Last month I had an amazing pizza in the North End of Boston. It had a crispy, thin crust, a spattering of goat cheese, some figs, and a topping of fresh arugula. Not traditional by any means, but all the better for it. It haunted me, as much for its taste as for its simple rustic charm, and when I found a few similar recipes online I decided to try my hand at it.
Now, I’m not good with dough, especially pizza dough. It’s so… messy. And sticky. And it doesn’t ever do what you want it to do. I’m not one of those people who likes to “play” in the kitchen either. Aside from the occasional piece of pasta thrown at the wall (for what purpose again?) I don’t really mess around. So, rolling out the pizza dough was my least favorite part of this whole pizza-making process, and one I did rather poorly. I wanted thin crust, but this thing just puffed up like the stay-puffed marshmallow man. It wasn’t pretty – at least, it wasn’t quite what I was after. But that was the only part that didn’t work.
I assembled this version with goat cheese, some mozzarella (we had to use it up), figs, and arugula, but I added some bacon as well, and finished it off with something that, in my humble opinion, surpassed the original: a balsamic honey reduction that was both sweet and savory, and a veritable orgasmic explosion for the taste-buds.
There’s something about a wine or vinegar reduction that is magical. I don’t know the science of it, or why it works so well, but it’s sublime. And on a pizza like this, well, it’s beyond good. Obviously, it couldn’t quite recapture the exact alchemy of the North End original (that was truly a special event), but it came close, and brought me back to the freshness of a summer day, when a weekend in Boston was laid out before me, and I had nothing to do but soak it all up.