“We just ran out of dough” is not what you want to hear when you sit down, famished, at a pizzeria. A spritelike waitress bore bread with the bad news; the last two pies had just been ordered by the family of six one table over. I glowered. I leered. I sulked. Couldn’t they have just shared one pie?
I’d daydreamed about pizza the whole drive out here, “here” being Andorra, just northwest of Roxborough, home to two-month-old Pizzeria DiMeo’s, owned by father and son Pino and Antimo DiMeo. I’d heard about their dough, coaxed together with water, salt and 00 flour. I’d heard about the oven, capable of cooking pies to a Neapolitan puff in 90 seconds. About the tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella imported from Campania. The H2O gets shipped in from the old country, too, carbon footprint be damned. DiMeo’s is the anti-locavore pizza, albeit no less artisanal, with pies made strictly according to the soft-centered Naples school.
I wish I could tell you what they taste like. “Because we prepare the dough a couple days in advance, says 19-year-old Antimo, “it’s not like we can whip a fresh batch together when we run out.”
Fortunately, DiMeo’s is a pizzeria that excels in more than just pizza. Like the backlit model Mount Vesuvius on the wall, the menu erupts with simple but staggeringly good Italian cooking.
If there’s someplace serving better mussels, I don’t know it. Sun-dried tomatoes, creamy cannellini beans (some mashed), white wine and the bivalves’ natural brine created a dynamic liquid. You can also get the mussels red, made with trumpeted San Marzano tomatoes. Sweet, vivid, almost prickly with acidity, they’re the heartbeat of many dishes here. Simmered in the San Marzanos with onion, the meatballs were ablaze with brightness. While basil murmured through a pan of potato gnocchi alla Sorrentina, the same flavor-dense marinara kept the sweet leaves in check.
Another pasta, the lauded “di Gragnano” — dried in the mountain air of the Napoletano town of the same name, it’s “the best dry pasta in the world,” says Antimo — got the same tomato treatment, though the paccheri tubes were as much a credit to the beauty of this dish. Dense, firm and snappy, the pasta chewed like something of consequence.
I’m coming back for a pizza. But also for much more than that.
8500 Henry Ave., 215-621-6134, pizzeriadimeos.com. Open Mon.-Wed., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Thu.-Sat., 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Appetizers and sides, $3-$12; paninis, $8-$9; pastas, $14-$17; pizzas, $9-$13.