Community Pie serving Neapolitan pizza

By Barry Courter Article posted on Thu. Feb. 14th, 2013
The Caponata pie from Community Pizza features San Marzano tomato sauce, eggplant caponata, basil, smoked mozzarella and sea salt. The salad had arugula, pine nuts, pecorino romano, cracked black pepper and lemon viniagrette.
The Caponata pie from Community Pizza features San Marzano tomato sauce, eggplant caponata, basil, smoked mozzarella and sea salt. The salad had arugula, pine nuts, pecorino romano, cracked black pepper and lemon viniagrette.
Photo by Barry Courter /Chattanooga Times Free Press.
IF YOU GO

Where: Community Pie, 850 Market St.

Phone: 423-486-1743.

Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Price range: $10-$16 for 12-inch pizzas.

Pizza can come in all sizes and flavors. Most folks fall into two main camps: deep-dish, Chicago style or thin-crust, New York-style foldable slices.

A new pizza place in town does Neapolitan pizza, which is the traditional Italian style of pie-making. There are actually rules, as established by Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, stipulating how a pie is to be made to be labeled as a Neapolitan pizza. Community Pizza adheres to most of these.

The crust is made with 00 flour, the most finely ground Italian flour available. Only San Marzano tomatoes, which grow on the side of Mount Vesuvius, are used, and the pizzas are cooked at 900 degrees. This allows them to be ready in 60 to 90 seconds.

I stopped there last week to get a to-go pie for lunch.

THE MENU

I like places that concentrate on doing a few things well, and Community Pie's menu is pretty straightforward.

Five appetizers are offered, including Kobe Meatballs ($12), made with Kobe beef, the restaurant's own fennel sausage, goat cheese, house marinara and homemade ricotta. Other choices are Grown-Up Fried Cheese ($7), Venice Dip made with spinach and artichoke ($9), Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup ($10) and Community Pie Ricotta & Honey ($7).

You also can order toast, which is two slices of roasted bread topped with things like salami and eggs, mushrooms and cream, or sausage and peppers. The choices are $5 or $6.

Five salads come in small or large sizes and are priced from $4 to $12. According to the menu, you also can order a salad for the whole table.

The back page of the menu lists the weekly pizza specials. There were 12, all 12 inches. The Roasted Mushroom ($12) likely qualified as the most traditional. The Hot Hawaiian ($13) would be next, only because pineapple has become more common in recent years.

Among the more unusual pies were the Pork Confit ($14), Duck Confit ($16), Sweet Fig ($14), Lamb Sausage ($14) and Nueske's Bacon ($13). You also could choose either a Margherita ($10), Marinara ($9) or Caponata ($12) pie.

With a new place, you can either go with the more exotic item or the seemingly simple one to get sort of a baseline. The Duck Confit -- with slow-cooked duck leg, smoky turnip greens, potlikker reduction, oven-dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and egg -- certainly qualified as exotic for pizza. The Margherita, which is sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and sea salt, would have fit the second choice, but I went with the Caponata. It seemed somewhere in between. I also got a small arugula salad.

The pie was made with the house-made San Marzano tomato sauce, eggplant caponata, hand-torn basil, smoked mozzarella and sea salt.

The idea behind Neapolitan pizza is to keep it relatively simple and let the freshness of the flavors shine. You shouldn't be overwhelmed by a sauce that is too sweet or too tangy, and you shouldn't taste just the dough.

It was a good pizza. I especially liked being able to taste the richness of the tomatoes. The salad was arugula, pecorino romano, cracked black pepper, lemon vinaigrette and some pine nuts -- which just make everything taste fancier and better, kind of like capers. It was a perfect complement.

Craft beers and homemade gelato from Milk and Honey are also available.

THE PLACE

Community Pie is in the old Market Street Tavern at Miller Plaza. It has been completely redone and is now a wide-open, modern space with a large bar running half the length along Market Street. Big booths line one wall, and the rest of the space is filled with round-top and bar-top tables.

A separate patio extends onto the sidewalk area of Miller Plaza. A big metal gate allows access to the bar.

It is owned by husband and wife Mike and Taylor Monen, who also own Urban Stack and Taco Mamacita, as well as the gelato shop Milk and Honey. It is more of an upscale, bar-type setting than a place to take the soccer team after a game.

THE SERVICE

I ordered to go from the bar, and the bartender server was helpful and friendly. She asked if it was my first time in and explained what a Neapolitan pizza was and answered questions.

THE VERDICT

This is upscale pizza and not what you would order to quiet a bunch of kids at a sleepover. It was also pricey; my pie, salad and tip ran $20, but you are paying for quality. I also took half of the pizza home. One with a salad should be plenty for two people.

Pizza to me is often better the next morning. This was not the case here. By that evening, the leftover Caponata had morphed into something different and not entirely tasty.

I do want to go back and try the Duck Confit and the Kobe Meatballs, however.

Contact staff writer Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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