Editor’s note: In this series, Baltimore Guide reporter Danielle Sweeney reviews local restaurants.
We’ve got sausage, pirogues and crabs, and now Baltimore is becoming a city with a viable pizza scene.
Sure, we’ve always had the classics, like Matthew’s deep dish, and in the last few years pizza pioneers such as Joe Squared, Iggies, Johnny Rad’s in Canton, and most recently Hersh’s in South Baltimore, have slowly morphed Baltimore into a first-class pizza town.
But with Verde Pizza Napoletana opening in Canton at 641 S. Montford Ave., the standards are raised even higher. A good thing for Baltimore.
Verde specializes in Neapolitan pizza. What is Neapolitan? As the co-owner Ed Bosco describes it, Neapolitan is the pizza of Naples.
You can find blogs devoted to the finer points of what makes a Neapolitan—the oven, temperature, fuel, ingredients—but in layman’s terms, a Neapolitan is a thin-crust (made with flour, water, yeast, sea salt) pizza, where the dough, sauce, and toppings are of equal importance, culinarily speaking.
The Bosco family, who are Italians and now Marylanders by way of Chicago, have infused Verde with a charming mid-century cooler, and rustic family heirlooms such as a box cheese grater mounted on the wall.
Bosco, who co-owns Verde with his wife Marianne Kresevich, spent years looking for the right location in Baltimore, a city he loves to call his “Goldilocks city.”
“Not too big, not too small, just right,” Bosco says.
“My dad fell in love with this place when he saw it,” says Evan Bosco, Ed’s son, a pizzaiolo, or pizza maker, who co-manages the store with his dad.
Verde shows the effort the Boscos have put into rehabbing a great space with reclaimed wood and an antique bar with a trough.
Verde’s main draw, however, is its food. The pizzas, the focal point of the menu, are listed under two categories—rosso, with tomato sauce, and bianche, without.
I tried one from each category. First up, was the margherita ($8), a subtle pizza that lets the flavors—high-quality tomato sauce, fior di latte (made from cow’s milk) mozzarella, pecorino romano, basil, and olive oil—shine through. If you have leftover cornice (the pizza’s crusty rim), you should dip it in the chili-infused olive oil that is offered with every pizza.
In the bianche category, I ordered the pistacchio e salsiccia ($16), with fior di latte, fresh pistachio pesto, sausage—made in-house from ground pork, red wine, and salt—pecorino romano, basil, and olive oil. If you’ve never had a nut pesto, or a nut pesto on a pizza, now is the time to try it.
The pistachio and pork complement each other perfectly, making for a savory, unctuous, but somehow light pie.
Regrettably, I didn’t have time to try the sorrentina ($12) —with imported smoked buffalo mozzarella, sliced lemons, and basil—but it’s on my long list of must-trys for next time, as are Verde’s salads, and the burrata (fresh cheese made with mozzarella and cream) and mozzarella they will soon be making in-house. And there are the desserts.
Yes, the pizzas are light enough that you might consider ordering dessert, such as the fresh ricotta, almond and honey dessert pizza ($10).
If you visit Verde, count on ordering one pizza per adult, more or less. Those who want to watch the pizzaiolo retrieve the bubbling, blistering pies with the pizza paddle should ask for a table in the back.
Verde offers wines by the bottle and by the glass, as well as a selection of craft beers, many from Italy.
There is currently no happy hour, but drafts run between $4 and $7 a pint. Peroni and The Raven are two-for-one during Ravens games with the purchase of a pizza.
Verde is open Tuesday through Sunday for dinner and also serves lunch on the weekends. Bosco says he hopes to open for lunch a few more days during the week and eventually offer brunch.
by Danielle Sweeney