Wellington, New Zealand: Pizza Pomodoro
Slice has a pen pal over in New Zealand who checks in with this report on Pizza Pomodoro in Wellington. Will F. also tipped us to Al Volo in Auckland, New Zealand, late last year. —The Mgmt.
Words and Photo by Will F. | Pizza Pomodoro is a precious nugget of toothsomeness that sits nestled in an alley off of an alley. It also sits next to an alley. It's hidden enough that entering its two-table dining space, if it weren't for the neon sign on the facade, would feel like entering the headquarters of some kind of secret society.
Behind a counter crammed with a variety of ingredients—from the traditional mozzarella di bufala and basil to the progressive egg and avocado—chief pizzaiolo Massimo Tolve works at a clipped pace stretching balls of dough into rounded squares about 30 cm (11 3/4 inches) across and distributing toppings with concise movements, all the while rapping with the customers, who are often regulars.
And it's no wonder that people keep returning. The pizzas are magnificent. Tolve, a native Neapolitan himself, learned the art of pizza-making in his hometown. He bakes them in a manuka-woodburning oven for about two minutes each in temperatures hovering between 400 and 425°C (750 to 800°F). The results are pizzas that have, in the Neapolitan tradition, a paper-thin crust with a light and pillowy cornicione and dots of charring that pepper the underside. The finished pies are quickly slotted into brown cardboard boxes and sliced (no plates here—with only two tables, Pomodoro is largely a pick-up and delivery outfit).
I tried Pomodoro's Bufalina (tomato sauce, mozzarella di bufala, basil, and olive oil) and its Pollo (Italian white sauce, smoked chicken, camembert, mushrooms, and avocado). The Bufalina's cheese and basil were sparsely distributed on a shallow sea of red. The oven left its mark with a smokiness, the sauce was sweet but also had a slight bitter aftertaste, the cheese was velvety and subtle, the basil had a light aroma, and the oil lent a richness. It was well balanced pizza. While I'm a traditionalist and the Pollo is about as far from traditional in terms of toppings as you can get (Camembert?! Avocado? Sacrilege!), I find it hard to say that this pizza wasn't actually delicious. The white sauce, avocado, and camembert combined for a creamy smoothness and were counterpointed by the dainty slices of savory chicken populating the pizzascape.
Robust is probably the best way to describe the pizza here, both in flavor and character. Anyone who's willing to look hard enough to find this semi-secret pizza haven will be well rewarded.
Address: 13 Leeds Street, Hannah's Warehouse, PO Box 27198, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: 04 381 2929