Last night on the Bowery, quite a pizza scene was taking place: the opening of Master Neapolitan Pizzaiolo Giulio Adriani’s second Forcella pizza joint. With an appearance by Bobby Flay, a vocal performance by Adriani’s cousin—straight off the boat from Naples—and lotsa pizza and snacks being shuffled through the crowd, the positive energy was palpable. I have a feeling this place is going to be busy for quite a while…
The 65-seat Forcella is anchored by a black and white, mosaic-tiled wood-fired oven imported from Italy. Within, 1,000 degrees of serious heat awaits Adriani’s signature pizzas. Tables in front, a stool-lined bar, and more tables in back are available for lunch and dinner services, while wine and beer round out the menu. The space is cozy and warm with vertically placed white subway tiles backing the open pizza kitchen, antique finished mirrors, exposed brick walls, and a tin ceiling. It feels more Naples than NYC, and that’s a very good thing.
Likes its sister restaurant in Williamsburg, Forcella’s menu features an assortment of Antipasti, Insalate and about twenty of Adriani’s pies from Pizze Rosse (red sauce) to Pizze Bianche (white sauce) and Pizze Fritte (fried). To whet your palate, start with either the Arancino, tomato and mozzarella rice balls ($2.50), or the Crochetta ($3), a potato and smoked mozzarella croquette. For those craving their daily dose of greens, try the Sorrento salad, which is comprised of arugula, tomatoes, almonds, berries and ricotta salata. Then, move onto the main event: the pizza.
The standout is the flash-fried Montanara ($10), one of three Pizze Fritte offerings. Adriani learned this traditional recipe in his grandmother’s kitchen in Naples, and while “fried” pizza might scare off the health-conscious, there’s no reason to worry; Adriani’s versions are light and lack grease. Entirely delicious, the crust tastes faintly like zeppoli, the traditional Italian dessert, only this version is topped with a simple red sauce and house-made mozzarella as opposed to sugar.
To make the Montanara, the dough is flash-fried for thirty seconds, then sauced, cheesed, and finished in the traditional pizza oven. The dip in the fryer adds puffiness to the dough while creating a chewy crust with crispy, golden bubbles. If you’re going to go flash-fried, do it at Forcella where the skinny guy with the scraggly goatee, Giulio Adriani, is a bonafide master. Adriani’s double certified as an authentic Neapolitan Pizza Maker by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletanna (AVPN) and the Associazione Pizaiuoli Napoletani (APN), and with three decades of experience, two (now three) restaurants—one near Rome, Alla Corte dei Borboni and Forcella, La Pizza Di Napoli, which opened in Brooklyn last June—this is the guy you want making your pies.
If you’re not up for the flash-fried, the red sauce Materdei ($15), which is topped with hot salami, or the white sauce Decumani ($16), with homemade mozzarella, truffle oil, arugula and pecorino, were my alternative favorites. And, if you’re still longing for more pizza at dessert, the Pizze Alla Nutella ($10), a pizza stuffed with Nutella and almonds takes a love of pizza to the next level.