Nicki beat me to the punch writing her first impressions of Porta Via, but that did demonstrate a new phenomenon in the restaurant world. When word gets out that a new joint is opening, food bloggers are often some of the first excited, highly motivated customers. That's not meant to be a threat, by the way.
Case in point on a recent Friday night when I dropped in to check the place out. My girlfriend and I were enjoying a nice glass of $4 Prosecco while we sorted through the menu options. As an aside, if more meals began with a cheap Prosecco, the world would be a much happier place. We were keeping a pretty low profile since we weren't really there to write about Porta Via; we just love Neapolitan pizza.
I noticed a familiar redheaded man walking in the door, and sure enough it was the husband of the author of the "Lesley Eats" food blog. Having eaten at Woodlands with them both earlier that same week, we knew that Lesley had something more in the oven than just biscuits, and that she was due very soon. So we didn't detain her husband for more than a minute since nobody wants to keep an expectant mom waiting. We did chide him for not getting her some gelato, though.
We enjoyed our two pies and were getting ready to leave when we saw someone else familiar in the back of the line eyeing our soon-to-be-vacant table. Yup, it was the lovely Beth from the "Beth Eats" blog. (Are you starting to notice a pattern in these blog titles?) She and her husband were excited to try out a new place and immediately questioned us about our recommendations.
As far as the pizza went, when you combine a 900-plus degree wood oven with a cracker-thin crust, it's a very fine line between soggy, crispy and burnt. The pie is literally in the oven less than two minutes, so 30 seconds here or there can make a big difference. Unfortunately, mine came out a little prematurely. (Don't mean to scare you there, Lesley.)
The center of the crust was still pretty doughy, and the toppings that were supposed to be roasted were still fairly raw. No worries, I just ate half my girlfriend's pizza and took mine home to be reheated in a skillet the next day -- it was delicious.
If you are as interested in the Neapolitan process as we were, make a beeline to the small counter with three stools near the back of the restaurant. From that vantage point you can watch every pie being made and experience the blast of heat from the wood oven as each pizza makes its quick fiery trip in and out.
It's a great show!