Before I talk about the food itself, let me tell you briefly about what makes this pizza joint different from some of the other pie places in town. In the restaurant name, you'll see the words "Pizzeria Napolitana." What that means is that the type of pizza served at Bollini's is Neapolitan pizza, which has specific guidelines a pizza maker must follow before they can claim that their pizzas are truly Neapolitan.
For example, the specification clearly states that a pizza must have a 0.1" thick base, (a little more than a credit card), must use fresh mozzarella, must be thrown by hand, must use Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and must be cooked in an 800F (or higher) wood-fired oven for no more than 90 seconds. These guidelines are governed by The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association in Italy. Look below for some links you may find interesting.
American Chapter of VPNA
Original Italian VPNA
Detailed English Translation of Specifications
Now that we've got some learning out of the way, let's get on the topic of the food itself. First off, our tasting menu was pretty extensive. It included an appetizer, 3 salads, 2 pizzas, 3 pastas, an entre and a dessert and that didn't include the additional 3 pizzas our table ordered. Safe to say, we had to be rolled out the door, but wow, it was worth it.
We started off with fire roasted mushrooms stuffed with crab and Parmesan, which I enjoyed. It was a great starter for the extravaganza to follow. Of the three salads that came our way, my favorite was the Arugula Salad. The bite of the arugula was a wonderful backdrop to the sweet corn, the smoked bacon, goat cheese and the other ingredients that made up this salad.
Being a thin crust pizza lover, all the pizzas rocked my world in that respect. As you bit into the pizza, you'd notice a slight chewiness, but then you'd get to the cracker thin crispness of the crust which I liked a lot. When it came to the pizzas I liked the best, they were all absolutely delicious, but I was really drawn to the Lu-Lu, the Nonna and the Sardinia.
Usually when you think of pineapple on pizza, Canadian bacon is normally the accompaniment, but the ingredients for the Lu-Lu are comprised of a red sauce, cheese, bacon, pineapple, garlic, and basil. The bacon on the Lu-Lu was crispy pieces of appled smoked bacon as opposed to the more ham-like Canadian bacon. I also really enjoyed the addition of the garlic and basil leaves which added a wonderfully different flavor dimension to this classic pineapple pizza.
If you're a sausage and cheese lover, than you should definitely check out the Nonna. With mozzarella, fontina and Parmesan as part of the ingredients, this pizza is a cheese lover's delight and when you taste the sweet fennel sausage, which is Chef Bollini's recipe, this pizza is simply a must try.
From land to ocean, the last pizza I wanted to mention was the Sardinia. Yummy! If you think seafood on pizza is the way to go, you'll enjoy biting into this one with ingredients that include olive oil, calamari, anchovy, capers, onions, olives, tomatoes, mozzarella and black pepper. The flavors were bold and I just loved the savory saltiness that the anchovies and capers added to this pizza.
When it came to pasta dishes, what I liked about all of them was that the actual pasta itself was cooked al dente, more on the firm side. There's nothing more unappealing than mushy overcooked pasta. Of the three we tried, my favorite was the Pasta Del Postino, which was farfalle pasta with chicken, wild mushrooms, asparagus, shallots, peas, herbs, garlic and a gorgonzola cream sauce. I was already getting quite full, but I still finished my helping and even went for seconds.
As for the last 2 dishes, both are not currently on the menu but were made specifically for our group. One dish was a Branzino with peperonata and chard. The fish was cooked perfectly. It was light, moist and delicate. Our dessert, also off the menu, was a pastry crust with cinnamon and sugar stuffed with apples topped with ice cream. This dessert was actually cooked in their 800-degree wood-fire oven, which gave this dessert a wonderful carmelization.
Overall, this was an amazing meal and the pizzas were truly heavenly. This tiny restaurant may not look very fancy, but wow, the food is definitely fine dining all the way.
To see pics, go to:
Bollini's Pizzeria Napolitana
2315 S Garfield Ave
Monterey Park, CA 91754