Fri, Nov 27, 2009 - Page 14 News List

RESTAURANTS : Fifteen Pizzeria Napoletana (15那不勒斯披薩屋)

By David Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER


Opened in October, Fifteen Pizzeria Napoletana is off to a good start. Its gallery-like but casual interior was probably the attraction for the three or four families with kids dining there on a recent visit.

The pizzas are very good and well worth the prices, which range between NT$260 and NT$460. Although cracker-thin crusted Roman pizzas are now an established trend in Taipei, Fifteen has gone in a different direction with its Napoli-style pies, which are cooked faster and at a higher temperature. The dough is thin towards the middle but has a puffier crust, and its consistency is springier and only slightly chewy.

There are nearly a dozen varieties. The wait staff will recommend the Fiorentina, topped with spinach, bacon, cottage cheese, Grana Padano and an organic egg cracked over the top. For something slightly less rich, the pizza with dry-cured Parma ham strikes a pleasing harmony with the saltiness of the meat, the bitterness of the fresh arugula and the sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and cheeses. I found little to complain about my order — it arrived piping hot and charred to perfection at the bottom. Both pizzas are NT$360.

Grana Padano, which is similar to Parmesan cheese, is a standard topping on many of the selections including the vongole (NT$400), which has clams, garlic, parsley and mozzarella. The cavolfiore (NT$420) is topped with cauliflower, “Italian bacon,” smoked mozzarella and extra virgin olive oil.

Skip the cheese altogether with the marinara (NT$260), which has tomato sauce, oregano, garlic and olive oil. And what would a pizzeria be without the margherita (NT$300)? Fifteen does a commendable job on its, although it would be better with fresh basil. A buffalo mozzarella version will soon be available.

Fifteen Pizzeria Napoletana (15那不勒斯披薩屋)

Address: 1F, 4-1, Ln 118, Heping E Rd Sec 2, Taipei City (台北市和平東路二段118巷4-1號1樓)

Telephone: (02) 2377-1142 Hours: 11:30am to 10:30pm Average Meal: NT$300 to NT$500, plus 10 percent service charge Details: Credit cards not accepted

All pizzas listed on the menu are 10 inches, but 8-inch pies are available for NT$60 less. The prices also drop for take-out: subtract NT$50 for the 10-inchers and NT$110 for the 8-inchers.

The menu is simple and well laid out, but save yourself a letdown and don’t look at the enticing antipasti page. Owner Nick Chen (陳祈帆) decided to nix the items just before opening, but he does offer salads and soups, which change regularly. On my visit, they were serving a cauliflower soup with Parma ham (NT$120), which was a nice and hearty complement to the pizza on a chilly autumn day.

Fifteen will inevitably draw comparisons to another restaurant that serves Napoli-style pizza, Primo Trattoria on Zhongxiao East Road. Those watching their wallets will appreciate Fifteen’s slightly lower prices and food that is equally as good. The atmosphere also feels less uptight, perhaps given its locale in a neighborhood full of restaurants catering to National Taiwan University students.

The decor is contemporary rustic, with faux brick walls painted in white. The restaurant sits on a corner and the wall-sized windows offer views of the adjacent park. The main seating area is a spacious bar that surrounds the pizza oven in the center of the room and accommodates around 15 people, who sit on leather-upholstered bar stools from where the cooks can be watched as they work.

Fifteen offers German brews on tap, including Bitburger Premium Pils (NT$220), Kostritzer Schwarzbier (NT$220) and Licher Weizen (NT$240). Several other Bitburger bottled beers are available starting from NT$150.

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