To be honest, this column was supposed to be about something else entirely. However, a quick Friday night bite at Stagioni (715 Providence Road), the third restaurant in the Moffett Restaurant Group arsenal (which also includes Barrington's and Good Food on Montford), before a concert last week and here we are, ready to talk about pizza. Not just any pizza, either. The one with clams and mussels on it. I know what you're thinking.
"Clams and mussels? On pizza?"
Yes. Clams and mussels on pizza. Now, hear me out.
Executive chef Larry Schreiber created a number of unique combinations for the wood-fired pizzas made from scratch. The Brussels sprouts pizza with parsnip puree and pancetta comes to mind. It does this whole sweet and creamy mixed with bitter and salty thing that I love. Then this pizza, the one with clams and mussels on it, presented itself on the menu. What Brussels sprouts pizza? Never heard of it.
Allow me to recommend you arrive early and grab a seat at the bar with a friend. Reservations are slightly precarious since the place is brand-spanking-new. Order a frosty beverage (they have prosecco on tap, you know) and share a smattering of snacks and small plates, including this pizza.
The dough is made in house, rolled out to about 10 inches in diameter. That is, large enough to share with friends or to be devoured as a personal pie. The pizza is then smeared with a cauliflower puree and topped with house-made ricotta, creamy and airy light, smoky Benton's bacon, roasted cauliflower bits, mozzarella cheese and a combination of mussels and clams steamed with garlic, olive oil and white wine for a tender, meaty chew that stands in perfect opposition to the crisp, thin crust. The result is the collision of sea and smoke with nutty cauliflower, melted cheese and clouds of ricotta dolloped in all the right places. My. New. Jam.
This dish will cost you 15 clams. (Sorry, couldn't help myself.)
Got a favorite dish in Charlotte? Share it with me at [email protected].