#90 Pizza Man

May 24th, 2016

Milwaukee, WI

After lunch in Minneapolis, we hopped in the car again for the 5 1/2 hour drive over to Wisconsin. We only had to make one stop on the way into Wisconsin – for cheese, of course! We pulled in to town just in time for dinner.

The first stop on our pizza list in Milwaukee was Pizza Man. We were still a little full from the great pizzas at Pizzeria Lola, so we were glad to see that these were thin crust pies. We ended up splitting the Avantgardener pizza, which was topped with eggplant, ricotta, and peppers, and also a brussels sprouts salad.

If we lived in Milwaukee, this would be on our most-visited restaurant list. The pizza is good, but we’d also go for the wine list and to sit outside on the second floor deck. We obviously didn’t go to the pre-2010 location that was destroyed in a fire, but we love what they’ve done with the new restaurant since they re-opened in 2013. Especially the giant wine bottle chandelier that we wish we could recreate in our house.

This thin crust-style pizza is called “Milwaukee-style”, unsurprisingly. Over here on the East coast, we rarely see pizzas cut into squares like this. In the Midwest, this is really a thing.

We are both history dorks (although me more so than Eric), so of course I needed to look up why and how this cracker-thin crust started. As it turns out, pizza first came to Milwaukee in 1945, at a restaurant called the Caradaro Club. The two owners decided to combine the round, Neapolitan style and the square, Sicilian style, and this is what they came up with. It is easier to eat while drinking beers than slices, and so this style of cutting is also known as a “tavern cut”. You can read more about this here, if you are interested.

Milwaukee-style pizza also typically has a sweet sauce that is spread just so that it covers the crust. It is usually, but not always, topped with shredded mozzarella cheese. It was a little surprising how many pizzas were cheese-less, considering Wisconsin is known as the Dairy State. The crust reminded us a little bit of Pi Pizzeria in St. Louis, or Tappo Thin Crust in NYC, although neither of those is cut “tavern style”. The thin crust was really appreciated by our waistlines, because this was pizza #5 in three days (and there was plenty more to come).

We followed up our pizza dinner with a quick tour of some of Milwaukee’s breweries. We really wanted to try this beer, but after a bit of Google searching, we realized that the brewery was closed. We went to Lakefront Brewery, though, and also found ourselves in the Sugar Maple bar, which had an excellent selection of beers on tap.

 

To visit:

Pizza Man
2597 N Downer Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211

#81 Pi Pizza

May 22nd, 2016

St. Louis, MO

It was easy for us to drive around the Northeast to try the pizzas on the Daily Meal list. We took the opportunity to fly to the West Coast to visit friends, and drove down to Florida to visit Eric’s brother. So, that just left the Midwest. And there were A LOT of pizza places in the Midwest. There were a couple of problems here:

  1. We didn’t have money to fly every weekend to a different city in the Midwest.
  2. Doing this would have taken too much time and too many weekends.
  3. We don’t know anyone who lives in these cities.

So, our solution? We planned an epic pizza cross-country road trip. We decided to hit all of the major cities in the Midwest that had pizza places on the list, most for only a night or so. It was going to be a lot of driving. It was going to be A LOT of pizza. It was going to be awesome.

We left from NJ on a Friday night and drove out to stay in Pittsburgh overnight with friends before we made it to the first city on our pizza list, St. Louis.

We got to St. Louis late in the evening. It was about 9 hours from Pittsburgh, and we had to make a few stops along the way. We made it to town in time for a late dinner, which we had at Pizzeoli. This place wasn’t on the list, but they follow our Instagram and their pizzas always looked really good. It didn’t disappoint – they serve good Neapolitan pies!

We checked in to our hotel for the evening and then woke up bright and early to check out the city. We walked to the Arch, went to the original Panera for coffee, and then made our first pizza stop from the list at Pi Pizza. There are a few locations of Pi around the city, but we had tickets to the Cardinals game at 1 pm, so we stopped at the location right downtown.

Pi has a nice selection of pizzas, both thin crust and deep dish. We figured that we’d be eating enough deep dish when we stopped in Chicago, so we went with the traditional thin crust here. The pizza that sounded really interesting to us was the Lincoln Park. This one had mozz, zucchini, tomato, and feta. We’d never had feta on a pizza. We loved the thin crust and were pleasantly surprised how much we liked the feta on the pizza. It was the perfect light lunch before the baseball game.

We made it over to the stadium for the start of the game. Unfortunately, the Cards were losing. It was not a good day for them. Around the 6th or 7th inning, we had had enough of the game and the sun, and Eric had a *brilliant* idea. You’ll have to wait until our next post to hear all about it 🙂

 

St. Louis was a great place to start our road trip. We really liked the two pizzas we tried here. On a side note, the pizzeolis at Pizzeoli have a new place they just opened in St. Louis that is serving New York-style slices, Pizza Head. It looks awesome, and if we ever find ourselves back in St. Louis we will definitely be stopping there.

Also, fun fact: Pi Pizza is supposedly one of Obama’s favorites. You have good taste, Obama.

To visit:

Pi Pizza
610 Washington Ave
St. Louis, MO 63101

#46 Serious Pie

April 23, 2016

Seattle, Washington

Right after our LA trip, we booked another trip out west to Seattle and Portland to visit some friends.  We had a long weekend in Seattle and we spent most of the weekend exploring the market and the waterfront and eating plenty of donuts. We didn’t go visit the Space Needle or the original Starbucks, but we did see fish being thrown and ate plenty of seafood on the docks. There was only one pizza place on the list in Seattle, Serious Pie, so we went with our friends for dinner after one of our days exploring.

