By: Courtney Dabney
True Neapolitan pizza is as much a science as it is an art. The strict ingredients and method of preparation have been protected by Italian law since 1998. Without the correct, imported ingredients (like double zero ground flour, crushed Italian tomatoes, freshly sliced mozzarella cheese and Italian olive oil), you cannot call it Neapolitan.
But pizzeria chain MidiCi has no qualms in claiming itself as guardian and purveyor of this strict recipe.
MidiCi was one of the first tenants to open last spring in the Left Bank development, which includes anchor, Tom Thumb.
Owners Michael and Joanna Crain embraced the pizza chain’s desire to create the feel of dining in an open-air piazza in Italy. MidiCi does just that — complete with its soaring ceiling height and an indoor olive tree to soften the space.
Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, launched MidiCi in 2015, which is currently on a big franchise push. The first Fort Worth location joins a growing North Texas presence, including one already in Dallas and three more opening soon in Preston Hollow, Addison and Euless.
With happy hour specials on its wines by the glass and a nice collection of shareable plates, it’s an ideal spot to meet friends after work. The Bruschetta ($6) has baguette slices rubbed with garlic and olive oil, then toasted to make a crunchy base for fresh diced tomato and garlic blend, topped with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
The House Meat and Cheese Plate ($18) is an extravagant spread and plenty to entertain a table of four to six. It has cubed black truffle, goat and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheeses, along with spicy mustard, olives, walnuts, honey and dried apricots, with slices of prosciutto ham, lacy and delicate, but spicy with calabrese salami and shaved rosemary ham.
You can’t turn out Neapolitan pizza without the right equipment. MidiCi installed two dramatic and sculptural custom pizza ovens, gleaming with their golden hue. Each pizza spends about 90 seconds in those wood-fired ovens, which are stoked to about 1,000 degrees, and voila!
On this trip, I tried the Egg n’ Bacon specialty pizza ($14), but if you don’t find a combo to your liking, you can also build your own masterpiece. This was a nice, sauceless selection, topped with a runny egg in the middle, crumbled spicy sausage, red pepper flakes and creamy mozzarella slices melded together.
The soft, pillowy crust is crispy on the edges, and while some Neo pizza purveyors serve theirs with a soft, even soggy center — this is the classic style of pizza you’ll find served throughout Europe — you can pick up MidiCi slices by hand.
MidiCi opened as a counter service restaurant, which some patrons found confusing. I stopped in on a weeknight in early July — the same night they launched table service, which makes the ordering process more familiar and relaxed.
In addition to the new table service, MidiCi added a handful of pastas and calzones to its menu (it already had some lovely salads), as well as a few new desserts. While MidiCi is famous for its decadent calzone with rich, melty Nutella chocolate spread and fresh berries, I actually preferred a couple of the newcomers.
The Tiramisu ($8.50) is light and airy, soaked in a traditional espresso coffee blend, with whipped cream dusted in more espresso; it’ll wake up your taste buds. And, the Cannoli Siciliani ($8.50) is as good as anything you’d find in New York’s Little Italy. The crispy shell filled with sweetened mascarpone cream, spiked with walnuts and chocolate chips, was spot on.
By: Courtney Dabney