Feel the Heat

Due Forni turns up the temperature on Summerlin’s pizza scene

What happens to a neighborhood restaurant venture when an experienced food and beverage director like Alex Taylor, formerly of Wynn-Encore, teams up with a seasoned chef like Carlos Buscaglia of MGM Grand’s Fiamma? Good things, it seems.

“Like most American kids, I grew up on pizza,” says Taylor, who hails from California and was weaned on Round Table. “My passion for pizza started in Washington, D.C., and then I moved to Phoenix, where I discovered Pizzeria Bianco and was totally blown away. That’s when I fell in love with real Neapolitan pizza.”

Taylor worked with Buscaglia at Fiamma, where the two once longed to open a pizza place. “We love Vintner Grill,” he says, referring to one of Summerlin’s most popular hot spots for fine dining, “but sometimes, I don’t want a white-tablecloth dinner.”

So now he has opened Due Forni, (literally “two ovens”), a new pizzeria dominated by a pair of huge terracotta-colored stone ovens that take up most of the space in an otherwise tiny kitchen. The ovens are from a company called Cirigliano from Naples, Italy, and the pizzas rotate in them while cooking, distributing heat evenly.

These are not wood-fired ovens, so crusts don’t blacken as they do at Settebello Pizzeria Napoletana or Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. Buscaglia’s parents are from Italy, and although he grew up in Argentina, he learned pizza-making Naples-style.

Due Forni serves pizza two ways: a yeasty, medium-thick, authentic Neapolitan style, and what the menu calls Roman—cracker thin and ultra-crisp. Either way, the Neapolitan pizzas cook 90 seconds at 900 degrees, the Roman three minutes at 500. These are super-hot ovens, rather like a tandoor, used in Indian cooking.

Due Forni is a simply designed restaurant, the main feature being rows of Edison bulbs, glowing faint amber, suspended over all the tables and the bar. One impressive extra is the use of elegant French Bernardaud crockery serving dishes in a pizzeria. Another is the wine list. Taylor has complied 20 wines by the glass for under $15 as well as a Reserve Wine List featuring wines rarely ever offered by the glass (see The Grape Nut, below). Two bargains are Nero d’Avola from Feudo Arancio ($8) and Luigi Righetti Valpolicella ($13).

Seating is in a narrow bar area, or in the only slightly larger main dining room, where you can watch the pizzaiolos work. Given the size of the kitchen, it’s amazing Buscaglia does cooked dishes such as polpette, Italian meatballs, or semolina gnocchi with Nueske’s bacon, peas and a black truffle crema.

I liked the meatballs, served in a white porcelain dish with a rich, tomato-ey marinara. But I would have liked them more had they been made with veal. These are based on turkey, and are a little dry. Salads are also a strong suit. On a first visit, one of my tablemates groused a bit because the tomatoes in a Tuscan panzanella—bread salad—were mealy. But when I returned I ate a terrific Caesar with punchy dressing and house-made croutons.

Pizzas have gotten more delicious, too, and according to Buscaglia, it is because the starter for the yeast has matured since opening. I’d say he’s right. I liked my pizzas on that first visit. I love them now.

I prefer the Roman crust, but that is a matter of preference, because I like crispy dough. My favorite menu pizza is the eponymous Due Forni, topped with San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, the chef’s own sausage, Nueske’s bacon and piquillo peppers. Did you get all that?

A classic prosciutto e rucola, with the Italian ham and arugula added after cooking, tasted just like many I’ve eaten in Italy. Piccante (Italian for spicy) employs tomatoes, cheese, soppresata and Fresno peppers.

For dessert, don’t miss the chocolate pizza—no kidding—or the buffalo milk ricotta cheese laced with honey and crushed nuts. Things are all good on the Summerlin front, thanks to this latest locals hot spot.

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