Among the scores of new restaurant openings in Worcester over the past year, there’s one that really stands out. Dacosta’s Pizza is one of those rare events when a family opens its doors and welcomes the public to its passion. Not a passion for making a quick fortune. Nor to become the hottest venue in town.
Dacosta’s mission appears a bit more humble: making the tastiest, most authentic Neapolitan pizzas possible.
This is an aspiration that anyone who’s made the pilgrimage to Napoli should find bold and exciting. Because just one slice of a margarita pizza at just about any pizzeria on any side street in Naples is sufficient to change forever the way one enjoys flavors and textures, craft and tradition … perhaps life itself. Yeah, I guess it’s pretty exciting.
Dacosta’s has proven its commitment to all that with the investment in an authentic Stefano Ferrara pizza oven. It looks like a kiln and burns just about as hot; the owner went to Italy to learn how to make pizza using Neapolitan methods. The first weeks of operation were unadvertised and informal; anyone fortunate enough to stop by at that time was likely to have a family member to probe with nearly unlimited questions. I took full advantage.
The results? Let’s put it this way: Every time I go to Dacosta’s, I share a margarita pizza. Unfailingly, I walk out wishing I’d had the entire pie to myself. The tomato topping is crushed and bright- flavored, and the mozzarella is creamy. Initially, we had to recommend more fresh basil leaves.
But that’s just the supporting cast. The real event is the crusty base. That ripping-hot oven bakes these pies top and bottom so fast they come out with just the right charry points of burnt-in richness, chewy texture and nutty flavor. At Dacosta’s, it’s all about ingredients – the restaurant is even decorated with #10 cans of tomatoes and sacks of flour.
At last week’s trip to Dacosta’s, my neighbors shared and Uncle Tony’s Roni’s pizza. It featured crushed tomatoes, fresh scamorza cheese, pepperoni slices and was spiced with oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Always fussy about the quality and greasiness of pepperoni on her pizza, one neighbor claimed this is some of the best.
One of these days, I’ll explore the menu a bit further and order the Go Fig Yourself, a pizza that features gorgonzola, prosciutto, homemade fig jam, fried rosemary and hot honey drizzle. Or maybe we should share one for dessert.
There’s more than pizza at Dacosta’s. We’ve also tried the sandwiches: Eggplant and Meatball, to name a couple. They’re huge and come served with hand-cut french fries so tasty that everyone at the table will want some. Appetizers we’ve sampled include Arancini Rice Balls. If we’ve found a weak point, it would be the Fried Calamari; it was drier and tougher than I prefer.
In contrast, the Wood-Fired Brussels Sprouts + Bacon appetizer was an instant hit at the table. They were sweet and firm with just a faint memory of tasty bitterness and tossed with chewy bacon chunks in a red wine reduction that tasted very much like a balsamic reduction. Ask for bread; you’ll want to dab up every last bit of this dish.
Prices are so reasonable at Dacosta’s, you might want to splurge with the Zeppole dessert. These are freshly-fried Italian donut balls dusted with powdered sugar. They come with little tins of Nutella spread and creamy mascarpone cheese for dipping. Getting those last bits of sticky toppings is a schmear-fest of sticky fingers. For another flavor dimension, you might try to coax your waiter into bringing some of Mike’s Hot Honey to drizzle over these piping hot confections.
Dacosta’s Pizza Bakery is located in converted warehouse space on Millbrook Street. If you want beer or wine with your meal, you are welcome to bring your own. For those not familiar with the area, it’s easy to drive right past, so watch for the yellow awnings and the Boost Fitness sign at the corner of the parking lot. Be assured, though, one pizza, and you’ll be back for more.
Dacosta’s Pizza Bakery 40 Millbrook St., Worcester
By Bernie Whitmore