Category Archives: Pizza Reviews

The only thing worse than bad pizza is no pizza

New Belgium Ranger Station

Snowmass Pizza: New Belgium Ranger Station

Okay, this one isn’t your normal pizza review because it’s not your standard pizza. On our Colorado vacation back in June, we headed into Snowmass Village the fist night to grab a low-key bite at New Belgium Ranger Station. The restaurant has tons of New Belgium beers on tap (the Colorado brewery that makes Fat Tire) and a good selection of appetizers, salads and apres-ski fare.

I had a delicious and huge kale salad that I couldn’t even finish, paired with a 1554 black ale, and Mark had a freshly grilled chicken breast accompanied by a green salad. Everything was quite tasty, and it didn’t hurt that we were sitting outside by a massive fire pit, watching the sun set over the mountains, turning the clouds all shades of yellow and pink.

New Belgium Ranger Station
New Belgium Ranger Station – I like these stools that have cubbies for your things built in!

Although I was also tempted to order the make-your-own s’mores kit, I refrained and we split the pepperoni pretzel rolls instead. Yum.

pepperoni pretzel pizza sandwiches
pepperoni pretzel pizza sandwiches

Maybe just slightly too cheesy, but otherwise it hit the eating-pizza-without-actually-eating-pizza spot. The pretzel bun had that lovely chunky rock salt, and inside was melted mozzarella and pepperoni, accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce.

This would definitely make a good apres-ski snack with a beer or two!

Taster's in Snowmass

Snowmass Pizza: Taster’s

Back in June, Mark and I spent a relaxing week hiking, swimming, reading and eating in Snowmass, Aspen and Denver, Colorado. We were lucky enough to stay at The Timbers Club in Snowmass – a gorgeous property right on the side of the mountain with a friendly and accommodating staff, comfy big beds, our own grill, afternoon cookies and multiple hot tubs to choose from.

One night for dinner, we popped across the street to a tiny strip mall with an excellent gourmet grocery store and a pizza place called Taster’s. (There’s one in Aspen too I think.)

We got a carry-out cheese pizza and ate it on the couch in front of a roaring fire and a flat screen TV.

Taster's cheese pizza
Taster’s cheese pizza

We had heard mixed reviews from people who had eaten there before, and I think it lends itself to be that kind of pizza place.

Overall, it’s kind of what you would expect from a ski-town pizza place. It was warm and doughy and filling, with a good flavor and a lot of cheese. It wasn’t gourmet pizza by any stretch, and it wasn’t really even New York thin crust. It was kind of like a puffy bread with sauce and cheese and grease and spices. Quite comforting.

Would be good on a snowy afternoon when you don’t have to wear a bathing suit afterwards.

pizza The Timbers
Taster’s in Snowmass
Turnstyle The Pizza cheese pizza

NYC Pizza Review: Turnstyle

Recently, a new underground shopping mall and food court has opened in the Columbus Circle subway stop. It’s brightly lit, well decorated and has some excellent options for coffee and dining, including Starbucks, FIKA, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Doughnuttery, Pressed Juicery, Casa Toscana and many more.

There are cute handmade jewelry stands down the center aisle, and all manner of shops from a wine store to a shop that has a mishmash of random novelty gifts and home goods (like a giant gummy bear piggy bank).

Inevitably there is a pizza place down there. And it is just called: Turnstyle The Pizza, as in, there is only one pizza place down here, and this is it.

So of course we were going to get pizza from there. It was only a matter of time being that it’s literally on our commute home from work.

One night, Mark stopped and picked up a large cheese pizza for dinner.

Looking good so far in its extra large New York pizza way:

Turnstyle The Pizza cheese pizza
Turnstyle The Pizza cheese pizza

But then I went to pick up a slice:

cheese pizza from Turnstyle The Pizza
bye bye cheese

Ehhhhhh I can maybe even forgive a cheese slide, but I was overall disheartened at the way the cheese was kind of lumpy and crumbly and the sauce was particularly sweet and oversauced and the crust was particularly dry.

