I really like holidays for being markers of the season, though I have to admit that Valentine's Day has never been one that I've much cared for. Sure, it's nice to show your loved one that you care, but I'm not too keen on fighting for a dinner reservation just to say "I love you." So because Matt was flying out last weekend on Valentine's Day, I was just as pleased to dine out the Saturday before and call it a date. As we're in the process of booking a spring trip to Tuscany, we've had Italian food on our minds and decided to try Il Pomodoro over in the Wilhelmsplatz.
We've had a kind of funny history with Il Pomodoro. Matt first went there about four years ago when he flew to Stuttgart to interview. I remember him telling me on the phone at the end of the day that he'd had great pizza for dinner, though he'd accidentally ordered the "Mediterranean" pizza and not a pizza "Margherita" as he'd intended. When his pizza came out covered in shrimp, mussels, and octopus, his future boss raised an eyebrow and asked if my husband liked octopus. My husband, having been a rather conservative eater up until this point but not wanting to cause a fuss by correcting his order, replied, "I do now." And he has ever since.
In fact, he liked the pizza so much that soon after we moved to Stuttgart he tried to take me there to show me how good the pizza was. Unfortunately, he couldn't remember the location of the Il Pomodoro that his now coworkers taken him to. We ended up dining at another Il Pomodoro out by Marienplatz. The pizza there was good, but not as good as he remembered.
Luckily, we found the right Il Pomodoro on one of our many walks around the city. And so with the correct location in my head, I called to make a reservation a little less than a week in advance. It's a good thing I made one: the restaurant was packed when we arrived, and we had to squeeze past people waiting for a table to get to our small table for two pressed again the bar by a corner. All around us were groups and couples drinking, laughing, and having a good time. The overall effect was a cozy one, to the extent that we envied the couple that had been seated at a table under the curving staircase that led up to the second floor landing.
We were quickly approached by a waitress with menus who took an immediate liking to Leo. She brought us a bowl of water for him, and even returned to the table with one of her colleagues to show him to her. Of course, she took our drink order, too: a beer for Matt and a carafe of chianti for me.
She gave us time to look over the menu while we nibbled on a basket of pizza bread bites hot from the oven. Despite them, I was getting hungrier by the minute as I read through their list of appetizers, pizzas, pastas, fish, and meat dishes and smelled the enticing aroma of piping hot pizzas waft past our table. I was tempted to order the infamous pizza with seafood that Matt had first tried, but I decided instead to order a seasonal seafood appetizer so that I could enjoy some gnocchi for my main.
I expected my appetizer, the Antipasto di mare, to be a small bowl or plate with pieces of cold seafood. And though it was partially that, the dish also contained delicate slices of salmon, octopus, and shrimp carpaccio. Ironically, it seems I, too, found a new way of enjoying octopus at the very same restaurant. Apart from the salmon, I'd never had octopus or shrimp pressed into carpaccio like that. I found the taste subtle and the new texture appealing. The slightly hot marinated pepperoni and salty sardine pairing in the other corner of the plate was also particularly tasty.
I was most excited, however, by my Trüffel-Gnocchi. The large, hand-cut gnocchi were clearly homemade and stuffed with some kind of mushroom filling. The best was the rich and creamy sauce with an almost gravy like consistency with little bits of black truffle throughout. To be honest, I was a bit worried when I first saw the dish that I wouldn't be full as it wasn't an overflowing bowl of pasta, but I soon found myself struggling to finish such a filling dish. Luckily, Matt was willing to help out a little.
On the other side of the table, Matt had ordered the Pizza il Pomodoro with mushrooms, capers, olives, onions, and cherry tomatoes. The fresh toppings, especially the large capers, were delicious, but even more so was the wood-fired crust that was crispy on the edges and that gradually became softer in the center under the weight of the toppings and the cheese. I snapped a photo just so I could capture that beautiful cheese, soft and stringy as my husband lifted each slice. I know some people like their pizza crust to hold up, but not me. In fact, the ooey gooey cheesiness of it reminded me of my favorite pizza parlor in upstate New York that I frequented when I was in college.
I don't usually order dessert in restaurants anymore and I was beyond my full point, however, I'd already told Matt that if their Tiramisu turned out to be homemade, that I'd have to order it. Indeed, the tiramisu was homemade, and I'm so glad that I ordered it. The whipped marzipan, coffee liqueur, and lady's fingers were in perfect proportion. I also noticed that the marzipan layer tasted very buttery, like my grandmother's whipped buttercream frosting, which I loved!
After such a delicious meal, I can see why Il Pomodoro is so popular with locals. Their pizza is easily some of the best that I've had in Stuttgart, and the quality of their food is top notch for being so affordable (we paid less than 50€ for an appetizer, two entrées, dessert, and drinks). The service was also extremely friendly and attentive. While our meal at Il Pomodoro has made me excited for our future trip to Tuscany, I'm just as excited to go back to Il Pomodoro for another date night when my next craving for Italian food strikes.
Il Pomodoro is located at Wihelmsplatz 4 in the Leonhardsviertel, one of the oldest parts of Stuttgart with winding cobblestone streets and also Stuttgart's rather tame "Red Light District". If you go on a weekend, it's worth staying out a bit late for an after-dinner drink at one of the area's many hip bars. The square is particularly nice in the summertime when all the patio seating opens up, including Il Pomodoro's.
To get to the Wihelmsplatz, you can either take the U1, U2, or U4 to the Rathaus and walk south-west about two blocks, or take the U14 to Österreichischer Platz and walk two blocks in the opposite direction. You can't miss Il Pomodoro on the northern side of the square. The restaurant is open Monday through Friday for lunch from 11:30 to 15:00 and for dinner Monday through Saturday from 17:00 to 24:00. They are closed on Sundays.