Arlington residents and commuters are known to line up expectantly around the Ballston metro every Thursday and Friday afternoon in search of authentic Neopolitan pizza. It is here that the Pupatella food cart would park two days a week and open up shop for half the day, turning out some of the best street side pizza around. The bright red stand has disappeared of late, but regular patrons can rest assured that there is no need to panic just yet. You see owners Enzo Algarme and Anatasiya Laufenberg have temporarily put the truck on hold while they devote full attention to their new stationary pizzeria, also named Pupatella, which is operational a full five days a week.
The restaurant, located just North of Ballston off of Wilson Blvd, not only offers the advantage of extended business hours, but also more ample menu offerings. Diners can customize their pizza or panuozzo (baked sandwich) from a whole new host of tantalizing options, like goat cheese, eggplant or smoked salmon. Another thing going for it is the addition of gelato, and the inclusion of arancino, the fried risotto balls which had their own loyal following when hot off the little red cart.
At the heart of the smallish dining space is a brick pizza oven made in Italy that can reach temperatures between 800 and 1,000 degrees. This translates into pies that require a mere one minute of cooking time, and emerge from the smoldering cave blistered, yet still soft, crispy and light. This style of crust makes it definitively Neopolitan, as does its simple topping of crushed Italian tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. While the food cart produced surprisingly good results out of its gas oven, the new wood burning oven allows Algarme and Laufenberg to achieve the requisite heat for what they consider to be the optimal crust.
The couple plans to get their original cart back on the streets once they have a handle on the steady stream of business already filling the new shop. Until then, Ballston regulars will just have to meander a little bit off their regular path where they can enjoy the luxury of having a table and glass of wine to enjoy with their pizza.
<As previously published by Molly Zemek on June 2, 2010 in the Arlington Food Examiner.>