I’ve read many controversial things about Jeff in numerous food reviews and blogs, but I’m just going to report what happened that night. He was warm and personable to everyone at our AEN meeting. He hand-delivered our pizzas and talked with many attendees. He worked the group like a pro, and he even made special custom pies that he himself liked. In short, Jeff was a charming consummate host. I also want to give a shout to Candace and Jeff’s supporting staff. You will be in good hands when you visit this friend of the LGBT community.
The décor was cool New York chic: minimalist design, clean curves and lots of trendy low-hanging pendant lights with glowing zig-zag filaments. The sexy bar has a large angelic mural straight from a bottle of chianti. Toward the end of Varasano’s you’ll see the large, open stone kitchen with the high-tech, high-temperature ovens.
How was the fare? Absolutely delicious. We started with off the menu bruschetta — crispy, scratch-made bread crust with tomatoes and garlic. And then came the feast. I literally tried almost everything on the menu and was happily overwhelmed after a couple of hours.
One of my favorites was the Chica Bella and she was a pretty little lady. First Jeff takes his artisanal scratch crust, topped with high quality mozzarella and ricotta, baked at an extremely high temperature so the crust is charred crispy and the cheese is melted and gooey. Then the whole rich pie is topped with fresh, snappy arugula laced with lemon juice so you have a juxtaposition of rich cheese and crisp greens – addictive.
I was really looking forward to trying the white New Haven Clam pie; Jeff and his staff’s handmade crust topped with sweet New Haven Clams white garlic sauce. Next came the Fontina with gourmet mushrooms, followed by the rich decadent Salumi. The Salumi was over the top. It was like going to a fine Italian deli and putting hand-crafted meats in a blazing hot oven so the fat renders out like bacon on a hot skillet, leaving crispy, rich complex flavor.
I had to try the classic Margherita di Bufala; the classic cheese pizza with scratch red sauce and bufala mozzarella. What is bufala mozzarella? It’s made from the milk of a Water Buffalo. Did I mention this is not your standard pizza place? Then Jeff sent out his desert pie dressed with Medjool Dates & Fontina dressed with Honey and Walnuts. I was spent.
How much would this experience cost? Not that much. You can get one of Jeff’s pies from $12-15, big enough for two, and two glasses of Parados Malbec (a soft fruity complex red wine) and spend a little over $30 for two.
Jeff and his staff craft savory pizza. They are passionate about their product and genuinely care about the end result. It’s Fierce with a capital F.
Top photo: The savory pies at Varasano’s take pizza to a whole new level of culinary sophistication. (Publicity photo)