Pizza with a garlic-pepper-ricotta sauce from River City Wood Fire (Photo by Jay Paul)
The earliest example of pizza as we know it had a rustic, tomato-based sauce and was sold to 16th-century peasants on the streets of Naples. Red still rules among purists, but the jury’s out on the best method. Because pizza styles differ, red sauce needs to complement tastes and textures. A thinner, tangier sauce works well with the lightly charred Neapolitan crust, for example, while a deep-dish can handle a thicker sauce with more flavor.
- BELMONT PIZZERIA > The Nuara family brings a taste of Sicily to Richmond, cooking up more than 13 gallons of red sauce daily using old family recipes that lean on fresh herbs and garlic.
- 8 1/2 > Toppings seem almost secondary at this Fan favorite, where a satisfyingly chewy crust supports a swath of bright red sauce with enough garlic to give it a good kick.
- JOE'S INN > Just as Joe’s massive servings of red sauce pasta draw a loyal following, the Fan restaurant’s red sauce pizza attracts aficionados with its classic flavor and texture.
Let’s start by admitting that the term “white sauce pizza” is a bit of a misnomer —often, white pizza doesn’t even have a true sauce, relying instead on a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of cheese to serve as its base. Without the distraction of tomato sauce, the pizza’s toppings can really shine, whether they’re a carefully balanced selection of cheeses, a handful of briny clams, or seasonal veggies.
- MELLOW MUSHROOM > A simple olive oil and garlic base on the Gourmet White pizza highlights the flavorful crust and a blend of mozzarella and provolone cheeses with a scattering of tangy feta.
- RIVER CITY WOOD FIRE > This mobile oven offers two options with a garlic-pepper-ricotta base: the citrusy Lemon Boy and the bacon-topped 64 West.
- GRAFFIATO > The White House crust can barely handle the weight of this cheese powerhouse: mozzarella, ricotta and taleggio melt beneath the combo of prosciutto and black pepper honey.
Elizabeth, Giuseppe and Frank Carollo in the kitchen at Frank's Ristorante & Pizzeria (Photo by Stephanie Breijo)
All About That Base
Sicilian Frank Carollo perfected his pizza sauce while learning Italian-American cuisine in Manhattan, and brought it with him to Richmond in 1978. He makes that same sauce to this day — every day — in his Bon Air restaurant, Frank’s Ristorante & Pizzeria. What’s one secret? Carollo, his wife Elizabeth and his son Giuseppe use three varieties of fresh tomatoes, extracting seeds and skin for roughly one hour until it’s smooth. “If people like it,” Carollo says, “why you wanna change it?”—Stephanie Breijo