Downtown MV restaurant news, and "Neapolitan" pizza craze
Original post made by Max Hauser, Old Mountain View, on Nov 22, 2013
Four Mountain View restaurants are recommended in the 2014 Bay Area Michelin Guide released last month: Bamboo Garden, Sakoon, Cascal, and Chez TJ (starred). The annual Guide recommends about 500 restaurants that it considers to be among the best 2% or so for the region.
1. Pending restaurant changes in downtown MV
A location of the Little Sheep Mongolian Hotpot Restaurant chain is due to replace Hunan Chili at 102 Castro, per City zoning documents.
A Tartine bakery location is planned for 331 Castro, according to downtown business people familiar with the project.
Cijjo, "Coming "Holiday 2013" to 246 Castro, calls itself a "cosmopolitan tapas-style restaurant and lounge." Cijjo will take over the former Pho Garden site, while Pho Garden moves nearby to 292 Castro.
Doppio Zero is the reincarnation, now underway, of "Pasta?" at 160 Castro to a pizzeria featuring a cook trained to make authentic (VPN*) Neapolitan pizzas. A similar Pasta? conversion in Palo Alto produced Figo. (I haven't asked, but the name Doppio Zero presumably alludes to the famous Caputo "00" pizza flour from Italy.) More info about VPN and the Neapolitan pizzeria fashion, below.
2. "Neapolitan" pizza trend
The Bay Area restaurant industry is currently hot for "Naples-style" pizzerias. One reason is worldwide interest in true ("VPN") Naples-style pizzas (the world's original pizzas), promoted by the VPN trade association. Pizza cooks can take a VPN course, or a restaurant can become VPN-affiliated (a longer and exacting process, subject to spot inspections). Currently, just four Bay Area pizzerias are VPN-certified. Definitive US list:
The VPN restaurant in our part of the Bay Area is Napoletana Pizzeria on El Camino. It happens also to be run by a perfectionist who makes about the best pizzas I've had in 50-plus years of pizzaphilia. (If you aren't experienced with VPN pizzas, be aware that in Naples they're smaller, and served unsliced, on plates, with knife and fork, which really is the best way to enjoy them. If sliced immediately after baking, US-fashion, the tips of the slices may become wet or soft.)
But "Neapolitan" pizza styles are fashionable, even at restaurants with no VPN connections. So the term is used both strictly and loosely. Recently local journalist Jamie Morrow reported "Naples-style pizza is a growing trend on the Peninsula." Parker Hospitality, a restaurant group, announced a deal with Spin! Neapolitan Pizza of Kansas City (which has no VPN connection) for "five restaurants in seven years in San Mateo County, with option to open another five in Santa Clara County." Other "Neapolitan" pizzerias have been opening around the Bay Area. Some, while not VPN-certified restaurants, feature VPN-trained cooks (as at the new Doppio Zero). One such restaurant, Terrone in Palo Alto, now renamed Terún, had website phrasing that misled some people to thinking the restaurant itself was VPN-certified, but the list linked above is the actual authority.