It’s a tale that’s been told at least twice locally in the last couple of years: Someone has brought secret Italian family recipes to America to dazzle diners, and he opens a place, first in Dallas and then in Fort Worth. Campisi’s gets credit for being the original joint to feature Nonna’s old country cooking here before Cane Rosso appeared two years ago. The shtick at the fourth Olivella’s outpost (besides its claim that the recipes come from the “third oldest pizza family in Naples”) is that both the Neapolitan thick crust and the thin, dainty Roman-style pizza are on the menu. However, both types of pie are cooked in a wood-fired oven, so whatever crust you prefer will have lovely, bubbly char marks. Olivella’s offers 17 different types of pies, but if nothing on the menu appeals to you, create your own from the 31 standalone toppings.
6333 Camp Bowie West, FW. 817-439-7676. 11am-10pm Sun-Thu, 11am-10:30pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
On my recent visit, the white (sauceless) Neapolitan pizza with clams came topped with a plethora of tender mollusks, a restrained amount of garlic, olive oil, and Pecorino Romano cheese baked onto the dense base. The chewy, thick crust was good enough to finish to the doughy outer edges (called the cornicione, if you’re fancy). My server mentioned that each Olivella’s restaurant has a featured specialty item, and Fort Worth’s happens to be clams. Both the clam pizza and the Rockefeller, which included wilted spinach and prosciutto with the shellfish, are unique to this store.
The Pizza Romano’s extremely thin, crunchy crust definitely had more of a char from the wood fire, and there was no comfy, crusty buffer at the edge. The pizza sauce and mozzarella were dolloped unevenly across the top –– apparently, this is a traditional Neapolitan thing. The end result was that some bites had cheese but no sauce or vice versa. The bites bereft of sauce were dry because the thin crust was almost like a flatbread. The sliced meatballs on top were deliciously, subtly spicy but couldn’t make up for the lack of consistency in the sauce and cheese.
Olivella’s cooks make the mozzarella for both the Caprese and burrata salads. The cheese in the Caprese was firm, verging on tough. The tomatoes in the classic Italian dish were fairly unremarkable, but the pesto balsamic dressing proved to be a little scoop of heaven in a ramekin. The puree of basil, oil, and pine nuts tasted absolutely wonderful with the pungent balsamic vinegar. The burrata salad included a fist-sized scoop of cheese that was mozzarella on the outside, with a soft, creamy, ricotta-like center. There was more of the delicious pesto balsamic dressing heaped in the middle of the burrata but not quite enough dressing to fully coat the arugula and grape tomato salad. For a small upcharge, you can add chicken, pancetta, prosciutto, or anchovies. The slightly oily, salty anchovies definitely perked up the greens.
The dessert menu struck a nice balance between traditional Italian sweets (tiramisu, zeppole) and interesting twists on the cuisine, including a dessert pizza and a Nutella mousse. The multi-layered tiramisu was moist with an understated coffee flavor, but the cream in the confection tasted like it had been in the refrigerator uncovered for a few days. The Nutella mousse was magical –– neither overwhelmingly chocolatey nor rife with hazelnut, the light and fluffy delight was covered with whipped cream, fresh chopped strawberries, nuts, and caramel.
The al fresco atmosphere of Olivella’s’ glorious outdoor patio almost made up for a few glitches in service. There were no condiments on the table, and the server didn’t offer olive oil, Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, or salt, although all these items were stored in a serving area in the center of the patio. A little oil for dipping might have been a nice addition to the chewy Neapolitan crust or to the Caprese, but I’ll chalk that up to the fact that the restaurant has been open only a couple of weeks and that the servers might have been a little inexperienced.
Campisi’s up the street may have a larger menu, and Cane Rosso arguably has a much better antipasti selection. But the Neapolitan clam pizza, homemade burrata, and Nutella mousse at Olivella’s can compete with anything the other two joints have to offer.
Burrata salad $15
White Neapolitan pizza w/clams $21
Nutella mousse $7[/box_info]