Monday, February 21, 2011

Monza, Charleston, SC

Mangiare felice ~ Happy Eating.

After tackling the entire Ravenel Bridge by foot earlier in the day I wanted a big lunch.  We chose Monza Pizza on upper King Street. 

I have to say that we’ve eaten there before.  It was a non-blog day and the lunch was terrific.  We learned that a pizza and a salad are large enough to split.  After our last outing there, lunch was also dinner…

Monza has a race car theme.  Pictures of older drivers dot the walls and some of the menu items are named for famous drivers. 

Counter Overlooking Oven
We sat at the counter overlooking the open cooking area. There is a very large prep area that’s somewhat hidden, but the majority of the items are made right in front of you. 

We started with Monza’s Chopped Salad.  In it was escarole, potatoes, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers, ricotta salata, onions and pepperoncini. This has to be about the freshest, crispest and flavorful salad that I’ve had in a very long time.  It was odd that the chef tossed everything by hand – no glove use here, but it was still awesome. The chef asked how the salad was and seemed genuine in trying to discern if we liked the salad, which we did.

Monza Chopped Salad
The pizza there is flat out terrific.  But first a little bit about their pizza process. The dough is made from imported San Felice wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast, filtered and pH balanced water it is then kneaded in a mixer imported from Naples.  Toss that into a 1000 degree wood fired oven and magic is made.

I don’t think they get enough credit for all of this.  It was only when I went to their website after lunch that I found this out. At sixteen my first job was at a pizzeria that also imported all its products from Italy.  There really is something to be said for doing things well, and Monza does just that. Now on to my lunch…

Fangio Pizza
We ordered the Fangio pizza.  This particular pizza, like others featured is named for Juan Miguel Fangio.  He was a race car driver that dominated the first decade of Formula One Racing.  Many consider him to be the greatest driver of all time – again, something that we knew nothing about when ordering the pizza.  We just thought the pizza’s had odd names.

The Fangio has fresh tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, house made sausage, jalapenos and onions. It was hot, crisp, light, and tasty.  I was full after one slice but pushed on to have another.  Wow!  That’s all I can say is wow!

Outdoor Patio
The group that owns Monza also owns Taco Boy, Closed for Business, and Poe’s.  All of which I’ve written about.  Although Taco Boy and Poe’s are consistently terrific, Monza may have surpassed them all.

The menu thanks Countess Logan Bentley Lessona.  I don’t know why she’s being thanked but she has been featured as a writer in Food and Wine Magazine and is the editor of “Made in Italy on Line”.  Whoever helped to bring this restaurant to life should be thanked; it’s by far the best pizza we’ve had in Charleston to date.  Mangiare felice ~ Happy Eating.

We gave Monza 5 out of a possible 5 plates!

Monza Pizza on Urbanspoon


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