A few years ago I found myself in Nashville for a conference. The functions ended on Saturday night but my flight home didn’t leave until late Sunday. I had a day to myself and went exploring. My hotel was in Brentwood so I drove through the neighborhoods and marveled at the insane variety of McMansions before heading downtown.
Before visiting the Ryman and walking down Broadway, I needed to eat. I had recently watched the Nashville episode of Foo Fighter’s Sonic Highways and was enthralled with the Southern Ground recording studio. It is located in a cool, old church that merited a drive-by. Luckily for me there was a pizza place right next door.
I walked into DiSano Pizza Bakery and was a little overwhelmed by the choices. I ordered a small Capricciosa pizza and went into the dining room. In back there is a crew of people kneading and tossing dough, adding sauce and toppings, and maintaining the cooking pizzas in the three large fire-burning ovens. While the team quietly worked on my pizza, I explored their garlic and oil bar.
There were different kinds of olive oil, garlic, salts, peppers, parmesan cheese — everything needed to make the perfect crust-dipping concoction. As I mixed my various potions, I imagined Zac Brown walking in from his studio doing the same. My guess is he would go heavy on the garlic and pepper. I did the same. My breath would be kicking for the rest of the day but I didn’t care.
The pizza arrived on a tray and I was in heaven. I had nowhere to be for hours and an 11” pizza to myself. I chowed down. It was delicious. When I was done, I took my garlic-breath on to the next adventure.
A year or so later I found myself preparing to return to Nashville for another conference. This time, instead of leaving things to chance, I knew I would be visiting DiSano Pizza Bakery. In my planning, I discovered that DiSano serves authentic Neapolitan pizza. Naples, Italy invented pizza: thin crust, light sauce, rich flavors. DiSano carries the tradition here in the states. There is even an official certification of authentic Neapolitan pizza and at the time I visited, DiSano was on the list. Here in Florida there is only one certified restaurant in the entire state and it is, of course, found at Epcot’s version of Italy.
Not being a Sunday afternoon, the restaurant was packed. Valet parking out front. A college sorority date-function in the private room — a pizza place with a private banquet room. The team of workers in the back were a well-oiled machine. Dough was flying from one station across the room to another as it was requested. Pizzas were being served to tables and boxed for delivery orders. It was a sight to see.
The second time I visited, the pizza was just as I had remembered it. Slight char on the crust accentuated by the garlic and oil combination I dipped it in. The flavors were wonderful.
Authentic Neapolitan pizza isn’t easy to come by. It’s not something that the major chains serve and, when you think of pizza, it is not what comes to mind… until you’ve tried it. Then it’s very hard to shake the flavors. Maybe someday I’ll find myself in Naples and try the real stuff. Until then I’ll settle for DiSano’s the next time I’m in Nashville and Via Napoli when I’m at Epcot.
Photo credit: the author.