Last weekend I had the privilege of dining at Ducali in the North End along with some fellow bloggers and cookbook author Crescent Dragonwagon. I was particularly excited to meet Crescent, who I have been a fan of for years. I received one of her earlier books, Passionate Vegetarian, from my mom about ten years ago. During lunch, Crescent answered all sorts of questions about beans, her favorite recipes, the writing process and more. She is an excellent storyteller with a warm personality. Her newest book includes dozens of creative bean recipes inspired by a wide variety of cuisines: Black Bean Fauxjoada, a meatless version of the Brazilian feijoada; Tamale Pie; Maya’s Magic Black Beans with Eggplant and Royal Rice; and desserts like Sesame Seed Chickpea Flour Cookies, and Red Bean Ice Cream. The book also includes a guide to dozens of varieties of beans and directions for cooking and use. It is an excellent resource for bean fans and skeptics alike. 

The setting for this pleasant afternoon was Ducali, a pizza restaurant and bar in the North End just across from the Charlestown Bridge. We started out with an appetizer of Carciofi–  Broiled Artichoke served with homemade garlic aioli. 

Photo courtesy of Bianca

Caprino e bacca– Baby spinach with goat cheese and dried cranberries. This salad came with a towering pile of fresh spinach and a modest sprinkling of cheese and cranberries. I’m not sure if there was any dressing. While I do love a plate of unadulterated greens, in lieu of dressing, the toppings need to be a little more robust. I was far more impressed with the pizzas than our appetizers.

Spinaci– Fresh mozzarella, garlic and spinach, topped with black  pepper and Romano cheese. The fresh (not frozen) spinach was the focus of this pie. A thick layer of it lay on top of the crust. The mozzarella and romano were applied somewhat sparingly which I enjoyed. The salty romano and the sweetness of the spinach made for a nice pairing. Out of three we tasted, the crust on this pie was the best , thin with a nice chew. White pies often come piled high with cheese to make up for the lack of sauce. With this pie, the spinach added the perfect amount of moisture, allowing for a pleasantly minimal amount of cheese.

Photo courtesy of Bianca

Rugola– Mozzarella topped with arugula, drizzled with truffle oil and topped with shaved Parmiggiano Reggiano. Again, I was delighted at the plentiful pile of bright green atop this pie. The mozzarella and thin crust formed a chewy base for the crisp truffle-accented arugula. The parmesan added a wonderful richness though the pieces were a touch thick, they would more aptly be described as parmesan chunks.

Melanzane e zucchini– Grilled eggplant, mushroom, zucchini and mozzarella topped with fresh goat cheese. I expected to like this one a lot but it fell short. The eggplant was dry and chewy and I did not enjoy the seasoning on the zucchini. Thankfully, the other two pies more than made up for this.

I was not familiar with Ducali prior to this lunch and I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the pizza. A nice thin crust with flavorful cheeses and toppings. I’d recommend going for lunch as sunlight floods the restaurant during the day and offers a view of the waterfront and Charlestown in the distance. It so happened that our pizza selections ended up being all white pies. I’m curious to return again and see how the red pies stack up.

Ducali
289 Causeway St.
Boston, MA
Ducali Pizzeria & Bar on Urbanspoon

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20 Responses to Lunch with Crescent Drangonwagon at Ducali

  1. mollyparr says:

    Love Crescent Dragonwagon and am so excited for her new book. Not sure if you heard her interview on On Point last week: http://onpoint.wbur.org/2012/02/16/beans
    And Ducali is one of the few pizza shops in the North End that I’ve actually been to. It was quite delicious.
    Hope you’ll be able to share some of her new recipes on the blog. I’d dig out her soups and bread cookbook that’s on my shelf, but I’m still waiting for wintry soup weather.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I did listen to it! It was great.

  3. Daisy says:

    Funny, when I was last at Ducali with a large group, we had all white pies too (some of the ones you ate!) and I was wondering “where is the red sauce”. They definitely need more red pizza options. My favorite though is their steak and gorgonzola pizza.

  4. shannon says:

    hmm, that spinaci sounds right up my alley 🙂

  5. Even though I have only been once, I am a big fan of Ducali! I was OK with the options, although if I was a regular, I would probably want more red options as well.

  6. Megan says:

    I wish I could have come to this lunch, but I had already made other plans. I just received her new bean cookbook and am looking forward to cooking from it.

  7. Sacha says:

    I really wanted to attend the lunch but wasn’t available that day. The book is right up my alley, and I love getting the chance to talk to cookbook authors! I’m glad that most of the food was as good as the company.

  8. Pingback: Lunch with Crescent Drangonwagon at Ducali – FreeFoodBoston | Boston Brunchers

  9. The Spinachi was definitely my favorite, but I also loved the artichoke app. I think Crescent was the true highlight though, what a story teller!

  10. Ranjani says:

    This book is totally going on my wish list. I am always looking for new bean recipes

  11. This cookbook sounds great – I am just discovering all the amazing ways to eat beans. I could definitely use some pointers!

  12. Erica says:

    What an event!!! Those pizzas look amazing. Now im hungry!

  13. Joanne says:

    Apparently I desperately need BOTH of those cookbooks and a trip to this restaurant. Immediately.

  14. Meghan says:

    I was sad to miss this due to a scheduled long run! I actually ran past the restaurant and thought about stopping in to say hi 🙂

  15. I have heard great things about the cookbook and Ducali! Those white pizzas look great!

  16. Molly Galler says:

    This meal looks incredible! Wish I didn’t read this while I am waiting to head out to lunch. Can’t wait to check out Ducali. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Christy says:

    Ducali sounds like an interesting place for pizza; and I am with you on the first pizza. The spinach; the word fresh makes it sound appealing and that the romano cheese was used rather sparingly, and the thin crust. I can imagine what an awesome combination it would be. I didn’t really like the sound of the third pizza either, hehe..maybe because I am not really a fan of eggplant:p

  18. Meesh says:

    wow this looks like a good one! i’ve never heard of ducali or Crescent Drangonwagon – clearly I need to get my priorities straight haha

    is that her real name?

  19. Pingback: how long does it take to write a book? - Crescent Dragonwagon

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