Tag Archives: chicken pesto pizza

Ann Arbor Pizza Review: Pizza Pino

It’s finally warming up a bit here in MI.  I didn’t wear a scarf and sweatshirt under my full-length down-comforter-slash-sleeping-bag-slash-coat today.  But two weeks ago, this was hardly the case.  I know it’s cold elsewhere, but really I’d never experienced temperatures like this.  I woke up one morning to a bright blue, cloudless sky.  It was so sunny and beautiful, I thought maybe I’d go for a walk!  I checked the temp: -6.  NEGATIVE SIX.  Hm.  Two hours later it had gotten up to 0.  Zero degrees.  It had gotten up to zero.  No.

So when Mark asked me if I wanted to come downtown for dinner out (yay a chance to try a new restaurant) or stay in with pizza, it was a tough call, but not that tough: stay in please!

It was tempting to fall back on a pizza place we had already tried and knew we would be satisfied with, but we decided to branch out.  The place we chose was called Pizza Pino….Pizza Pino, Pizza Pino, why is this name sticking in my head?  I can just hear my dad enthusiastically shouting, “Pizza-Pino!” over and over again.  Is there a Pizza Pino we used to go to?  Long Island?  New Mexico?  I will do some research.  With that memory in mind, I had a good feeling about Ann Arbor’s Pizza Pino.

pizza pino 2

I got a thin crust (I don’t know whether it’s a good or bad sign that a lot of places here have a range of crust choices from extra thin to Chicago and deep dish – which apparently are two distinct crust types….maybe I will make a Linnaeus System of Crust Classification.  You know: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.  Although mine will be the Lowe System and have many fewer levels.  The choice is good if you don’t like a particular crust-type, but can they really do all those crust-types well?  TBD.)  ANYWAY…..I got a thin crust pesto chicken pizza (you know I love a good chicken pesto), which involved pesto (obviously), tomatoes, chicken, spinach, mushrooms (that was a new and welcome twist), and mozzarella.

pizza pino 1

My gold standard for chicken pesto pizza is obviously Bagby in Baltimore as I have discussed many times over.  I have also discovered that Pizza House here in Ann Arbor makes a good version, however I later uncovered that their extra thin crust is made on a tortilla, not an actual crust.  I don’t know how I feel about this.  On the one hand, I couldn’t tell when I first got the pizza.  On the other hand, now that I know….I guess it doesn’t matter.  Fine.

The pizza was delicious – just a little bit salty, with a stiff crust that held up the plethora of toppings.  I’m a big fan.  Whereas other “specialty” pizzas sometimes are more like flatbreads with just a sprinkle of cheese, this was a traditional pizza in the sense that it started with a good cheese pizza and added the toppings to that (although remember no tomato sauce, as this is replaced by slices of tomatoes).  I also enjoyed the fact that the tomatoes were sliced and not diced since sometimes diced tomatoes feels more like salsa in your mouth.  The sliced tomato is a more expected texture I guess.

I would definitely get this pizza again or try one of their other kinds.  Oh, and by the way, I looked up Pizza Pino, and I found one in Paris, which is where I think my Pizza Pino memory developed on vacation as a kid when all my sister and I would eat was pizza and ice cream.  Yum!

How Volunteering Led Me To Some Good Pizza

In order to start meeting new people in my new town of Ann Arbor and schedule some activities for myself, I decided to volunteer as an advisor at the University of Michigan chapter of the sorority I joined at University of Maryland in undergrad.  I emailed the chapter advisor out of the blue after finding her contact information on the chapter’s website, and we met one evening at Panera for coffee and to discuss opportunities.  She has been leading this chapter for about 14 years, has a great depth chart of other advisors, and was super enthusiastic about getting me involved right away, which was very welcoming of her.

After getting current on my alumnae dues (oops), I attended my first Monday evening chapter meeting the following week, where I met the president and some of the other advisors.  I’m going to be helping the vice president of campus activities, which is a newish position that we didn’t have when I was in school or when I was the chapter advisor at Towson University back in Maryland, so it will be a learning experience in duties and responsibilities, as well as getting to know a whole new (very large) group of collegians.

Right away I was energized to start sharing ideas and asking questions about how this chapter operates differently than the others with which I have been involved.  There are over 200 members, and the new member classes are almost as big as the entire sorority at Towson.  Clearly, things operate differently here.  For instance, whereas initiation ceremony was mandatory for all sisters at Towson, it logistically cannot be mandatory at UMich because the whole sisterhood can’t even fit in the chapter room together at one time!

I learned some interesting tidbits that first evening, both about the sorority and Ann Arbor, not least of which was that I should definitely try Pizza House.  The sisters and the advisors all agreed that Pizza House was delicious, and I was told that professors often place orders here when they are having lunch meetings for large groups.  Interesting.  Especially because their website lists their specialty as Chicago deep dish (not my fav).  Reading the menu further, I saw that they also make thin and super thin crust pizza; they also have an enormous selection of pretty much all other food you could ever want: salads, sandwiches, burgers, Italian favorites, Chipatis (which I’ve heard are just an Ann Arbor thing…a pita pocket filled with salad), wings, desserts, and on and on.

Willing to take a chance, I placed a dinner delivery order of a thin crust pepperoni pizza and a super thin crust chicken pesto pizza.  They said it would take 30 minutes, so I was shocked when 15 minutes later the doorbell rang, catching me completely off guard (also because they came to the garage door and not the front door…I’ve never known a garage door to have a doorbell before).

The pizza was delicious!! Yay!!  “Delicious” is so overused, but it really was.  The thin crust was good thin crust; like your standard pizza: not too bready on the bottom and a regular thickness to the outside crust.  Could have been a little chewier crust, like that good yeasty NYC crust, but okay, that’s just hard to find in general.

The super thin crust was excellent.  I loved the chicken pesto flavors: chunks of chicken, basil pesto sauce, red onion, diced tomato and gooey mozzarella.  Of course, you always love what you know and what you grew up with, and you’re not likely to love something new more than something old that’s held on a pedestal and to which you are comparing the new thing, but I gotta say that this measured up pretty close to my beloved Bagby chicken pesto pizza back home.  The crust was perfectly salty, not overdone or buttery, just like a nicely salted cracker.  Which isn’t to say that the crust was cracker-like, because it wasn’t that hard and crunchy.  It was soft underneath the toppings (maybe I would ask for a little less cheese next time to avoid a bit of sog….I know, I know, less cheese = blasphemy, but sog is unappealing) and crispy at the edges.  I also liked how the toppings came pretty close to the edges.

I apologize for not having a picture.  Worst blogger ever.  I get too excited about eating and then forget to take a picture until it’s all gone! Not to worry though; we will definitely order from Pizza House again, and I will be sure (to try to) remember to take a pic next time around 🙂

Next up: Pizza Bob’s.  I got a recommendation from a friend who went to grad school in AA.  Although she said she’s never had the pizza, she said the milk-free shakes and chipatis were yummy, so I’m hoping that carries over to the pizza too.

As for getting back into sorority volunteerism, I’m enthusiastic about dedicating some time to an organization that promotes women leadership, teamwork and friendship.