There are moments in humanity’s history that seem to eclipse all others. These moments capture the essence of human wholeness, harmony, radiance, and innovation. Prehistoric humans controlling fire, Debussy writing “Clair de Lune” in the Suite Bergamasque, Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and Pizza di Napoli in Oak Bluffs introducing four new pizzas to its menu.
Pizza di Napoli previously resided in Edgartown at Nevin Square before moving to the Loft in Oak Bluffs during April last year. Since my first taste a handful of summers ago, I have always had fond memories of ordering a Brobdingnagian-size pizza to eat with friends, family, or a date. I wondered, would a change of scenery alter the precious pizza I had known so well? It did not, and I can tell you that with the utmost cheesy faith (may the pizza deities read on as my witnesses).
My first bite of these newest of pizza initiates came from the Veggie Supremo ($24). Crafted with the utmost dexterity, this most meatless of pizzas came lavished with San Marzano, spinach, roasted pepper, onions, mushrooms, mozzarella, Parmigiano, and olives. Within that first bite I saw in my mind’s eye something blurry, yet so blue. Soon I realized my pizza had brought me to a shoreside town off the coast of Campania before being quickly whisked away to Cremona to listen to Giuseppe Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari trading off violin solos. I had found a new favorite.
The most daring feat undertaken by the menu was that of pineapple on the BBQ Chicken Pizza ($23). Initially, I balked at the audacity of pineapple committing some topping faux pas on la mia pizza Napoletana. I was startled; would this topping terrorize my palette? Would I become lost from the lovely flit of violin music or the azure sea off Naples enchanting my gaze?
My apprehension proved to be unwarranted — I would be safe to float along in my Italian daydream, for this was no mere olio. The pineapple proved to be not only harmless, but quite tasty. For someone who doth not request such a topping, the pineapple fused agreeably with the BBQ chicken.
While I ordered a beer, Alex Edelinski, a bartender at the Loft, told me his favorite was the BBQ chicken, specifically due to its pineapple properties. The BBQ chicken pizza originally did not contain pineapple, so Edelinski, who described his pizza consumption as being “a lot,” asked the chef if he could bring in his own pineapple in order to have a special pizza made just for him. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, just make it for me,’” Edelinski said.
Chicken made a second guest appearance on the Buffalo Chicken Pizza ($23), for which I had interstellar expectations. Once upon a time, I made the trek from New England to Western New York at the insistence of my best friend Blaze, a Buffalo native, who introduced me to true Buffalo sauce. Attempting to imitate such a legendary sauce deserves recognition in itself, and Pizza di Napoli makes a strong bid for most delicious non-Buffalo Buffalo sauce. The pancetta, onions, fontina, mozzarella, and clever touch of scallions rounded out the pizza with a tantalizing texture.
The final new menu addition was the Hawaiian Pizza ($23), complete with San Marzano, roasted chicken, pancetta, pineapple, mozzarella, scallions, onions, and pineapple. The zesty, fun sweetness of the pineapple dances in the mouth in pirouettes and arabesques, complemented by the overt tones of pancetta, chicken, and cheese, and applauded by the scallions and onions.
While each pizza entertained singly with unique quirks and charisma of its own, the common link was the immaculate dough. The stone-fired baking process creates a crunchy yet soft tabula rasa upon which toppings of high-quality meats and fresh vegetables may lay asunder, and that will make any sane person never want to leave the crust behind on their plate.
Connoisseurs of finely created pizza will delight in knowing Pizza di Napoli offers hefty portions — its pizzas are a colossal 18 inches, which the menu claims is 27 percent larger than any other pizza you’ll find on-Island.
After voraciously eating several slices of pizza, I spoke with Loft owner J.B. Blau. The nontraditional Neapolitan-style pizzas came in part from Blau and Pizza di Napoli owner Joe Montero wanting to serve a broader group of pizza consumers. “It’s been fun,” Blau said of serving up new flavors for customers. “We’re not trying to be disrespectful to authentic-style Neapolitan pizza, but we’re trying to be respectful to paying our bills.”
Blau said he has loved Montero’s pizza since its Edgartown days, and has been excited to team up and have it offered at the Loft. “This is really a passion project. I’m just really happy to have it for my family and my staff.”
The Loft, 9 Oak Bluffs Ave., Oak Bluffs, is open 5 pm to 11 pm Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and 5 pm to 1 am on Friday and Saturday. Pizza di Napoli takeout is available seven days a week by calling 508-696-3000 or visiting loftob.com.