Blame Wolfgang Puck.
It was Puck who in the eighties changed the notion of what a pizza could be, getting creative and moving beyond the basic trinity toppings – sausage, pepperoni and mushroom – and heavy sauce and cheese.
Perhaps you can’t draw a straight line from Spago to Perla’s Pizza but a connection could definitely be argued. How else would you explain a pizza with bananas on it?
Perla’s is the project of Mike Collantes of Taglish, the Filipino-American food stall inside the Lotte Market on West Colonial Drive. Perla’s, in the Mills 50 district in an almost-shared space with the Thirsty Topher, does just pizzas (and one salad), offering a small collection of curated pies, most of them more mundane than the one called It’s Bananas.
That isn’t exactly the phrase I uttered when I first heard that Perla’s would offer a pizza with bananas. At the time I speculated that Collantes was just trying to tick off people who thought pineapple on a pizza was sacrilege. To that point, Perla’s also offers a selection called Everybody Hates Pineapple.
I include myself with everybody on that notion, even though Perla’s use of pineapple jam paired with pickled jalapenos sounded a tad intriguing. Just a tad.
But I really couldn’t ignore the bananas staring at me from the menu.
And the truth is, the banana pizza wasn’t bad, thanks mainly to an ample amount of pepperoni and Calabrese peppers. But the fruit didn’t really add anything to the experience, other than a mushed texture and the bragging rights to claim having once eaten a pizza with bananas on it.
I’m much more of a Gabagool kind of guy. That’s the selection with crumbled Italian sausage and bits of bacon interspersed with pepperoni. Some pickled red onions were scattered atop.
Both pizzas featured a thin, crispy crust – not crackerlike but not far off. Red sauce was ladled on appropriately scantly, and the cheeses – mozzarella, buffalo and pecorino – were also at a minimum. The edges had a nice singed quality.
I ordered my pizzas in person instead of availing of the online ordering form. The young woman who took my order said it would be ready in five to 10 minutes, so I just took a seat in the small dining area. If I’d known it would be closer to 20 before it came out I would have slipped next door to the Thirsty Topher for a beer while I waited.
They have a blueberry cobbler-flavored beer that sounds, um, interesting.
Perla’s Pizza is at 603 Virginia Drive, Orlando (map). It is open for lunch and dinner daily. The phone number is 407-745-4483.