I mean, I ate it, duh. And maybe if you were really craving pizza, grabbing a slice down in the subway makes sense. But generally we can do better. That Italian Casa Toscana looks interesting to me, and they have gelato, so that might be the next place to try down in Turnstyle.

Has anyone else tried any of the other food down there?

artisan pizza with roasted red peppers, goat cheese and olive tapenade

Denver Pizza Review: Osteria Marco

For our last dinner in Denver before heading home after a lovely vacation out West a few weeks ago, Mark and I dined al fresco on Larimer Square at Osteria Marco.

What I loved about this restaurant was the fact that although it is casual, the food reminded me a bit of my beloved Chinghale in Baltimore. Delicately plated salumi, and fresh and delicious-looking main courses. Different in that where Chinghale has interesting housemade pastas, Osteria Marco offers pizzas and paninis. No matter. It was the feel of the place that was warm and friendly and inviting.

After our appetizer of lace-y thin finochietta (fennel pork sausage) that I inhaled, I ordered the Artisan pizza with olive tapenade, goat cheese and roasted red peppers.

artisan pizza with roasted red peppers, goat cheese and olive tapenade
artisan pizza with roasted red peppers, goat cheese and olive tapenade

Um, yum. That is all I can say. I gobbled this down too and was feeling particularly pleased with my order. The chewy crust, salty olives and sweet peppers paired well with a healthy smattering of spicy crushed red pepper and a light white wine.

So if you’re in Denver, I would highly recommend checking this place out after a Rockies baseball game.

High Mountain Pies main entrance

Pizza Review: High Mountain Pies

As the name implies, this small pizza place is located in Colorado, outside of Denver, in historic Leadville. We found it on Yelp as we were passing through, as did many of our co-diners.

High Mountain Pies is situated in a cute little bright-blue house off of Leadville’s main street. They have picnic tables in a grassy field outback as well as under shaded umbrellas on the side patio (where we ate).

High Mountain Pies main entrance
High Mountain Pies main entrance

The owners were a couple of friendly hippies (obviously) who clearly created a pizza restaurant to fulfill their pizza-craving needs. (Mark and I noted how many Colorado restaurants seem to be designed to fulfill late-night cravings: for instance, on our way through town on the front end of the trip, we ate lunch at a pizzeria/taqueria, and last time we were in Denver, we ate at a pizza/biscuit restaurant. YUMMY!)

We ordered the pizza margherita, which was fine for what it was, but not really any sort of amazing pizza by general world standards. It was more of a doughy, salty, cheesy bread with sliced tomatoes. The fresh basil was a plus.

our pizza margherita
our pizza margherita

It was good, but I’d probably steer more towards a regular cheese pizza (or find a bar-b-que restaurant) next time. A+ for setting and friendly staff.

margherita pizza

NYC Pizza Review: Masseria Dei Vini

Mark and I had a fun Memorial Day Weekend with friends from our building (and from life, since I’ve known her since we were five): eating pizza, seeing a Broadway musical and getting midnight gelato.

We had dinner at an unsuspecting Italian restaurant on 9th Avenue: Masseria Dei Vini. You would never know from a street full of hole-in-the-wall quick-bite eateries that a large, bright, white-washed upscale Italian restaurant lies behind huge glass windows.

Complete with white tablecloths, mannered waitstaff and a restaurant-length (and height) wall of temperature-controlled, beautifully lit wine bottles, Masseria Dei Vini felt luxurious in an off-beat part of town. Like we had been transported away from anything grungy….maybe to the suburbs even?

 

Mark and I split a pasta as a our appetizer (even split it was a lot of food), and then I had the Margherita pizza as my main, of course.

magherita pizza
margherita pizza

The pizza was excellent and actually fairly large. I ate the whole thing. But I probably could’ve taken half home and still been full!

