After our liquid lunch on the waterfront, myself, the gals, and Matt headed out to a relatively newer pizza restaurant in the North End that has been on my "list" since it opened. Ducali Pizzeria & Bar is located on the outskirts of the North End at 289 Causeway Street.
We played the night by ear, meaning no reservations were made prior. I had a feeling the more relaxed bar atmosphere would best cater to us, but you never know what kind of a wait you might be in for on a Friday night. I live in one of the most crowded neighborhoods of the city calling to a variety of locals and tourists on a regular basis, especially so on a Friday night in the summertime. Dinner reservations are essential.
Our leisurely walk to the opposite side of the North End would prove rewarding to start. We were seated right away at a high table for six. I immediately went to relieve my bladder and was greeted by a bright colorful spray painted wall on the way to the bathroom.
It looks like a bunch of names and random symbols. But I like it. After my basement photo shoot I was ready for a beer. Ducali has 10 draught beers as well as an ample wine list and a fun cocktail menu. The waitress recommended Brooklyn Summer. I think she read my mind. I was excited that they served this crisp golden summer brew on-tap.
Everyone else seemed to enjoy the beer selections and those along with large glasses of ice water for all were delivered promptly.
Menus with an Italian flare are collaged on one wall and a simple red Italian Coke sign hangs on the other.
I'm pretty sure she enjoyed the decor just as much as I did.
It is safe to say I'm infatuated with the atmosphere of Ducali. It plays a huge part in my dining experience, if you hadn't picked up on that yet. We started with the Calamari Arabiata ($8.5) Fried calamari with hot pepper. Served with a spicy dipping sauce. The calamari itself was tender, fresh and extra crispy and the hot peppers and the spicy dipping sauce certainly packed a punch. The group ordered two large pizzas and one small. The Bistecca e Gorgonzola ($21) Grilled steak, arugula and gorgonzola was a unanimous favorite.
The strips of steak were flavorful and cooked well. The bed of arugula over which they sat were bright green and unmistakably fresh. The gorgonzola appears haphazardly sprinkled on but I am pretty sure there is more hiding under the greens.
An excellent pizza overall, one that I would definitely recommend. Next up, The Melanzane e Zucchini ($16) Grilled eggplant, mushroom, zucchini and mozzarella. The gooey hot mozzarella overpowered the grilled veggies at times, which should have been the star of the plate. A lot of slices, as evidenced below, were lacking in veggies all together. Still great pizza, the flavors were there and honestly, when is more cheese ever a bad thing?
I think a big issue was we ordered a lot of white cheesy pizzas to eat all at once. Where is the tomato sauce?! Oh yea, it's on the pizzas that we didn't order! I'm missing a picture but the third pizza ordered was a small Rugola ($9) Arugula and mozzarella, drizzled with truffle oil and topped with shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano. All the ingredients sound incredible but oddly enough all I tasted were the sharp thick slabs of Parmiggiano Reggiano. I absolutely love white pizzas, however I think we would have been better off ordering something with tomato sauce like the Margherita ($8/$15) or the - wow a lot of pizzas on the menu are lacking tomato sauce. Interesting.
Overall, a hearty pizza crust with just the right balance of soft and doughy to golden and crispy was achieved. However, some of the pizzas seemed to be lacking in finesse and execution. But pizza is pizza and bottom line, it still tasted good. I loved every last bite of the cold leftovers, too. I would definitely return to Ducali to sample more of their menu and to have some drinks at the bar. And I'm definitely keeping them in mind for takeout, too!