The Best Pizza in Music City
Nashville is less than four hours up the road for Atlantans and, like Atlanta, is a foodie destination in its own right. I visited the city for the first time this winter and was surprised how much colder it was just a little further north. Of course, when it’s chilly out, there’s nothing you want so much as warm, hearty food, and for that, what’s better than pizza?
Enter DeSano Pizza Bakery. When visiting a new city, I always try to seek out at least one restaurant that’s a favorite of locals. DeSano Pizza Bakery fit the bill, considered by many to be the best pizza in Music City. That’s a tall order for a food that’s such a staple of the American diet. I was prepared to be skeptical.
The first thing you notice on entering the dining room at DeSano are the giant wood-burning ovens in the open kitchen. You place your order with a cashier up front and then grab a table, preferably one facing the kitchen so you can watch the pizza chefs twirl dough and slip oversized pies in to bake.
The atmosphere is convivial. The pizza makers clearly enjoy their craft and you might even see an unbaked doughy disc whirl from one to another. Service is prompt and friendly, and the pies arrive at your table on a parchment-lined tray. It doesn’t get more authentic than this.
DeSano Pizza Bakery claims to use imported Italian ingredients to make their classic Neapolitan pizzas. And those wood-burning ovens? They’re responsible for the delicately blackened but still doughy crust. Having sampled some pizza during my trips to Italy, I can honestly say DeSano’s stands with the best of them: fresh toppings, yummy sauce and a thin, soft crust that might be made out of dreams — mine, anyway.
I ordered a medium margherita, one of their “tradizionale” pizzas, and topped it with mushrooms and meatballs. I also tried a large of their most popular pie, the San Gennaro, decked with sausage, onion, garlic, three kinds of cheese and peppadews, a cross between a red pepper and a cherry tomato. They’re not super spicy but almost sweet, pairing beautifully with the rich sausage and cheeses. I don’t care for spicy food, but I do like caramelized bell peppers, so these were about perfect for me. They’re generously sprinkled over the San Gennaro, so I found myself eating one or two off each slice to tone it down a notch to my level. Both pizzas were delicious. Sometimes when it’s really good, that’s the only word you can think of — delicious — certainly worthy of all the nomnom hashtags Instagram can hold. It’s seriously good pie.
I asked my cashier for suggestions on what else to order since DeSano offers a few other treats to complement your pie: meatballs, salads and a Nutella dessert pizza that seemed like an unhealthy decision I dearly wanted to make. He said the pizzas are by far the most popular and by way of desserts recommended a cannoli. I tried it since I like sweets, but in general, I’m not wild about cannoli. This one was pretty good, a lighter filling with a hint of lemon, though a shade sweeter than I care for. It wasn’t too small, which was a pleasant surprise, and I was able to share it with my husband without feeling stinted.
All told, it was a great experience. I ate at a number of restaurants on my trip to Nashville and this one goes down as the most memorable (and coincidentally, the best value). If you head up that way, be sure to stop by and indulge. You’ll be glad you did.