Photos by Tom McGovern, Courtesy of Amore Cucina
Bruno DiFabio’s love of pizza came full circle when he opened Amore Cucina & Bar. It’s where he made his first pizza when he was ten. Today, the six-time World Pizza Champion and restaurateur owns the 40-year-old joint in Springdale, Stamford, where he updates Italian-American classics, and continues his exploration into the artisan pizza he started at RéNapoli (King of Naples) in Old Greenwich.
The original 1975 red neon sign is retro hip. Inside, exposed brick and worn wood, a long bar that seats 30. There’s a dining room too. But if you’re a pizza geek, you’ll want to sit at the end of the bar and watch the pizza guy.
After making New York-style pizza professionally for 20 years, DiFabio went to Italy to study under a grand master pizzaiolo. He studied the science of pizza making, traveled the world to see where the ingredients are grown and processed. He collected dew in the Dolomite Mountains to get yeast for a starter dough he’s kept going for years. He filmed a pilot. He judged pizza on the Food Network show “Chopped.”
At Amore Cucina & Bar, there are two kinds of pies, the round Neapolitan and square Roman, each made with a different type of dough. The Neapolitan uses the traditional 8-hour process, and bakes in a wood-fired oven, creating a thin, charred, chewy, well-flavored crust. The Roman pizza dough ferments for 72 hours, creating an airy, bubble-filled crust with a crisp, brown exterior.
The Neapolitan Margherita was glorious, baked quickly in a 900-degree wood-fired oven, to get the distinctive char known as “leoparding,” and topped with a bright, garlic-infused San Marzano tomato puree, pools of creamy fresh mozzarella and torn basil leaves.
The Roman Juliet is sweet with gorgonzola dolce, fig jam, balanced with ham glazed with balsamic. DiFabio’s award-winning pizzas are on the menu, the Roman-style Ferentini, topped with spicy salami, green olives, San Marzano puree and mozzarella.
Shaved fennel salad with avocado, dressed in lemon, olive oil and sea salt, is a refreshing complement. Pork belly and polenta is an irresistible cicchetti or snack.
And praise be for short ribs cooked on the bone as they should be (where and why did a trend for boneless short ribs, if that’s even what they are, sweep the restaurant scene?) Same with the Italian-American classic chicken scarpariello, served on the bone, surrounded by a deeply flavored, spicy wine sauce seasoned with sausage and pickled hot red peppers. Fingerling potatoes cooked in duck fat add a note of luxury.
Duck fat fried potatoes are on the brunch menu, and while I haven’t had a chance to get there, the savory waffle, with sausage, black pepper gravy and maple syrup, sounds tempting.
But no matter how I’m temped, I can’t help it, I always have Amore’s pizza Margherita
Amore Cucina & Bar is at 921 Hope St., Stamford, CT. Hours are Monday through Thursday, 11:30 to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. For more information (203) 357-1066 or http://amorecucinastamford.com
A version of this article originally appeared in the Hartford Courant.