Updated: Mar 8, 2019
Having grown up in the Boston area, moving across the state to the Berkshires really made me miss two things—getting FANTASTIC Chinese food at 2 AM, and having amazing Italian pizza from Boston's North End, more specifically, Neapolitan pizza. Thankfully in Great Barrington, Ben Downing also thought that Berkshire County was lacking in the pizza department, and so DOLA Pizzeria Napoletana was born—SCORE! Ben also runs and co-owns 20 Railroad Street Public House where Me and Chris both work. Chris jumped at the chance to start making pizzas at DOLA when Ben asked him, and now I got a Pizzaiolo boyfriend—DOUBLE SCORE!!
Nestled in a small alleyway between Railroad Street and the Triplex Cinema, DOLA is a small cafe style pizzeria serving personal-sized traditional Neapolitan pizzas. Walking in you descend a small ramp into the restaurant, the brick walls from the alleyway outside continue into the space where it meets the white tiles and brushed metal accents inside. Immediately as you enter you can see the entire space—small, yet utterly charming. The restaurant seats about 12, with four two-top tables along a shared bench wall directly across from the door, and another four chairs along a wall-mounted countertop immediately to the left of the entrance. The shared bench wall of the two-tops is a great use of this small space, as it allows more people to squish in, and the tables can be moved around to easily accommodate larger groups. Right where the wall countertop ends, a white marble order counter juts out dividing the space into two, with the front half for the dining room, and in the back half the kitchen where the star of this show resides—the wood-fired oven. Hand built in Naples, Italy (the birthplace of pizza as we know it) by Acunto Mario, third-generation artisan brick-oven builders. Weighing in at over 3 tons, burning at nearly 900ºF, and decked out in black tiles with DOLA emblazoned in white on the front.....this thing means business.
Standing up at the counter, there's a large chalkboard to your right with the whole menu on it. DOLA has their pizzas split between 'The Reds' (with tomato sauce) and 'The Whites' (without tomato sauce), as well as a build-your-own listing with all their ingredients to choose from. While the guys at DOLA are happy to make your pizza dreams a reality, they recommend keeping your toppings to five at most. With Neapolitan pizzas the crust is thin, and just about a foot wide, so too many toppings can cause your pizza to rip in the oven, and nobody wants that. In addition to their fantastic pizzas, DOLA also offers two salads: a classic caesar salad and a house arugula salad (with dried cherries, shaved radishes, feta cheese, arugula from Equinox Farm, and a balsamic vinaigrette). Each of their listed pizzas has its own name, all based off of a certain sitcom from the early 90s. My favorite pizza is the 'Chris' and not because of the name (it wasn't named after my Chris), but because it is so amazing: San Marzano tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cooked to perfection, then topped with fresh arugula, prosciutto di Parma, grana padano (think parmesan), then drizzled with a balsamic reduction. This combination of ingredients has always been a favorite of mine. I don't know if it's because I love the combination of sweet and salty or if it's just that farm fresh arugula....but all I want to do is that Italian finger kiss thing... muah, perfecto! One of my other favorite pizzas from 'the whites' is the Ed: fresh mozzarella, broccoli rabe, shaved garlic, spicy Italian sausage and pecorino cheese—it’s like I’m back in the North End! I even remember back in the winter (when DOLA had first opened) I was trying to do a low-carb diet, which is awful when you're boyfriend makes pizza. One night Chris brought the 'Ed' home with us. As we were driving home, and since my diet didn't let me eat the dough itself, I started picking off the toppings and eating them instead, it was just that good. Chris was a bit upset when he found out his pizza was bare....but I wasn't that sorry, this pizza is too good.
Eating one of these pies is like being transported right into old Napoli. And it's no surprise, Ben had the vision to make DOLA as authentic as any pizzeria in Naples. That means two things: simplicity and quality of the ingredients. The dough has only four ingredients, water, salt, yeast, and Caputo flour, imported from Naples. The tomato sauce is even simpler: just salt and San Marzano tomatoes, again imported from Naples. The key to good pizza is to let the ingredients speak for themselves. And that dough, oh man, that dough is singing! So soft, light and airy, yet crispy with the right amount of charring on the outside, and cooking at 900ºF, pizzas only take 2 minutes! And after you've had your fill of pizza, what better way to end your meal than fresh cannolis? Now I've had my fair share of cannoli's in the North End (No, not Mike's Pastry....Modern Pastry is definitely superior), and I'm extremely judgemental of desserts. And these cannolis make the cut by leaps and bounds. The key is that they fill the shells to order, rather than have them pre-made. This keeps the shell nice and crunchy on the outside and deliciously sweet and creamy on the inside.
As with all great food, you must have good drinks with it. Keeping up with that authentic feel, DOLA offers a variety of imported Italian sodas and waters as well as wine and beer. They have a white and a red for wine (both Italian obviously), and three beers on draft. Currently, they're pouring Peroni, Singlecut Half Stack IPA, and Shiner Bock. If you're like me, nothing pairs better with pizza than an ice cold Peroni, light and drinkable with that perfect golden color that just screams beer. They also carry Full Sail Session Lager in bottles, and cans of Nine Pin Hard Cider, a local cider maker from Albany, NY for those non-beer drinkers.
Ben's dream has always been to open up a Neapolitan pizzeria, and he stayed true to his word. If you like to support local business owners that are making truly wonderful food, then DOLA is the place to be. From the oven to the dough itself, it is truly a godsend for me to have this pizzeria in the Berkshires—it's definitely what the Berkshires needed. Authentic Neapolitan wood-fired pizza tucked into a nice cozy little alley. Chris is loving the pizza life, making the dough, cooking the pizzas, even seeing all the fresh ingredients that come in each day. I'm a lucky girl for having this pizza brought home to me.....needless to say, I have to bend my low-carb diet a bit to fully experience this pizza each time. You can find DOLA right around the corner from 20 Railroad Street Public House heading towards the movie theater. But if you ever do get lost just remember D.O.L.A. is just 'Down Our Little Alley'.
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