When it comes to pizza, I get a little excited. I’ve been lucky to try some of the best in the country (DiFara’s, Totonno’s, Motorino, Pepe’s, Antico Neapolitan) so I think I’ve got some idea of what a good neapolitan or NY thin-crust pizza is about. The recent addition of Pompieri Pizza in Durham had me pumped so it was time for a visit! Along with 8 friends, we stopped in to try this newly opened spot that will have to take the place of Pizzeria Toro until it re-opens.
Located next to Dos Perros on City Hall Plaza, Pompieri inhabits an interesting space that doesn’t quite show things off properly. Lattice front windows in traditional white, Pompieri opens up to a cavernous interior with a casual pizza dining room and order counter in back. To the right there’s a bar and some stool seating if you’re dining single. It’s a big space with a mish-mash of decor, a row of fish tanks and hydroponic herb/plant trays line the entry way to the counter. I’m assuming they grow fresh herbs for the pies here but we were scratching our head on the fish tanks. There were no menus at the door so we headed up front where they do have a stand with menus along with beer and specials chalked up on a board. We order up a pompieri and pork belly pizza along with a sausage app along with a beer for our meal!
Like Bull City Burger, you get a small stand/sign so the server can identify you for delivery of your meal. Long, deeply grained communal tables line the dining room and can probably seat about 10 people each. With two ovens in the kitchen, Pompieri can definitely pump out some pizzas. They typically bake at about 800 degrees and come out after 5 minutes or less. First out is my sausage app, a thinnish sausage in a hearty baked tomato sauce and rectangular slice of focaccia. A very deep and rich tomato sauce, the sausage was ok and they should probably provide a bit more focaccia. Pompieri is a bit tight on napkins, you get one with your meal but otherwise they’re sorta tough to find without a special request.
In our large party, I get to see all the other pies flow in. They’re all about 12+ ” and nicely blistered with dark char spots around the edge. Our two pies show up and they look very nice. My pork belly shows up sans cheese and is dotted with chunks of meat and a handful of cracklins. The pies are delivered whole and you’ve got a pair of kitchen shears to slice up the pie which is a bit unusual. Very tasty once you get past the absence of mozzarella. The pompieri is a more typical neapolitan pie with mozzarella and peppadew providing some sweetness to the pizza. The crust is nicely crisp and thin with good dough, a solid Neapolitan effort. With a small menu of beers and gelato you’ve got some options to bling out your pizza meal at Pompieri.
So what can I say but it may take some time to digest all that is Pompieri Pizza! Overall good and interesting za but there were some misses. Interior and decor is a bit thrown together and could use some improvement. Service was enthusiastic but felt pretty inexperienced for counter service. And the overall quirkiness of the place has to be appreciated or could be a sticking point for diners. It’s definitely too soon to pass judgement on Pompieri Pizza right so take this post for what it is, a first impression for a new restaurant that will probably evolve quickly. I will be back soon to give her another whirl and eat some porkbelly pizza!