5 (Sun) June 2011
at Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo
-Sinsa, Gangnam, Seoul, Republic of Korea-
with W and DJ, Mom and Dad
The “D.O.C.” stands for “denominazione di origine controllata,” a snooty reference to the kinda cool fact that the pizza comes from the only restaurant in Korea to have earned the official seal of approval from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (see organization’s website), a quasi-governmental body in Napoli, which some consider to be the birthplace of modern-day pizza, that sets the standards for “authentic” Neapolitan-style pizza and recognizes establishments that adhere thereto.
Generally, the standards require: the ingredients (e.g., flour, cheese, tomatoes, basil) are all-natural and non-processed; the dough has been hand-kneaded to a thickness less than 2 cm on the outer perimeter and less than 0.3 cm in the center; and the pizza is cooked for not longer than 90 seconds in an oven that fires wood only and reaches an internal temperature of 485 degrees.
When The Kitchen Salvatore Cuomo (see restaurant’s website) opened its Seoul branch last year, it made front-page news in the local media, the headlines reading as if in affirmation of the country’s state of affluence and modernity. As far as I can tell, chef and owner Salvatore Cuomo isn’t particularly famous for anything other than his efforts to get this AVPN designation for his restaurants across Asia, first Tokyo then Shanghai and now Seoul. Very little is said, either way, about the food itself. Nevertheless, when I had called for a reservation sometime just after the opening, I was told that the first available opening would be in two months. Congratulations to Chef Cuomo for choosing as his 3rd location a city that thrives on both exclusivity and recognition, particularly recognition of exclusivity.
Anyway, the food was okay. The best thing about the Pizza D.O.C. was its crust, among the best that I’ve ever had – better indeed that most breads here in the city – perfectly textured to be dry yet chewy, seasoned just right, and ever-so-slightly burnt in the wood-fired oven. The toppings, consisting of just buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and basil, were fresh and tasty individually. It’s a prime example of the old-school pizza trend in Korea these days. However, I found the pizza in its totality to be less than spectacular, like all the other dishes that we ordered tonight: well-constructed with impeccable ingredients, yet somehow falling short of greatness.
(See also FOODS.)
(See also PLACES.)