TUO ZAAFI WITH AYOYO SOUP
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Rhode Island pizza comes from bakeries, not pizza parlors. It’s cheeseless, heavy on the tomato sauce, and eaten at room temperature. Intrigued? You should be. Pizza strips, as they’re called here, are simply a thick doughy base—almost like a focaccia bread—slathered with fresh tomato sauce and baked in large trays. Sometimes there’s a hint of rosemary or basil or a dusting of parmesan cheese, and there can be other toppings, but that’s essentially it. Yes, it’s more like “tomato bread” than anything resembling pizza, but don’t get hung up on the name. Long a staple of local kids’ birthday parties and cookouts, pizza strips are fun, on-the-go food—and pretty satisfying when fresh and well made.
Where: A local pointed us toward award-winning LaSalle Bakery (two branches including 685 Admiral St., map), a family-owned Providence fixture since 1930. One look at the trays of fresh pizza strips and tempting breads, pastries, and tarts told us we’d found the right place.
When: Mon-Sat, 6am-8pm; Sun, 6am-6pm
Order: Pizza strips go for 99 cents a pop, and it’s hard to have just one (boxes are $19.99, and there are trays if you’re expecting company). Here the tomato sauce is thick and tastes super fresh, sweet, and tangy; the focaccia has a nice chew and crisp edge, without being overly greasy. We liked the plain red as well as an olive- and onion-topped version, which we preferred heated up.
Good to know: Another type of pizza associated with Rhode Island is grilled pizza, for which the dough is cooked over a wood-fired grill before toppings are added. Try it in Providence at Bacaro (262 South Water St., map) or Al Forno (577 South Main St., map), where it was invented by accident in 1980.
Alternatively: There are plenty of good bakeries for pizza strips around, chief among them Palmieri’s (multiple locations including 147 Ridge St., map) in Providence—which bills itself as the state’s oldest Italian bakery—D. Palmieri’s (624 Killingly St., map) in Johnston, and DePetrillo’s Pizza & Bakery (multiple locations including 1727 Warwick Ave., map) in Warwick, Coventry, and Smithfield.
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