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OUT OF BUSINESS: Spadella: A slice of Italy in West Delray Beach

Margharita pizza (small) from Spadella.

A small, fast-casual pizzeria owned by expat Italians offers traditional Neapolitan pizzas cooked in just a minute, house-made pastas, panini and more in a former strip center Dunkin donut shop.

By ALAN J. WAX

There’s a new pizzeria in western Delray Beach. Just what we need, right?

Absolutely!

Jonas Di Lorenzo at Spadella’s 1,100-degree pizza oven

Spadella, on Jog Road just south of Atlantic Avenue, doesn’t offer New York-style pizzas, New Haven pizzas or Chicago-style pies. What it does offer are pizzas – and more – handcrafted by Italian expats the way they’re made in Naples, Italy, the birthplace of pizza.  It’s a little slice of Italy in Delray Beach that’s been open since Nov. 1.

The fast-casual Spadella, which means sautéing in Italian according to Spadella’s web site, uses ingredients – flour, mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil, basil, tomatoes, Reggiano Parmesan cheese that’s been aged 60 months – sourced from Italy. Every pizza and every dish at Spadella is prepared to order.

Maurizio Di Lorenzo preparing tagliatelle Bolognese.

Inside the small space formerly occupied by a Dunkin shop, diners can watch pizzaiolo Jonas de Lorenzo craft pies and bake them in the domed brick oven which is heated by electricity to 1,100 degrees. De Lorenzo, a native of Naples, formerly plied his craft at L’Oliva in Bangkok, Thailand.

Or you can observe co-owner and co-founder Maurizio Di Lorenzo prep fresh pasta and sauce  at a sophisticated workstation with custom-designed, high-tech equipment that includes an automated pasta cooker and stoves right behind the front counter.

Di Lorenzo, also Naples-born, brings to Spadella 30 years of restaurant experience gained in Italy, Thailand, Spain and Florida. He received certification from the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, a non-profit organization that promotes and protects the concept of Neapolitan pizza in Italy and worldwide.

Founder Di Lorenzo’s partners in Spadella, which they hope to develop as a chain, are Max Felletti, a third generation restaurateur from Comacchio, a town 110 kilometers south of Venice in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, and Parkland entrepreneur Fuad (Fred) Habona.

DiLorenzo and Felletti, who both currently live in South Florida, also are partners in a small, fast-casual seafood chain in Italy called Banchina 52.

To be sure, Spadella is not the first restaurant in Delray Beach to offer Neapolitan pizza. Others include Scuola Vecchia, which formerly operated in Downtown and has since relocated to Coral Springs, and Elisabetta’s, also in Downtown. But Spadella is the first in suburban Delray Beach, where every strip center has a pizza joint.

Outdoor dining in Spadella’s atrium.

What makes Spadella’s pizza different is that its dough is prepared following an ancient Neapolitan recipe and cooked in ovens at high temperatures for only about one minute. According to the rules of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, genuine Neapolitan pizza dough is prepared with wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water.

Neapolitan pizza is largely defined by its crust, very thin at the base with dough that puffs up around the sides and provides for a light, airy crust. Because that crust is so light (even though quite large) certain areas can char very quickly, which is why pizzaiolo di Lorenzo carefully eyes each pie that he places in the hot oven.

Spadella does not disappoint. Its pies, which come in two sizes, 10 inches or 14 inches, are available in 14 variations. They’re served on planks cut from tree trunks.

Among the most basic pizza is a Margherita ($8.99 for 10-inches, $12.99 for 14 inches) topped with a well-balanced tomato sauce; bright, white stringy fresh mozzarella, and fresh basil leaves. It’s tempting to devour an entire pie alone.

The Spadella pizza features tender eggplant bites.

Spadellerà tagliatelle Bolognese made with fresh pasta.

Pizza Spadella ($10.99 for 10 inches, $14.99 for 14 inches), also is a delight. Essentially, it’s a Margherita pie topped with bites of tender eggplant Parmigiana and extra virgin olive oil.

Spadella’s pasta, made entirely by hand, are cooked in less than four minutes using high-tech automatic cookers, and are served with homemade sauces. A dozen pasta dishes are available. At Maurizio’s suggestion, I ordered tagliatelle Bolognese ($14.99), one of the signature dishes of Bologna, the food-loving capital city of Emilia-Romagna. He delivered a plate of perfectly al dente silky egg noodles topped with a rich, meaty tomato ragù. I could have licked my plate clean.

Spadella’s Toto panini.

Panini also can be found on Spadella’s menu. Originally an Italian dish of grilled bread filled with meats and cheeses, panini have evolved to become more than just an ordinary sandwich.  At Spadella there are six variations made with fresh dough, more pita like as it’s not pressed. I tried the Toto Panini,  a folded slab of lightly charred dough stuffed with beef that’s been slow-cooked with onions and topped with emmentaler cheese, and tomatoes. Juices dripped from the incredibly moist filling as I lifted it to take a bite.  The savory filling played off the fresh tomatoes, but overall the sandwich might have benefited from being served a bit hotter.

One disappointment on an early visit was an order of chicken in lemon sauce, a few measly strips of bland chicken breast in an utterly tasteless golden sauce. It’s since been removed from the menu.

There are bottles of soft drinks, water and a limited selection of wines by the glass to wash down your combustibles.

It’s tempting to linger at Spadella with an espresso or latte and a cannola, especially in the covered outdoor alcove. But, if you’re like me, you may be too stuffed.   One can only offer an arrivederci  – until we meet again – upon leaving.  I know I’ll be back.

Spadella

15280 Jog Rd., Delray Beach, FL 33446

(561) 270-3442

spadellarestaurant.com

 

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