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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Primo, Where's the Heat?

Recently Maria and I met some friends for lunch at Trattoria di Primo located at 台北市復興南路一段107巷14號1樓. Primo is actually more than just a restaurant, it has an area that sells cheese and wine. Since I was there to eat, I didn't really look too closely at the market. Base on a quick glance, the cheese selection seemed pretty good.

The space of the restaurant is quite pleasant, mostly white walls and table cloths with brown leather chairs. Primo is quite popular and the tables are spaced tightly, but not comfortably.

Primo's menu consists mainly of antipasti, pasta, pizza, and dolci, however, pizza seems to best thing to order. This is because near the entrance of the restaurant is an oven by a Japanese company that claims to be able to heat up to 600C. Primo's menu also emphasizes this hot oven and claims to bake Neapolitan-style pizza in around 90 seconds.

We ordered four different pizzas and the prices range around NT$300 to 400. While we waited for the pizzas to arrive I was busy drinking Pellegrino. The restaurant offers unlimited Pellegrino or Acqua Panna for NT$50 per person. This level of generosity was surprising since typically restaurants pad the bills with the mark-up on beverages.

When the pizzas arrived I was slightly disappointed. The pizzas' ingredients were good and the flavors were fine. The problem was the dough. The bottom was not crisp and charred enough.

When we left the restaurant we passed by the Japanese oven again. This time I noticed the temperature reading on the oven was around 298C. I suspect this was the root of the problem. Typically in order to produce a good Neapolitan-style pizza the oven needs to be much hotter. The oven at Lombardi's in New York City has a temperature of around 450C. The ovens at La Notizia and Da Michele in Napoli both exceed 500C. It seems Primo should know the importance of high heat since it is one of the first to use the Japanese oven capable of reaching 600C. What I don't understand is why Primo doesn't turn up the heat and make some better pizzas.

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