The crust was a puffy and charred. There was a perfect ratio of sauce to cheese (not too much sauce) and lots of basil leaves. I ate it with a knife and fork, but you definitely could’ve eaten it with hands too, which is to say, it wasn’t too soggy in the middle.

I would definitely return, although next time I would probably split the pizza, or force myself to stop eating and take the rest home!

Killer Bee pizza from B Side

NYC Pizza Review: B Side

I pass by B Side in Hell’s Kitchen at least once a week on my way to yoga. I knew it was a pizza place but the name didn’t inspire anything in me, so it wasn’t truly on my radar until a friend’s Italian boyfriend said it was one of his favorite pizza places in the neighborhood. Well now…

B Side is owned by a Hell’s Kitchen restaurant group that includes Vynl (the name B Side making more sense, as it is tucked around the corner from Vynl which is on 9th Ave and serves comfort food), El Centro (Mexican), Hell’s Kitchen (modern Mexican) and B Squared (another outpost of B Side farther down 9th Ave).

Mark and I went for dinner one evening and sat at the bar. I love the neighborhood feel of this place. It’s tiny, with mostly high top tables and a wrap around bar that provides a lot of seating. The front garage windows were thrown open this evening, and there is more bar seating along with window ledge. The decor is sleek wood with bright modern light fixtures shaped like star bursts along the wall.

We split the Marge (traditional cheese pizza) and the Killer Bee with sopressata, honey and chili oil.

Killer Bee pizza from B Side
Killer Bee pizza

Both pizzas were great! Chewy bubbly crust and not too soggy in the middle like some Neapolitan pizzas can be (I know, I know, they’re supposed to be like that).

I think my preference was for the Marge, just because the Killer Bee had a lot going on with it, and I didn’t love the sweet honey on this one as much as on other honey pizzas I’ve tried.

Also, the wine list is short and to the point, but includes some solid glasses. I had a light dry rose that was perfect for the early spring evening and the fresh hot pizza.

And they do carry-out. All wins!

Houston Pizza (Bagel) Review

Doesn’t a good pizza bagel just make your day?!?! It’s warm and gooey with a chewy, salty, dense bagel underneath! What’s not to love?!

Side note: I always choose a salt or everything bagel for my pizza bagels, but my sister says this is “gross” and that one should only get a pizza bagel on a plain bagel. You decide.

Did you know that originally bagels came in only plain or salt? Then they started branching out into all sorts of other flavors in the 1950s. And with the rise of Lender’s – prepackaged and frozen bagels – so too more flavors and more diverse consumers across America, for instance, the cinnamon raisin bagel, which was created to appeal to the non-Jewish “breakfast food” market.

I just got done reading Maria Balinska’s The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread which is a fascinating look at the creation and rise in popularity of the bagel. Bagels have a fuzzy origin story, in that many ethnicities and countries have similarly shaped bread products so it’s hard to pinpoint one beginning point for the bread with a hole phenomenon. But it’s also a food whose history is intertwined with stories of political, economic and labor battles. The book is a quick read for anyone interested in food history and/or Jewish food history.

But anyway, back to the pizza bagel at hand. This particular pizza bagel was procured at New York Coffee Shop, a crowded Jewish bagel and coffee joint in the Braeburn neighborhood of Houston Texas.

“Decorated” in the 1980s, walking in reminded me of the formica counter top diners we would go to as children, perhaps after Hebrew school on Sunday for a matzah ball soup and pickles.

My mom did indeed have the matzah ball soup which looked traditionally delicious. And I of course had the pizza bagel, on an everything bagel, with a cup of coffee.

pizza bagel

It was all really good. The coffee was above average and totally came in above expectation. They definitely knew how to do a good pizza bagel with toasted bagel, fully melted cheese and not too much sauce.

Personally, I don’t see how one could mess up a pizza bagel, but you’d be surprised.

If I had it to do over, I’d choose a salt bagel just to kick things up a notch.

