Dough Pizzeria Napoletana: VPNot

Preston Hollow's newest Pizzeria makes decent pizza, but it's not as authentic as the menu claims

Ten years ago I hopped a plane and flew to Rome, took a train north to Florence and then back south to Orvietto, a small town in southwestern Umbria, before returning eventually to Rome. I didn't tour the Vatican, the Coliseum or the Pantheon. Didn't walk the halls of the Uffizi Gallery. And I didn't shop for gold and leather along the Arno. All I did was eat.

Over long and lavish lunches I consumed rabbit and squab and veal. I ate pasta Amatriciana, Bolagnese and Carbonara. In the mornings I ate small pastries and drank jet-black coffee. In the afternoons I'd sometimes snack on gelato. But every night, I ate the same thing: pizza.

In Orvietto, a menu printed in Italian was only a temporary handicap. I picked a pie at random and waited in the small, crowded dining room while pulling from cheap Italian beer. My pizza arrived a few minutes later, lightly topped with mozzarella, a few wisps of prosciutto and, in the center, a single egg, its yolk a bright and glistening yellow.

Pizza chef Robert Proehl shows off Dough's dough.
Sara Kerens
Pizza chef Robert Proehl shows off Dough's dough.
Sara Kerens

Details

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana Pork Love $20 Marghertita STG $20 Fontina $16 Antipasto $18 Autumn Burrata $14 Nonna’s Salad $9 Roasted Olives $9

That yolk turned out to be the best crust-dipper I've ever encountered, and that pizza launched a life-long hunt for authentic Italian pie — a search made easier, at times, by the Vera Pizza Napoletana Association (VPN), an organization devoted to the protection of Neapolitan pizza.

My northern Italian pizzas weren't technically Neapolitan, but in stateside pizzerias, Naples' approval often means you're in for an authentically Italian pie. Founded in 1984, the VPN's mission is simple: to increase the value of the pizzas produced and processed according to Neapolitan tradition. The group maintains tight protocol for the preparation and processing of certified pizzas. Flour, water, salt and yeast – the amount and type and treatment of each is specified. Toppings have to be just so; Italian plum tomatoes and a choice of Mozzarella di Bufala or Firo-di-latte are mandated for a margherita, a special sauce laced with fresh garlic is prescribed for a marinara. A restaurant that passes a stringent inspection receives a sequential VPN number and a certificate to post inside the pizzeria.

Peppe Miele is the president for VPN Americas LLC, the American branch of the Italian organization. His restaurant, Antica Pizzeria (#58 ), was the first American pizzeria certified VPN. By the time the second stateside pizzeria was blessed with the VPN logo, Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon, 106 restaurants around the world shared the honor.

Cavalli Pizza (#265) in Irving was the first Texas Pizzeria to be VPN-certified, in 2007. Campania Pizza (#284) in Southlake followed in November 2008. When Luciano (#283) and Dough Pizzeria (#292) in San Antonio were certified, they shared the honor with 56 other pizzerias in the States; 63 American restaurants are currently listed on the VPN website.

By August 2011, when the second Dough Pizzeria Napoletana opened, in Preston Hollow, Dallas' pizza enthusiasm was already swelling like a blackened crust blister. The San Antonio location had recently been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, and Guy Fieri and his spiky hair had whipped local pizza enthusiasts into a froth. Customers waited outside in sweltering heat to be the first to try Dallas' latest addition to the Neapolitan pizza scene.

The excitement was understandable. Preston Hollow had already gotten a taste of the good stuff, only to have it yanked away. In 2010, Jay Jerrier set up a temporary pop-up pizzeria in a small tea house called Chocolate Angel Too, in a large strip mall at the corner of Preston and Forest. Jerrier had left Campania Pizza in Southlake after ushering it through its VPN certification. He thought the shop was cutting corners and wanted to embark on his own project, something that stayed true to the Neapolitan rules. (Campania has since lost its VPN status).

Jerrier pulled up a trailer-mounted pizza oven, swiped credit cards with a reader tethered to a laptop and served up pies to BYOBing customers. But the pop-up, dubbed Cane Rosso, lasted just six months. The owners of Chocolate Angel Too had seen the power of the pie, and they wanted in on the action, but negotiations with Jerrier over a permanent pizzeria fell apart. In June of 2010 Jerrier tossed his last round in Preston Hollow and took Cane Rosso to Deep Ellum.

Still craving their pie shop, Chocolate Angel Too's owners, Keith Hall and Brad Liles, partnered with Doug and Lori Horn, the owners of Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, who were looking to expand out of San Antonio. They ordered another volcanic stone pizza oven from Italy and painted the walls of the former tea shop a deep and rusty red. They bought Formica tables and booths of faux leather. And just over a year after Jerrier pulled his trailer away for good, Dough Pizzeria Napoletana's second location opened for business.

Since the San Antonio location maintains its status with the VPN, everyone assumed the new Dough would also be certified by the pizza pope. They sure make it look like they are. The menu reads "Authentic Pizza Napoletana" across the top and tells diners that "pizzerias that follow the rules are allowed to make true Pizza Napoletana and display the certification logo." The rules are then summarized in a few bullets on the menu, giving the distinct impression that Dough's ability to follow those rules has been tested and approved. A recent review in the Dallas Morning News celebrated its VPN status, saying the restaurant management "takes pride" in its certification. The same sentiments are echoed on the pizzeria's website.

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6 comments
dantheman
dantheman

That sounds soo delicious! Wish they had a pizzeria closer to us. Maybe if they had an online shop with lighting fast delivery! hehe

Smigrobustus
Smigrobustus

You start your article on NEAPOLITAN pizza with a decription of pizza you hade in ORVIETO?? These two are different. Different ingredients, different techniques, different ovens, ESPECIALLY different ovens..........So theres youre first mistake.

Then, did I misunderstand, or did you infer that raising the dough under refer is something NOT DONE in VPN stores....whether in naples or the USA?? Cause, I got news, its done...a lot....and theres nothing wrong with it, or is it against the "rules" of the vpn. Cane Rosso uses a 48 hour cool rise.........

ANd oregano IS allowed on a Marg....as much as I HATE using the word ALLOWED. To me, VPN simply ties American Pizza makers hands....but, for some owners and OBVIOUSLY for some writers, VPN is something magical.

To the writer..if you don't like Dough, fine, tell us what you don't like about the flavor or service or atmosphere.......but if you are trying to give your readers a cliff note version of what is "vpn" and what isn't......sorry, you fell short.

And its funny, VPN is so almighty...THEY state that finishing that 21 hour course DOES make one a "certified" pizzaiolo...........

barbeedog
barbeedog

I LOVE THIS PLACE.. I am DEEE Lighted it is here. The service was fantastic.

muerco
muerco

Here, free copy editing: Orvieto. Bolognese. Fior di latte. Those sounded screechy notes in an otherwise pretty accurate review. I don't really know why Dough's margherita has an oregano flavor to it, but that tastes of Little Italy instead of Italy. And truffle oil makes me suspicious of any chef's motives.

Gipson
Gipson

My one visit to Dough was good but a bit expensive, and it certainly was no match to my favorites such as Cane Rosso, Urban Crust and Zanata. I'll never understand the droopy pizza, though. Pizza should be cracker-crisp from circumference to center mass.

One time at Fireside Pies I asked them to cook it to the edge of black, and they did - and it was fabulous - but they were so afraid I wouldn't like it that they made me another pizza anyway, and I got to take it home for free.

(Cool story, bro.)

 
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