Orlando, FL: Cheesy Pies and Hacked Ovens at Pharmacy
8060 Via Dellagio Way #106 Orlando, FL 32819 (map); 321-837-9463; thetableorlando.com
Pizza style: It doesn't cleanly fall into any category. New York-ish, with some Neapolitan elements and a Midwest-sized portion of cheese.
Oven type: Modified standard oven.
The skinny: Excellent crisp, chewy crust and a ton of cheese. Great for soaking up a few drinks.
Folks in Orlando seem smitten by The Table, Tyler Brassil and Loren Falsone's family-style, fixed-menu concept that is part restaurant, part supper-club. It's a nice space, and the food I tried there was pretty darn good. But the real secret is next door at Pharmacy, their cocktail bar.
The place is styled after a speakeasy, but it's best to forget that bit. It's almost painful how cheesy the speakeasy aspect of it is. Standing outside a fake elevator door stuck into the side of a 1-story stripmall and pushing a button to reveal that—whoah! It's not an elevator at all!—it's a bar, reminds me just how close it is to Epcot Center.
But inside, you'll find well-conceived cocktails and a menu that lets the chefs showcase their skills without the trappings, both figurative and literal, of the sit-down prix-fixe—no menu options to speak of—that's on offer at their neighboring establishment.
The best thing on the small bites-based menu is the pizza. It lies somewhere around a small New York-style pie in terms of size, but a generous hand with the cheese puts it into far heavier territory. Normally, this would throw things off balance; in this case, the crust is substantial and crisp enough, the cheese tasty enough, that it works.
A blend of mozzarella, funky caciocavallo, and Taleggio, it's gooey without the overwhelming weight that an all-mozz pie can have.
Glancing at the underbelly, you'd think that there's some sort of dedicated pizza-oven situation going on in the kitchen—if not a wood fire, then at the very least a high-powered deck oven. But that's not the case. What they're actually working with is a standard commercial oven...sort of. "We ripped the thermostat out," explains Chef Falsone. When cranked to the max, it runs at about 900°F. The pizzas are cooked on aluminum pans and come out puffed and crisp.
I talked with Chef Falsone for a few minutes about their actual process—how they make the dough, what flour they use, their fermentation period, etc. She was remarkably laid back about it, even telling me that "we use whatever flour comes to our door."
Proof positive that great pizza continues to come in all shapes and sizes and it ain't just the hardcore pizza nerds who are pulling it off. Those G&T's with house-made tonic certainly don't hurt either.
About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.