Tag Archives: pizza review

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!

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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?

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!

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.

half pepperoni half mushroom pizza with large slabs of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese

NYC Pizza Review: Bella Vita Again

Bella Vita has become our go-to New York style thin crust pizza spot. It’s got that chewy-soft foldable crust and enough grease but not to the point of dripping out the back of the fold onto the plate.

And yes, I reviewed it here once before. But something disappointing happened this week that makes me need to review it again.

We ordered delivery per the usual: one cheese pizza and one half pep/half mush.

But when it came, they weren’t regular cheese pizzas. Instead of standard shredded mozzarella, it was melted fresh buffalo mozzarella. Hmmmmm.

half pepperoni half mushroom pizza with large slabs of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese
half pepperoni half mushroom pizza with large slabs of fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese

Looking back, we didn’t order anything differently than we had in the past.

But look at this pizza from last time!! Totally different cheese:

Bella Vita cheese pizza
Bella Vita cheese pizza

It still tasted great. And if I had EXPECTED this, then it would’ve been fine. But since I was NOT expecting the difference in cheese, I was a little sad and mad.

Overreaction? Maybe. Okay, fine. Definitely. But I’m still scratching my head on this.

I guess next time, I’ll know to expect the unexpected.

Oh, and I mean, it’s not like there were any leftovers. 😉

burrata with leeks and chilies

NYC Pizza Review: Louie and Chan

Don’t worry! I haven’t stopped eating NYC pizza, I’ve just forgotten to write about it recently. But I’m back. And here we go.

Louie and Chan is a cool seasonally-inspired restaurant in Chinatown. And while the menu isn’t Chinese, there are Asian influences throughout the heavily Italian-flavored menu.

The decor was dark and cozy with a definite au current speakeasy-ish vibe in the deep red walls, dark wooden bar, vintage blown glass diner lighting and long banquettes. Apparently there is a DJed lounge beneath, serving up Chinese-inspired cocktails, but we unfortunately did not venture down below.

What was unexpected was that the menu headings were listed in Italian (i.e. Le Paste) and that wood-fired pizzas were heavily featured. Needless to say, I was delighted.

Also because, burrata. Have we discussed my obsession with trying allllll the burratas. I somehow cannot pass it up when offered. Which is pretty much always these days.

For those that don’t know, burrata is a non-aged Italian cheese, generally with a tougher mozzarella-type exterior and a softer ricotta-like interior. It’s pretty much a less-dense ball of mozzarella. Healthy. It is delightful when served with large salt crystals, which is de rigueur.

The cheese was delish, however the slab of sourdough it was served upon was a little tooooo slab-ish. Which is to say rather large and overwhelming to slice.

burrata with leeks and chilies
burrata with leeks and chilies

The pizza we had for the table was the Bacio del Diavola which they are known for: a classic Neapolitan wood-fired crust preparation, topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, chilies, ‘nduja (a spicy salami) and honey.

pizza at Louie and Chan
pizza at Louie and Chan

It was divine. Spicy pork and chilies next to the cool cheese and sweet honey. Yes. I would go back for this. And this time I wouldn’t share it.

Pizza. Yum.

Ann Arbor Pizza Review: Anthony’s Gourmet Pizza

Sunday seems to be our go-to pizza night.  I’m especially fond of a super thin crust specialty pizza, a glass of wine and The Amazing Race.  But even when The Amazing Race isn’t in season, like now, pizza is still always a viable Sunday night option (or Thursday night…or really any night, but particularly Sundays and Thursdays).

Coming home after a long drive from “Up North” the last thing we wanted to do was get in the car again to go pick up food, so we took the opportunity to try another Ann Arbor pizza spot.  This time, we went for Anthony’s Gourmet Pizza.  It had some good Yelp reviews, so I guess it was about time for us to try it.

Going into the order, we knew that deep dish was their thing.  Not all the Yelp reviews were specific as to what was ordered, but generally good reviews could span all dishes (one would hope unless otherwise noted by said reviewer).

They do have all sorts of crusts.  And by all sorts, I mean one “New York style” and a million thick crust styles.  Again, I was unaware that 1. Chicago style stuffed pizza, 2. Deep Dish, 3. Sicilian Deep Dish, 4. “Round pizza” (which says is “traditional” but sure looked thick to me on their website) were all different.  I’m pretty sure I thought those were all the same.

I just wanted a normal cheese pizza so I got the New York style.  Mark wanted to try a pan pizza (is that an even different style? I will have to investigate, but for now I’m using that as a synonym), so he ordered a Chicago style.  The guy taking the order asked if this was our first time ordering from them, and when Mark said “Yes,” he said, “I thought so” and encouraged us to scrap the Chicago style in favor of the Deep Dish which is their “signature dish” (pun intended).

