We joined two friends at Ristorante Pulcinella in Morelia Centro. It’s in a wonderfully restored space, in a Spanish Colonial building, with a large, central sala flanked to one side by several smaller, more intimate dining rooms.
Upon entering the main room, one’s attention focuses on the wood burning pizza oven, built by Chef-owner Massimo Gigli, originally of Napoli and more recently of the late Ristorante La Dolce Vita in Pátzcuaro. He and his wife, Shadia, a lovely Mexicana originally of Pátzcuaro, have worked hard to create a beautiful dining space in a Spanish Colonial building.
|Massimo and Shadia|
|Focus on pizza and the kitchen|
Although the extensive and attractive menus covers the gamut from salads to appetizers, pastas, fish and meats, we were most interested in pizza. Doña Cuevas and I had enjoyed a sublime pizza the week before of fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella, prosciutto, and finished with rucola (arugula) when it emerged from the oven. We owe a thank you to David Haun suggesting this combination.
|Prosciutto, rucola and mozzarella pizza|
We ordered an Insalata César with Scampi Aglio alla Griglia, $130 pesos and an Insalata Italiana, $85. The scampi were very good, and the romaine lettuce was fresh and generous, but my Caesar Salad was drowned in dressing, albeit a good, made in house one. On the plus side, the Parmesan was shredded, not granulated, but because of the excess of dressing, I couldn’t finish the salad.
The Insalata Italiana was more sparingly dressed with a balsamic vinegar dressing.
Doña Cuevas says that the separate pizza menu has a list of smaller, less expensive salads. Shadia asked if Doña C. wanted a smaller or larger one, but for some reason, I was unaware of this option.
We requested a medium sized Pizza Margherita, $150 pesos, with an extra crusty bottom, and our friends ordered a large pizza of mild Italian sausage and pepperoni sausage. I don’t know the price. Our waitress, Shadia, was careful to explain that “peperoni” in Italy was sweet ripe peppers, or “Pimientos morrones” in Spanish, and that what our friends wanted was the spicy sausage that goes by the name “pepperoni” in the U.S.
I had the good fortune of observing and video recording Massimo hand fashioning our pizzas. He had explained to me that he gives the pizza dough two rises; the first of two hours and the second of four hours, without refrigerating it. That extended fermentation explains why the finished pizza crust is so flavorful. I made a fine distinction that the crust of the pizza we’d had Thursday night the week before was even more delicious that the one we’d had Saturday. I attribute that to the even longer slow fermentation time.
There’s one aspect of the pizzas we’ve eaten there that in my opinion bears improvement. The bottom crust is too soft and supple to my taste. I prefer a crisper bottom and its lack at Ristorante Pulcinella is because the oven is fired to only approximately 475º F. The pizza rims or edges attain great character with a nice, lightly charred effect. If only that could extended to the bottom crust. Despite these quibbles, it’s very good pizza.
In our past experiences with the food at Pulcinella’s predecessor, La Dolce Vita, we found that a lavish hand is used with olive oil. The same goes for the mozzarella cheese on our pizzas. For us, it’s just a little too much of a good thing.
Of course, you can also get pizza to go. Here's a beautiful eggplant and prosciutto pizza, just out of the oven, packed to go. But I strongly advise you to eat your pizza there, as soon as possible to when it emerges from the wood burning oven.
A real credit to Pulcinella are the reasonable prices for wine by the glass. Our Cabernet Sauvignon was only $40 pesos the glass. There was also a Tempranillo available.
Our lunch, including a pitcher of excellent Agua Fresca de Sandia and 3 glasses of Cab Sauv, was $555 pesos, plus propina.
So, my conclusion is that Ristorante Pulcinella is a very nice addition to the better dining options in Morelia. Some further refinements could be done. I expect it to get even better over time. I’m looking forward to dining there again and trying something more ambitious than pizza.
Service: **** (Service is relaxed and somewhat leisurely, but attentive without being obsequious. Don’t be in a hurry, just enjoy the experience.)
Price: $$-$$$ in which $ represents $100 pesos per person.
Ambience: Palazzo Italiano comes to Morelia.
Hygiene and restrooms: Clean
Hours: Wednesday to Thursday 1 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays 1:00 to 11:00 p.m
Fridays and Saturdays 1:00 to 11:00 p.m
Sundays. 1-5 p.m.
(This info does not jibe with that on their business card, so I advise you call ahead.)
Location: Morelia Centro, on Avenida Allende # 555, corner of Calle Andres Quintana Roo. Unfortunately, the Google Map place marker is offset a few meters to the west of the correct location.
View Larger Map