What: The capricciosa pizza
Where: Piero’s PizzaVino, 73722 El Paseo No. 1, Palm Desert
How much: $15.90 lunch; $18.50 dinner; $8.90 happy hour
Contact: 760-568-2525; www.ppizzavino.com
Why: Amazing quality and a low price.
It’s often said that pizza is like sex: Even when it’s bad, it’s good.
Well, I strongly disagree. I’ve had some baaaad pizza before that was in no way good. (As for bad sex … well, that’s a discussion for a different column.) After enjoying the capricciosa pizza at Piero’s PizzaVino, I disagree even more: This pizza is so excellent that it makes almost all other pizza worse by comparison.
The folks at Piero’s PizzaVino take their pizza seriously: The menu and placemats emphasize that all the pizzas here are baked at 800-900 degrees for 60-90 seconds or so in the imported “Marra” Neapolitan wood-burning oven. Furthermore, the pizza-makers use only San Marzano tomatoes grown near Naples, Italy; they use only Doppio Zero flour, which has a higher protein content than most flours; and they use only house-made Fior di Latte mozzarella cheese.
Combine all of this with excellent toppings on the capricciosa pizza—ham, mushrooms, artichokes and kalamata olives (the menu incorrectly says black olives), in addition to tomato sauce and mozzarella—and … wow. I would have stood and applauded the pizza right there in Piero’s bar area if that would not have caused a scene.
Why was I dining in the bar area, you ask? Well, Piero’s offers “happy hour” there all day, every day—from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.—and the deals are pretty amazing: The pizza pictured here cost just $8.90. Yeah, it’s a little smaller than the regular-menu pizzas, but it’s certainly large enough to satisfy any hungry diner. Add a glass of nice house wine ($5) to that pizza, and you really have something: one of the best meals per dollar you’ll find anywhere in the valley—on ritzy El Paso, no less. Who’da thunk it?