We were touring around the Tennessee State Capital grounds in Nashville when another couple approached us and asked if they could pat the Bear. We immediately detected a Northeast accent and found out they were from Philly. Following the usual Q&A on Sheepdogs, the woman – of Italian descent – told us they had discovered an amazing pizza joint in the city called DeSano. Having gone without decent wood-fired pizza since we left East Van, we took her advice and tracked the place down.
DeSano Pizza Bakery is a large restaurant on the outskirts of downtown Nashville. DeSano explains that it follows the strict guidelines of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), preserving the centuries old craft of making authentic Neapolitan pizza.
DeSano features three Acunto ovens, imported from Italy, which are – get this – blessed by Priests! Equally important, the ovens are tended to by Pizzaiolas (master pizza makers). All ingredients are imported from Italy and pizzas are flashed cooked (90 seconds) in the wood-fired ovens.
This all sounded pretty good. And when we were parking, a young woman approached and said she loved the RV. Then she met the Bear, who bounded out, and she was really enthralled. This woman, who was a DeSano employee, asked what we liked, then recommended the ‘Margherita’ (San Marzano tomato sauce, basil, garlic, scamorza, mozzarella di bufala, pecorino romano) for Mama Bear and the ‘San Gennaro’ (San Marzano tomato sauce, sausage, peppadews, garlic, caramelized onions, scamorza, mozzarella di bufala, pecorino romano) for Papa Bear.
We sat outside at the picnic tables, our mouths watering. The pizzas arrived in 10 minutes and they were, perhaps, the best Neapolitan pizza we’ve ever had (sorry Lombardo’s and Via Tevere Pizzeria back home…). Mama Bear loved her simple Margherita and Papa Bear absolutely swooned over the delicate mixture of sweetness from the caramelized onions, spice from the sausage, and unique flavor of the peppadews.
Okay, we had no idea what a peppadew was so we looked it up – Peppadew is the ‘trademarked brand name of sweet piquante peppers grown in the Limpopo province of South Africa.’ Apparently, these cherry tomato-size, maraschino-red lovelies are typically hulled, seeded and pickled in brine. Who knew? Anyway, the peppadews were definitely a key ingredient in the San Gennaro and were out-of-this-world delicious (it’s hard to type this without drooling…)
And most importantly, the thin inner crust maintained rigidity and the ample toppings didn’t fall into the box when you removed a slice (a major peeve of ours).
So for all you pizza connoisseurs out there, thinking ‘Oh great, I never get to Nashville’ you can find two other DeSano restaurants in Charleston, SC and Los Angeles, CA. Take it from us, it’s worth a flight to sample one of these blessed pies.
[Editor’s note: savvy readers will have realized that most of our travel and culinary decisions are predicated on conversations with locals and other travellers who want to meet the Bear. So if you want to find out where all the good spots are, get a Sheepdog…]