Fried pizza. If that’s not enough to pique your interest, I don’t know what will. I’m not talking some over-the-top, heart-attack-inducing dish like battered, deep-fried Snickers. Fried pizza is an Italian classic, a beloved street food from the pizza capital of Italy: Naples. And now it’s being fried up in Westchester.
When Porta Napoli opened in Harrison in September, the owners (who also own Kesté in NYC) didn’t just bring more than 25 types of wood-fired pizza to the county, they also brought 2 versions of deep-fried pizza. The process is simple: rounds of their Neapolitan-style dough are dropped into hot oil until puffed and golden. The classic Montanara pie is topped simply with tomato, smoked cheese, and basil, and finished in the oven to wick away excess oil and melt the gooey cheese.
At Porta Napoli, pizza starts in the fryer…
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…and ends in the wood-burning oven.
It’s not entirely clear where the idea to fry pizza came from, but one common theory is that street vendors without access to a 900°F pizza oven needed another way to cook dough quickly, and a pot of hot oil was just the ticket. Of course, New York City pizzerias latched onto the trend a few years back, and a flurry of new shops opened serving fried pizza.
The result is surprisingly delicate—somewhere between the pizza we know and love and a rustic fry bread. It’s chewy and tender like you’d expect of Neapolitan pizza, but the center is less crepe-like, more structured, and ever so slightly crisp. And it tastes really, really good.
At Porta Napoli, even better than the Montanara is a decadent version topped with smoked mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, and a touch of truffles, just enough to bring out the mushrooms’ earthiness.
Fried calzone stuffed with cherry tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, ricotta, and salami
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Fried pizza with smoked mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, and a touch of truffles.
The fried calzone stuffed with cherry tomatoes, homemade mozzarella, ricotta, and salami might be better still. It doesn’t resemble those heavy behemoths we’re familiar with, but is light and crispy with a modest amount of supple filling.
If that’s still not enough fried goodness. Porta Napoli also serves arancini—the traditional stuffed rice balls you’ll find at pizza joints throughout Italy. Instead of filling them with traditional Bolognese and peas, Porta Napoli takes a more refined approach, with a whisper of truffle and an almond-panko crust. And for dessert, there’s a heaping mound of dough strips, fried until light and golden and drizzled with oozy Nutella.
261 Halstead Ave