WORCESTER – At Dacosta’s Pizza Bakery, the pies are so tasty, you’ll want keep it all to yourself. New to Worcester, Dacosta’s calls itself a “pizza bakery,” something that leaves the locals a little confused.
“We’ve had a few people come in for other baked goods. We’ve had to turn them away, but pizza is a baked item so I thought it was appropriate,” said owner Marc Felicio. He started making pizza for fun about four years ago, and that hobby quickly turned into a full-fledged business.
“I hired these people from Naples to teach me the authentic way to cook Neapolitan pizza.”
Marc brought in family friend Maria Joseph to help create a cool looking space with high ceilings, an industrial feel, and an open kitchen where you can see everything go down.
“Everybody’s blown away,” she said. “We don’t have much of a presence from the street, so when they find us and they walk into this huge, awesome space, they’re blown away.”
Customers are also impressed with the state of the art dough room that’s visible from the dining room, and the massive red tiled, wood fired pizza oven cooking Neapolitan style pies in around two minutes.
“Our trained pizzaiolos stretch the dough, dress the dough, and then they put it in the wood fired oven. The challenge is controlling the wood in the fire, to cook a pizza in that two minute sweet spot that we like our pizzas cooked at,” Marc explained. “The dough has a lot of flavor, and if it’s cooked in that two minute window, it’s still crispy, but it’s nice and soft on the inside and it has a lot of flavor.”
There are creative pizzas like the Paulie G, loaded up with sopressata, hand crushed tomatoes, mozzarella and a drizzle of Mike’s hot honey; or the Potato and Pancetta, a white pizza topped with thinly sliced Yukon golds, caramelized onion, truffle oil and plenty of pancetta. The Go Fig Yourself pizza is like a flavor bomb for your mouth, loaded with gorgonzola, prosciutto, fig and fried rosemary. Then there is the Italian BLT, which combines two of Phantom’s favorite foods – pizza and a BLT.
“It’s arugula; it’s a bacon jam which we make, and heirloom cherry tomatoes,” March listed. “A BLT is such a popular item; it’s our Italian take on a BLT.”
But nothing beats the classics, like good old pepperoni.
“The pepperoni that we use is just phenomenal and that’s what makes the pizza,” Maria declared. “Every single bite has one piece of pepperoni. It’s just covered in roni.”
“People love pepperoni, but ours is just a cut above the rest,” Marc said. “It’s high quality. It curls up when it bakes. It creates a cup and that pepperoni grease pulls in the middle. It’s pretty decadent.”
Their massive oven isn’t just cooking up pizzas. The Wood Fired Italian Wings are marinated in lemon, olive oil, garlic and rosemary and get the added flavor of wood when they’re finished at 800 degrees.
“It just gives that smoky wood element to the wing that makes it unique. It keeps it juicy on the inside, but crispy on the outside. So it really crisps them up, gives them a good smoky wood flavor, and they’re really, really unique and delicious,” Marc said.
Other apps include the Hand Cut Fries toss with Parmesan and truffle oil, and the Sausage and Pepper Plate for some protein before all of that pizza. Then there’s addictive arancini stuffed with fontina and mozzarella, Maria’s personal favorite.
“We make saffron risotto, and then with the cheese, and they’re gooey and melting inside. You bite into it and you get a crunch and just a creaminess, and it just melts in your mouth.”
While the arancini may be her favorite thing to eat, the meatballs are definitely Maria’s favorite thing to make.
“I’ve always made my own meatballs, and I take a lot of pride in that because meatballs are a big deal, and people judge you on the meatballs.”
“They taste like my aunts and my grandmother used to make,” Marc boasted. ”She makes them herself. She doesn’t let anyone else do it. She uses the right blend of spices. It’s just a good Italian meatball.”
The Italian specialties continue right through dessert, with hot zeppole topped with a dusting of powdered sugar, and served with Nutella and mascarpone for dipping.
“It’s an Italian donut and the batter has ricotta cheese, mascarpone. It’s more like a pancake batter,” Maria explained. ”People come back for the zeppole day after day after day. They’re awesome.”
With pizzas averaging in the low teens, you’ll find you can afford to dine at Dacosta’s Pizza Bakery every day. You’ll find Dacosta’s at 40 Millbrook Street in Worcester, and online at dacostaspizzabakery.com.
Watch Phantom Gourmet on Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30 and 11 a.m. on myTV38.