I’m typically not a fan of deep dish pizza, and I completely concur with Jon Stewart’s assessment that “it’s not pizza…it’s a…casserole.”  And I was highly amused by the comparison of deep dish pizza to “tomato soup in a bread bowl.”  But the guy at Anthony’s was correct in suggesting we try their signature pizza.

anthonys4 anthonys5

While it did indeed have a crust as thick as a two-by-four, the pizza was flavorful and satisfying.  Two tiny pieces were plenty.  It was definitely greasy, and you absolutely had to eat it with a knife and fork like a quiche or something, but I would eat it again if I had guests over who preferred deep dish.  The crust was meh, but that’s probably just because I don’t like how there was so much of it.  The texture was kind of like focaccia bread and I actually really would have enjoyed it with rosemary and sea salt.  Maybe they should offer that as an option!

So on to the thin crust.  Here was the real disaster: greasy, yet somehow dry at the same time, with zero flavor.  Zero.  It’s been days – DAYS – and there is still 75% of a pizza sitting in the fridge.  That’s unheard of.  It looked delicious from afar, but upon closer inspection, it kind of looked like the pizza you would get at the snack stand at the pool (i.e. literal cardboard crust)…although that pizza is kind of delicious after a long day of swimming.

anthonys2 anthonys3

 

anthonys6

I guess the thin crust is really and truly NOT their signature dish.  Lesson learned: always trust that restaurants know what they do best and just order that.

Should we have been tipped off by the fact that the boxes were plain white?  What pizza delivery place has plain white boxes?  Weird.

anthonys1

Verdict: good at what they say they’re good at, just not my jam.

Ann Arbor Pizza Review: Domino’s

Am I really writing a pizza review about Domino’s?  Well yes, yes I am.  Did you know that Domino’s is headquartered in Ann Arbor and the first store was down the road in Ypsilanti?  Now it makes more sense.

I hadn’t had Domino’s in a few years but always enjoyed their thin and crispy crust while in college, so when fellow Ann Arbor food blogger The Food and Wine Hedonist told me that it was probably his family’s favorite pizza, I figured I should give it another try.

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Last week I ordered a thin and crispy with banana peppers and a “Brooklyn-style” with pepperoni.  Both were pretty good, but I definitely enjoyed the Brooklyn-style crust more.  This more “traditional” NY crust was introduced by Domino’s in 2006, and they tout it as “large and foldable.”  Obviously this speaks to me.

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The thin and crispy was good too, but I did find the super smooth crust bottom a bit disconcerting….a slick bread product doesn’t seem like the correct texture for pizza.  Maybe if they had roughed up the bottom somehow.

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As I had been told, one of the best parts of the Domino’s experience is their online ordering feature.  It was a super simple process of customization and couponing, and once you’ve hit submit, a cartoon pizza maker rings the cash register and starts prepping your pizza.  A real-time index shows you where in the pizza-making process your pie is, and it tells you the name of the person doing the work.  For instance: “Jim is now putting your pizza in the oven.”  “Your pizza is now cooking.”  “Tom is now in the car delivering your pizza.”  And then the doorbell rings.  It’s Tom with our pizza!  Fantastic!  It’s all a bit cheesy (no pun intended) but fun and makes the time fly by as you check in to see pizza-status updates.

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All in all, I quite enjoyed my hometown Domino’s experience and would definitely get the Brooklyn-style crust again.

DC Pizza Review: Avocado Cafe

DC Pizza Review: Avocado Cafe

People familiar with DC have probably had one or more experiences with Jumbo Slice: the bigger-than-yo’-face, never-eaten-it-before-2am pizza sold by the slice. It is delicious. Or at least in the moment it is the best thing you’ve ever tasted. I don’t know how it tastes during daylight hours, nor how they make the slices so large – they must cook each slice individually because otherwise that would amount to a 3 to 4 foot pizza pie! Maybe they have crazy big ovens.

Well, anyway, aside from Jumbo Slice, I really don’t have a feel for the DC pizza scene.

A few weeks ago, however, I was in our Nation’s Capital for a friend’s baby shower, which was really just an excuse for an excellent cocktail party. As the evening was winding down, pizza was ordered. Obviously I was ecstatic.

The delivery came from Avocado Cafe in Georgetown. The New York style pizza was a welcome change from the cardboardish crusts I’ve been experiencing in the Midwest. This had a wonderfully foldable chewy crust – yay! Gooey cheese (but not too overwhelming) and pepperoni that were cooked to crisp edges but still flexible (and allowed for those little oil pools to form in the middle).

Was it the best pizza I’ve ever had? No. Was it SUPER greasy? Yes….but it’s the grease that makes it good! I really don’t mind when oil drips out onto your hand from the back of the fold…that’s what a preemptive napkin blot is for. Get over it. Did it hit the spot? Absolutely: a little bit salty, a little bit tomato-y, a lot yummy.

Verdict: I would try it again in the daylight hours. The Yelp reviews of the restaurant were a mixed bag, but a lot of them were down on the service and eat-in atmosphere, so I can look past those. Looking at this picture again, I’m wanting to hunt down a good by-the-slice for lunch!