Tuesday, October 28, 2008
In this installment of the Chef Raekwon inspired Bronx Italian series we revisit Arthur Ave. Cattania's Pizza, the eastern most establishment on the Arthur Ave. strip might look like any pizzeria in the city, with pies behind the glass, a Coca Cola menu board and cheese posters, but look closer and you'll see something different. But wait. It's important that I tell you they are closed on Sunday. I need to remind myself of that, because I have gone to Arthur Ave. numerous times with the excitement of getting some of their mini calzones, only to have my unadulterated joy jacked and stripped naked. This shouldn't have to happen to anybody else. So, to be very clear, Catania's is closed on Sunday.
I have no clue how Catania's pizza tastes. Nor do I care. The sole purpose of walking in the door under the huge red awning is to get my hands on their mini calzones. These things are incredible. No. These things are fucking incredible. You know those moments when you fiend for a particular taste or meal. These make my list. Limited to 4 fillings- ricotta, meat, ricotta and sausage, and veal and peppers, each variety is worthy of praise. On my most recent trip I had one of each except for the plain cheese. Approximately 3 inches squared, and 1.5 to 2 inches tall, these small pouches pack some major flavor. The thin, crisp crust has a pleasant crunch, protecting the soft and delicate insides.
It's pretty difficult to differentiate each calzone so you just grab one and go in. The meat calzone turned out to be my initial draw. Basically, it is a meatball and tomato sauce blend. The tomato sauce adds a little sweetness and spice. The filling is very moist yet dense, and there is no short changing of meat. No air pockets here.
Next up was the Ricotta and Sausage. I forgot how delicious the fresh ricotta cheese is. Purchased daily from Calandra's Cheese right across the street, the rich salty creaminess would make a vegan grab an udder. Small slices of sausage are placed atop the cheese so each bite should have a little of each. Catania's uses a mellow sausage that works well with the cheese, not overpowering it. This might be my favorite.
The veal and pepper calzone is a mix of ground veal with chopped green pepper. I rarely eat veal, but having one of these makes me wonder why. Not as strong as the meat calzone, the smoothness of the veal and the sweetness of the pepper provide such great flavor that you forget you're eating a baby cow.
The idea of the mini calzone is perfect. Sometimes a large calzone is too much to eat, especially if you're on the run. With the smaller version, you can still grab enough to fill you up, but eat each one as a snack. Plus you can get a variety of different tastes. A calzone sampler if you will.
The owner said the idea came about in the 1940's when his parents ran a bakery across the street, bordering Calandra's. They made these little pockets for workers in the area with the cheese from next door. They became such a hit that when he opened the pizzeria years later he knew he had to incorporate them into the menu.
Individual calzones cost $2.25. Not cheap, but definitely worth it. $6.75 for 3 is a little more than what a regular sized calzone costs in most pizzerias throughout the 5 boroughs. The real bargain is buying a tray of 20. That runs you only $23. I'm dying for a reason to get 20 at a time. Maybe when the apartment is complete and I have a little house warming jumpoff, we get several trays. Heiny lights in the tub Dogg Pound style. Mini calzones in the oven getting it on and we ain't leaving till...
2305 Arthur Ave. at the corner of 184th St.(184th St. and Crescent Ave. meet at Arthur Ave.)
Bronx, NY 10458
Mon - Sat 6 am - 7 pm (They might close at 6:30 so call to make sure)