And the personality of the place was charming and nostalgic too. Would I want to lick the table? No. Did we run into people our in-laws knew from the community? Yes. And isn’t that really what these old-school Jewish diners are all about in the end? Thumbs up.

make-your-own veggie pizza

Houston Pizza Review: BLAZE

My mom and I visited my sister in Houston a few weeks ago and took a lunchtime trip to Blaze Pizza on Westheimer. Blaze is a fast-casual pizza chain, where you stand in line and either choose a standard personal pizza from their menu or do a create-your-own pizza from a smorgasbord of ingredients, Chipotle style. The staff assembles the pie and then rapidly cooks it in their huge wood-fired oven and calls your name when it’s ready to get at the counter.

There was a Blaze in Royal Oak when we were living in Michigan that I always wanted to try but never got around to it, so I was happy to go there in Texas!

I ordered the off-the-menu Red Vine pizza which is red sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, and I also added shredded mozzarella to it.

red vine pizza with extra mozzarella
red vine pizza with extra mozzarella

My sister did a make-your-own with lots of veggies including mushrooms and arugula.

make-your-own veggie pizza
make-your-own veggie pizza

Both pizzas were delicious and we devoured them both. The ingredients were fresh and flavorful and the crust was pretty good – not dry or cardboard-like, which can often be the case.

The only issue I had (which is unfortunately pretty standard these days at this kind of restaurant) was that I was SUPER parched afterwards. Even after drinking lots of water, I could still feel the effects of the saltiness from the pizza.  They were yummy going down though 🙂

The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable about the ingredients and food prep. My mom has a lot of dietary restrictions, and they were incredibly helpful directing her in terms of what she could or couldn’t eat. For instance, they don’t use cornmeal on the bottom of the pizza to prevent sticking; they use semolina, which she can eat. They also swapped out her Italian salad dressing for oil and vinegar and made her salad fresh, instead of directing her to the case of pre-made salads, to ensure no cross-contamination with items she can’t digest. I thought the customer service was excellent, especially for a fast-casual establishment whose business model is based on volume, standardization and quick turnaround.

In terms of fast-casual chain pizza, I would definitely rank Blaze near the top.

Blaze
Blaze

 

meatball pizza (top) and spinach pizza (bottom) at Co. in Chelsea

Co. (NYC Pizza Review in Chelsea)

I have read so many great reviews of Co. (short for Company), a wood-fired pizza restaurant in Chelsea – from Food & Wine magazine top pizza lists, to Eater must-eats, that I was incredibly excited when a group of friends decided to dine there Friday night.

The chef, Jim Lahey, is a James Beard Award-winning baker, and Co. was founded by Lahey in conjunction with Jean-Georges Vongerichten, one of my all-time favorite chefs. All the more reason to get pumped for pizza!

First of all, I didn’t have a hand in making the reservation, but my friend who did said that they were SUPER accommodating and helpful. When planning a sit-down dinner for 15 or more, working with a restaurant that gets that there will be changes is key. She probably went back and forth with them on the number of people and menu details three or four times, literally right up until 5 minutes before we were served!

We had a prix fixe for $35/person (not including tip, tax, beverages) that consisted of appetizers, pizza and dessert served family-style, which was incredibly reasonable for the amount of DELICIOUS food we consumed.

For apps there were: olive oil flatbread with whipped ricotta, olives, roasted beets, caesar salad, bruschetta with beans and eggplant.

Group favorites: caesar salad, flatbread

For pizzas, we chose 5 varieties, although we ate many more than just 5 pies: margherita, meatball, prosciutto, sausage and mushroom, spinach and pecorino.

meatball pizza (top) and spinach pizza (bottom) at Co. in Chelsea
meatball pizza (top) and spinach pizza (bottom) at Co. in Chelsea

Group favorites: margherita, sausage and mushroom

For dessert, a fudge-like chocolate cake with powerful vanilla bean ice cream. I may have eaten two people’s portions 😀

OMG delicious all around. Wonderful customer service and well-priced. I will have to see if we are on their delivery route.