Friday, December 2, 2011

Bar Toma

In one of the gazillion media pieces about Bar Toma, a representative was quoted as saying that the pizza is not Neapolitan style. Instead, the Bar Toma rep said, it’s “Bar Toma style,” which he or she explained was based on some life changing pizza that their research team had in Rome. Or something like that. Whatever they want to call it, toppings aside Bar Toma’s pizza is much closer to what one might find at a mid-scale Italian restaurant in Tulsa than anything I ever had in Italy. Though some of the toppings might challenge your average Oklahoman tourist, if she stays with something that sounds familiar she’ll be pleased with the recognizably bready, structurally homogenous and boring pizza she’s had for much of her life. I chose the bianco, which has lardo, rosemary and way too much of some kind of grating cheese that was applied before baking and therefore came out with a chalky, dry texture and sharp, salty taste that distracted from the luscious and mild lardo.

Trippa alla napoletana was OK, but while my favorite versions have a relatively even balance of sauce to tripe, this one was basically a giant bowl of good tomato sauce with a scant scattering of relatively tender, mild tripe. Inoffensive but not very interesting.

Silky and intense lemon sorbetto was the best thing I tasted, followed closely by a “Spreetz” unlike any Spritz I had on my relatively recent trip to Venice. Bar Toma’s was more balanced, without the over-the-top bitterness that overwhelmed all of the versions I had there. It was served in a wine glass, which I found odd.

I suppose one should evaluate Bar Toma on its own merits and in doing so it’s probably a good place. It’s better than that if you compare it to most options in the immediate vicinity. But I couldn’t help but compare Bar Toma with the pioneer of real food on the Mag Mile - The Purple Pig, In the end I couldn’t help but conclude that Bar Toma is playing it safer, and I’d strongly recommend the Bannos’ joint over Mantuano’s.