I typically can find a few things I’ll come back for or a section of the menu I like more than the others, but everything at Amore hit the mark. Sure, I’ll go back for pizza, but I’ll order a bunch of other things too.
DiFabio & Falco, the New Dynamic Duo? I doubt Batman & Robin can make pizza 😛
Amore Cucina & Bar
921 Hope Street
Stamford, CT 06907
Bruno DiFabio’s Instagram: @pizzascience
|“Peace out homies!” — Dean Martin|