Boca’s charming new “Artisanal French Pizza Bar” redefines Pizza.
Could this be the best Pizza in town???
If there’s one thing we have plenty of around here, it’s Pizza. You’re never more than a block or two away from some kind of ‘za — be it national franchise, area chain, or neighborhood mom ‘n pop. You name it, we got it: Thick crust or thin; Old-school basic to trendy gourmet; Gas or electric oven, coal-fired or wood-burning. Plus of course the endless array of delivery options, frozen products, pre-assembled take & bake pies, and more. With so much pizza around, it’s a rare treat indeed to find a unique pizza that truly stands out — something Slice of Provence in Boca Raton.
The innovative new “French Pizza Bar” is the lovechild of chef/owner Cecile Giraud. Cecile grew up in the Provence region of France, where she spent much of her youth with her grandmother in their French countryside garden. Even then, young Cecile began to appreciate the natural beauty, aromatic fragrances, and abundant flavors of their homegrown produce and the local herbs & spices — and the loving magic her grandma could create out of these simple ingredients. (If you’ve ever tended your own veggie garden – or perhaps if you’ve seen the recent movie The 100 Foot Journey, you can probably relate). Fast forward a few decades, as Cecile and her husband Steve moved to south Florida, and opened Slice of Provence in the heart of Downtown Boca Raton. The result is the first, and really the only pizza bar of its kind — anywhere.
So, what makes a pizza “French”? The answer is complex, yet simple – it’s: (1) the dough; (2) the cheese; (3) the sauce; and (4) the toppings. It all starts with the dough, made in-house with extra fine flour and hand-stretched to order. Now comes the French part: The dough is enhanced with a hit of truffle oil and lavender honey. The exotic additions lend subtle fragrance and depth of flavor, and also enhance the caramelization process, producing a beautifully bronzed crust. The result is a distinctively flavorful, perfectly crispy-chewy-delicate pizza crust unlike any other. I could practically make a meal out of this crust alone, especially with a glass of the French wines specially selected to match the fare. (And with all wines are priced under $10, make that two glasses!).
Now, the sauce: There isn’t any! You won’t find the usual generic “pizza” sauce here. Instead, Cecile and Steve rely on fresh ingredients such as fresh cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, truffle oil, or EVOO. This makes for a lighter, fresher, and tastier pizza which allows the magic of the flavorful toppings to shine through.
Then comes the crucial part – the Cheese. Instead of using the standard mozzarella or provolone, Slice of Provence incorporates authentic Cantal cheese, imported straight from Cantal, France. Although relatively unknown in the States, Cantal is one of the oldest and most popular cheeses in France (Louis XIV was a big fan). The semi-hard cow’s milk cheese has a sweet-tangy, almost buttery flavor, somewhat reminiscent of Cheddar. Cantal is not traditionally used on pizza (not even in France), but as Cecile notes, “with its distinctive, complex flavor, fragrant aroma and unique texture, I knew this would be the cheese worthy our pizza.” It’s yet another aspect that makes Slice of Provence the most unique (and you might agree, the best!) pizza you’ll ever try.
But what makes Slice of Provence really stand out is the toppings. Unlike any other pizza joints, there’s no standard laundry list of generic toppings. That’s because Cecile and Steve spent years developing and refining the menu, artfully combining fresh, natural, and artisanal ingredients into carefully crafted signature specialties, that will make you re-think your pizza philosophy. Take, for instance, the Aubergine, starring roasted eggplant, sundried tomatoes, fresh cherry tomatoes, roasted red peppers, black olive tapenade, tangy goat cheese, and Cantal cheese. A final flourish of sea salt flakes and micro greens adds the perfect finishing notes to an already-perfect creation.
Mushroom fans (like me) will go ga-ga for the Forestiere, a trifecta of sautéed wild mushrooms (Shiitake, Crimini, and Maitake!), along with ricotta cheese, white truffle oil, sea salt flakes, micro greens, and of course, the sacred Cantal. We also loved the Pistou, with homemade basil pesto, sautéed Portobellos, pine nuts, Cantal cheese, and cherry tomatoes; and the Bayonne, comprised of prosciutto, baby arugula, shaved Cantal, EVOO, and a fig balsamic glaze.
On the meatier side, the Provencale combines imported French sausage with caramelized onions, nicoise olives, roasted red peppers and zucchini, sundried and cherry tomatoes, and Cantal. Meanwhile, the Normande is like a French picnic on a pizza, with ham, asparagus, crimini mushrooms, white truffle oil, Cantal, and a touch of Béchamel sauce. Other specialties range from the Croisette (with smoked salmon, mascarpone, and caviar), to the Nicoise (nicoise olives and anchovies), and Slice of Provence’s own take on the Margarita and Four Cheese pizza.
Several nice Salads and Desserts (try the homemade Passion Fruit Mouse or Mango Sorbet!) round out the menu. The small dining room is comfy and casual; or enjoy a tranquil al fresco experience on the outdoor terrace, while the relaxing French background music slowly lulls you to somewhere in the French Alps . . . .
Slice of Provence is located at 205 SE 1st Avenue (adjacent to Royal Palm Place, near Fourth Generation Market). Open weekdays for lunch and every night for dinner (with plans to soon open for Sunday Brunch). Catering and private events available.
Call (561) 409-4821 or visit www.SliceofProvence.com.
Facebook at: Slice of Provence
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