I think you can argue that Neapolitan pizza is still largely unknown in this city. Earlier this summer, we got to check out the first place in town that specializes in these kinds of pies.
Toward the end of July, the people behind a great local site called Chattanooga Eats put together a meet-and-greet at a new restaurant called Fiamma on the North Shore. They were introducing their site and giving local food fans – I guess that “influencers” must be the right word, since these were principally Instagram people who do not blog – a chance to meet each other and learn about this interesting restaurant. Fiamma opened for business in late May, after more than a year of preparation. Learning to make Neapolitan pizza requires a lot of work. (If you’re unfamiliar with the style, check out Serious Eats for some more background.)
We got to meet Fiamma’s owners, who have been working in restaurants for many years. They have the local Five Guys franchise, but they have wanted to create their own place and set up their own menu. So, some training in Italy and the purchase of one of those clay ovens from Naples later, they moved into the building on Market Street once occupied by a sign company, turned the loading dock into a bar – no wine yet, but a nice line in lambics and sours – and have been getting lots of local attention this summer.
We got to try their very tasty meatball appetizers and they brought out four pizzas for us to sample. As with most Neapolitan places, they use double zero flour and San Marzano tomatoes for the most authentic taste possible. They have vegetarian and vegan offerings, and in fact the vegan pie here was my second-favorite of the ones that we tried. But the # 8 pie, with salami and olives, was the runaway winner. Certainly this was a pretty salty pie, but it was so good. Getting high-quality ingredients makes all the difference.
We’ve noticed that a few styles of food that, as Atlantans, we take for granted are still a little under-the-radar in Chattanooga. (We’re still looking for authentic Sichuan cooking, for example!) A few years ago, the very popular Community Pie started making Neapolitan pizza, but they do not specialize in it, and also offer some deliberately non-traditional and delightfully silly topping suggestions that go against the standard for the take-everything-really-serious crowd. So Fiamma is the first place in town to devote themselves to classic, traditional Neapolitan pies, compared to Atlanta where the style is incredibly common and seen at quite a few restaurants.
We really enjoyed the pies here and think they’re as good as what we’re used to from places like Double Zero or Varuni Napoli. The restaurant is a great pick for a casual first date or a fun night out with your family, and I can imagine we’ll probably come back from time to time ourselves.
405 N Market St
Chattanooga, TN 37405
(As noted, this was a media event and our meal was complimentary. It’s our policy to always note when we’ve received our meal without charge. If you would like to invite us to your restaurant’s media events, please drop Grant a line at firstname.lastname@example.org .)
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