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A Little Slab of Heaven: Press Herald, Boston Globe Show Love for Lanzalotta's Pizza

A profile and a rave review may have you rethinking your dinner plans.

Adam H. Callaghan

The Boston Globe has a profile of Slab and its chef/co-owner Stephen Lanzalotta. It's not a review, but the descriptions are lovingly detailed. The signature dish is "bubbly slices of a lofty, rich, but light-textured crust topped with a thin layer of smooth, sweet tomato sauce and channels of gooey cheese."

The pizza is derived from another Lanzalotta specialty, one he's been spent even more time perfecting: Luna bread. It's "a crescent-shaped loaf with a gorgeously airy, yet resilient, crumb that Lanzalotta has been making for decades and modestly calls 'the most versatile bread on the planet.'"

Is it as tasty as it sounds? The Press Herald's James Schwartz says yes, yes, "oh my God," yes. He gives the restaurant four stars, asserting that "every ecstatic compliment - every accolade for Slab's intensely flavored, carbohydrate-laced menu - is deserved."

He raves about the "refreshing" Ceci alla Sicilia hummus appetizer ($6) and wants "to bathe in" the sweet and sour Caponata Shoe ($9), an open-faced sandwich with roasted eggplant, onions, olives, capers, and celery. He recommends skipping breakfast and lunch to leave room for the Hand Slab ($6), which may have turned him off of thin crust forever. And that's all before turning to the specials menu, which changes regularly and deserves attention.

For dessert, ricciarelli ($2.50 each), flourless almond cookies, receive their share of praise, as well. "They are intensely moist, densely nutty confections with a velvety interior and a paper-thin sugary crust. Think almond torte on steroids or marzipan gone wild," Schwartz explains.

The critic has a few quibbles, only one of which is food-related: The panzanella bread salad ($9) doesn't grab him the way the other dishes do. It "paled beside other more piquant entrees," he says.

Otherwise, two of the aesthetic choices don't jive entirely. "The whimsical wooden spoons offered with cannoli ($6) feel a bit splintery on the tongue, and the torn lengths of brown paper used as place mats get oil- and sauce-stained in short order." Schwartz concedes that the owners "deserve kudos for thinking green," though, as these features help the restaurant bill itself as "100% biodegradable and recyclable."

With such minor complaints overshadowed by such high praise, it's questionable how the restaurant didn't receive another half or full star. The reviewer ends his piece as glowingly as he began it: "I can't remember the last time I enjoyed such a transcendent feast of street food in a sit-down setting. I felt as if I'd died and gone to heaven. Only this time, I'll be back."

Perhaps in today's secular world, heaven just isn't what it used to be.

Slab

25 Preble Street Extension, Portland, ME 04101 (207) 245-3088 Visit Website