Sophisticated Living Indianapolis

JUL-AUG 2012

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As our passion for food has grown more sophisticated (some might say obsessive), so has our interest in farmstead producers, organic products and authentic preparations. In a move which might have been deemed bold bordering on the foolhardy a decade ago, a handful of intrepid Indianapolis restaurateurs have recently, and independently of each other, taken it upon themselves to expend considerable effort and resources to bring us traditional and authentic Neapolitan-style pizza. And so it was in 2010 that Martha Hoover, founder and owner of immensely popular Café Patachou and Petit Chou, hung the shingle outside her latest venture, Napolese, the first such restaurant in Indianapolis, and one which occupies a unique and lofty niche in the city's already crowded pizza scene. Since she opened the original Patachou in 1989, Hoover has been a driving force in the city's independent restaurant scene, and one of the first to recognize the quality of Indiana's homestead agriculture. Initially sourcing ingredients from as far away as France and California, her cafés have steadily been able to use more Indiana-raised produce and meats as the quality of local products has improved. It's a testament to how far the culinary scene has evolved that Napolese is able to list no fewer than a dozen local growers and producers on its menu. Tere are of course exceptions: if you want to make authentic Neapolitan pizza, you really have to use Italian "00" grano tenero flour and DO San Marzano Tomatoes from Mt. Vesuvius, or it's just not right. Ten there's the matter of the oven. Weighing in at close to two tons, the American-made, gas-assisted Wood Stone behemoth burns at a steady 800 degrees, allowing the ingredients to cook to perfection in just a couple of minutes. It's this kind of heat which, when combined with the stretchy, tender dough and the modestly-proportioned toppings, produces the finest pizzas. Tis isn't your grandfather's pie, however. Tis is food originally intended to be folded and eaten on the go and with the hands, but being a supremely versatile medium, it also lends itself well to the environs of an upscale eatery. 88 slmag.net

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