I consider myself to be Serious About Pizza. Like, drive-two-hours-across-state-lines-for-pizza serious. Keep this in mind while reading the following story about how I was so enamored by lunch at Pizza Barbone on Cape Cod in Hyannis, MA that I returned for dinner the next day.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have been up for driving forty minutes from Orleans to a pizza place in Hyannis on a humid, 82-degree day, but I’m what they call a Real Sport, so I indulged my boyfriend’s pizza obsession.
Pizza Barbone’s interior is sleek and modern. Cool gray walls, polished stone table and countertops, black brick detail in the back bar and pizza-making area. There were tables available but we opted to sit at the bar where we could see the pizzas being made in front of us by the chef-owner, Jason, and cooked in the custom-made wood-fired oven brought over from Naples.
Barbone background: Pizza Barbone began not as a restaurant, but as a mobile pizza oven. (The word “barbone” means “person who travels from place to places.”) How many pizzerias can claim that as their starting point? For that matter, if you’re looking for someone to cater your next Cape Cod party—birthday parties, wedding parties, summer gatherings—Pizza Barbone has got you covered. Their brick-and-mortar location was funded via a Kickstarter campaign.
My boyfriend ordered Barbone’s version of a pepperoni pizza: the soppressata pizza with San Marzano tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, and Parmigiano ($13). Soppressata is an Italian salami. Flavorwise, the soppressata made Barbone’s pizza much more interesting than the pepperoni pizza I’m used to.
My boyfriend gave me not one, but TWO bites of his pizza. “Don’t say I never did anything for you,” he told me while grudgingly handing over his fork. I can understand feeling resentful about giving up two bites of the soppressata pizza, because it really did knock the classic pepperoni out of the park.
I was stuck between the sweet sausage and Barbone meatball pizzas (both $14). When I asked the waitress to help me decide, she mentioned that the sweet sausage is more popular, so that’s the one I ordered: crumbled sweet sausage, San Marzano tomato, red onion, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, fresh oregano, Parmigiano.
The 12-inch pizzas are thin but the outer crust packs some serious doughy yumminess. The mozzarella was fresh and creamy. If you worry—as I did!—that pizza would be too heavy for a hot summer day on Cape Cod during tourist season, let me reassure you: Barbone is not a heavy pizza. Somehow it accomplished the task of being filling without feeling heavy.
Throughout the meal, there were several notes that signaled extra attention to detail. For example, our friendly waitress left me with a bottle of chilled ice water so that I could refill my glass at my own pace on this hot summer day without needing to wait for the staff. And the napkins, while not cloth, were high-quality and thicker than the typical throwaway paper napkins—the perfect choice for this setting. Ordinary paper napkins would have taken away from the sleekness, and white cloth napkins would have felt obnoxiously formal for a pizza lunch in a Cape Cod tourist center. These little details are noticed by diners (and bloggers).
Plus, sitting at the bar had an added bonus: We got to watch the chef-owner, Jason, make the pizzas right in front of us! We chatted with him while he worked. I was struggling to recall the name of a bakery in Prudential Center with amazing cookies, and Jason helpfully chimed in that it was Paradise Bakery. (+100 foodie points!)
I had been eyeing one of the dessert specials on the blackboard: an orange-almond flourless cake with whipped cream. I like orange, and I like almond, but what intrigued me most was realizing I couldn’t recall seeing the word “flourless” used for a cake that wasn’t chocolate. The cake was plenty moist but still retained a cakey texture, as opposed to the fudgey texture of typical flourless chocolate cakes.
I began writing this blog post back at our house in Orleans, a good 40-minute drive from Hyannis. The following morning I watched the Phantom Gourment segment that had convinced my boyfriend to try Pizza Barbone in the first place. Writing about the mouthwatering food had made me hungry for Barbone all over again, and watching the food on television pushed me over the edge.
So not 24 hours after our last meal there, I turned to my boyfriend and said, “Did you know Barbone has butterscotch pudding and ice cream cookie sandwiches? We need to go back tonight.”
I indulged his first trip. He indulged my second…
Thursday, June 27, 2013 …which included three dining partners: my boyfriend’s aunt and uncle, and their granddaughter.
Naturally, my boyfriend ordered the soppressata pizza again. His uncle got the previously-mentioned meatball pizza that I had been considering the day before, and his aunt got one of the evening’s specials: an eggplant pizza with peppers, red onion, feta, and oregano. Their granddaughter, MiniBlogger, ordered a plain cheese pizza. She announced without prompting that she doesn’t usually eat pizza crust, “but this is REALLY GOOD!” and did indeed eat every last bite of the eight-inch pizza.
The Phantom Gourmet segment had piqued my curiosity about the forest mushroom pizza, a white pizza with garlic cream, smoked mozzarella, rosemary, and truffle oil ($14). I don’t usually order dishes featuring mushrooms as a central ingredient, but this was a smoky, silky, earthy, aromatic marvel. I liked it even better than my sausage pizza the day before.
Dessert time! I was bummed the butterscotch pudding wasn’t on that evening’s dessert menu, but hey, menus change. Luckily the ice cream cookie sandwiches were available: chocolate-chip walnut cookies packed with vanilla gelato with a side of butterscotch sauce. My boyfriend opted for the house-made “Oreos” with vanilla bean filling, as did MiniBlogger. Omnomnom!
I was sad that it took me until the end of June to discover Barbone, because starting in July I avoid the peak tourist season on Cape Cod and don’t return until mid-September. But maybe I’ll break that rule. I’m just *that* passionate about pizza.
I think of “best pizza” by region. In Boston, it’s Pizzeria Regina. For Connecticut, Frank Pepe. For Rhode Island, Providence Coal-Fired Pizza. And for Cape Cod? Pizza Barbone. I can’t wait to return!
INFORMATION as of February 2015
Address & Phone
390 Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601