Vol 7 No. 6 - November 1, 2006

Pizza, oh pizza, tonight

Leah Suzor shows one of the restaurant’s creations.
SUN PHOTO/LIZA MORROW

By Liza Morrow
sun staff writer

It’s getting chilly out. Makes me want to eat something uncomplicated, but with just enough interesting choices involved to be distracting. Pizza. That’s what I want for dinner. There is warm comfort in the stringy cheese and crisp, yet floppy pizza crust. Off to A Moveable Feast where garlic’s reassuring scent wafts past me even as I park in the Whitney Plaza lot.

A Moveable Feast, with its modest low-ceilinged dining room and Longboat Key location, has built a following by sticking to some very simple premises. Keep the food uncomplicated, rustic and Italian. Serve plentiful portions. Be really nice. The formula works. The owners, Leah and Jason Suzor, who also own The Waterfront, a Gulf-side American cafe on Anna Maria, always manage to come up with fine ingredients, and the toppings for their pizzas are no exception. I am partial to the Rancher’s Pie. Love at first bite with two of my favorite ingredients — pizza and barbequed chicken laden with caramelized onions. Perhaps the seafood pizza with sweet shrimp and scallops on an Alfredo sauce base or the robust pizza bianco? Bianco means white which means without sauce. It is a 14 or 18 inch beauty spread with a mixture of mozzarella, feta, ricotta and topped with garlic and a scattering of fresh basil. Burning wood adds a sublime crunch and smokiness to the excellent crust.

Pizza started out as a snack for Italian women waiting for their bread to bake in the communal ovens in each town. A signora would pull off a bit of dough, flatten it out and top it with whatever seasonings were available. A simple way to satisfy hunger pangs! Tonight I devour the Pizza Margherita, showered with basil, shredded and fresh mozzarella, fresh plum tomatoes, Parmigiano and extra virgin olive oil. Created in honor of Italy’s 19th Century Queen Margherita, who adored the peasant pizza, this combination has become one of the world’s most popular presentations. Made with vine ripened tomatoes, very fresh cheese and the finest olive oil, it has no rivals.

Salads are also a strong suit ,and each one can be a meal by itself with the addition of chicken, shrimp, scallops, tuna or grouper for a few dollars more. Tropicale Salad, a mountainous serving of baby arugula, sliced avocado, heart of palm and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is accented with balsamic vinaigrette. Greek salad is a plateful of mixed organic baby greens, green and black calamata olives, cucumber, tomato, fresh feta cheese and homemade creamy dressing. The Caesar salad is another huge plate of crispy romaine lettuce with the classic garlicky vinaigrette.

Pizza has become more American than mom’s apple pie. Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day or about 350 slices per second. Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year and 93 percent of Americans eat at least one pizza per month. Each man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices, or 23 pounds, of pizza per year. According to a recent Gallop Poll, children between the ages of 3 and 11 prefer pizza over all other food groups for lunch and dinner.

Contrary to the popular belief that it is fattening, pizza, minus sausage and other high calorie toppings, has a nutrition profile that shows it can be a near perfect food. In fact, it supplies basic nutrients in almost the exact amounts recommended in the Dietary Goals for the United States outlined by the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs: 15 percent protein, 27 percent fat and 58 percent carbohydrate. With this good news in mind, coupled with the accompanying recipes for pizza, enjoy this American favorite frequently.

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