We were a group of four, and if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that we usually need to order about one pizza per person. However, we had spent most of the day eating, so we only ordered three different pies here. It was a good choice.

We ended up trying a regular Margherita, with buffalo mozzarella, tomato sauce, and fresh basil, a sausage pie with roasted peppers and provolone, and a potato pizza seasoned with rosemary and topped with pecorino romano cheese.

Side note: Serious Pie also has biscuits at one of their locations! We did not try them, but I get the feeling that they are almost as famous for the biscuits as they are for the pizza. They look pretty awesome.

 

Overall, we liked these pizzas a lot. They are apple-wood fired in a stone oven, which means that the crust is nicely charred. The crust was also very airy and light, which was good considering all of the donuts we had eaten earlier in the day. The cheeses and meats were fresh and there were some really interesting flavor combinations on the menu. We really liked the ratio of sauce:cheese on the Margherita. The potato pizza didn’t quite live up to the one at BAR, but we think that a potato pizza is a bit on the heavy side with such a thick crust.

One of the Serious Pie locations has recently closed (as of May 1st) to make room for a Starbucks Roastery and Tasting Room. It is not an exaggeration to say that Seattle has plenty of coffee snobs. For a while, the pizzeria was operating as a part of the Tasting Room, but no longer. Luckily there are a couple of other locations in Seattle that you can visit.

And the next time we go to Seattle, we should try some of these. If we don’t fill up on donuts, of course.

To visit:

Serious Pie
316 Virginia St
Seattle, WA 98101

#71 Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino

May 7, 2017

Delray Beach, FL

This past weekend, Eric found himself down in Florida for a bachelor party, not too far away from Delray Beach. Of course, he had to stop at this new addition to the 2016 list, Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino, and he brought his brother and friend. He sent me the pictures, which made me immediately jealous that I was not there. I quizzed him about his trip and the pizza.

First of all, what pizzas did you order?

At first neither Jordon or Scott wanted pizza so I was upset I couldn’t try a bunch, but then I convinced them. I got a Regina Margherita (basic Neapolitan), Jordon got the Pizza con Pistacchio e Salsiccia, and Scott got the Keste’. Overall, I think a pretty good mix, but if you were there we could’ve gotten some veggies.

 

Did one stand out as the best? 

We all agreed the Pistacchio e Salsiccia was the best.  I think it was actually better than the one at Keste in Manhattan. The sausage was the crumbly kind and the pesto was delicious.

 

(Barbara says: This is saying something, because we are big fans of Keste in Manhattan).

Which pizza would I have ordered?

I think you would have gotten either a Margherita, or the Roberto (burrata).

(Barbara says: This is probably correct. Eric knows that I like my burrata.)

How do these pizzas compare to the other Neapolitan pies that we’ve eaten?

These were definitely cheesier. Since the center crust was thin (as it should be for Neapolitans), it made it tough to lift up without it drooping or having toppings fall.  But the crust was perfect (not as doughy as the one in San Fran or Sotto). The sauce was very good.  The place itself was also very Italian with a nice colorful wood oven in the back.

   

How was the bachelor party?

Tiring. It was hard to get everyone to agree on what to do, and everyone was being cheap so we didn’t go to Sunfest (which was the whole reason we went to West Palm last weekend). But it was nice seeing everyone.

Did you miss me eating pizza with you?

Yes. I couldn’t compare it to anything. And you are more well-versed in everything pizza so it could’ve been a better conversation over dinner.  I felt very snooty when talking to Jordon and Scott, I hope we don’t come across that way to everyone!

(Barbara says: We probably do. Sorry everyone.)

 

If we go back to Florida, would we make a stop here?

Probably not. I’d rather go to Atlanta for those pizzas and then just get other food in Florida.

Eric also found it funny that his brother pointed out that there was a book called “Where to Eat Pizza” and jokingly asked if we had it. And he could actually say “yes” because we do have it! Jordon, you obviously didn’t read my blog post last week.

Thanks, Eric, for checking this one out. Next time, I’m going to make you write the blog post.

To visit:

Scuola Vecchia Pizza e Vino
522 E Atlantic Ave
Delray Beach, FL 33483

 

#70 Barone’s Italian Restaurant, #4 Pizzeria Mozza, & #43 Sotto

April 16th, 2016

Los Angeles, CA

Last April, I was lucky enough to go to LA for a conference, which was Thursday through the following Wednesday. I had the weekend off, though, so Eric decided to fly out and meet me and eat pizza! There are 5 pizza restaurants on the 2015 list in Los Angeles, and we only had two days to hit them all. We knew it would be tight, but we also knew that our stomachs could handle it.

Eric flew in too late on Friday night to try and go out for pizza, so we started our pizza adventure on Saturday. We didn’t have a car, so we decided that we’d make a day of it and borrow my friend’s bikes to take a tour of LA.

Our first stop, Barone’s Famous Italian Restaurant, opened at 11 am, and was a 17 mile bike from where we were staying in Santa Monica. Google told us that it would take us 2 hours, so we planned on taking 3 and left around 8 am. It was a good thing that we gave ourselves the extra time, because Google failed to tell us that the route required biking OVER the Hollywood Hills. For anyone who has been to LA, these are no small hills. People go HIKING in these hills, and we decided to ride our cruiser bikes there. It is a very good thing that Eric did not realize this ahead of time, or he probably would have made us take a Lyft.

So I wish I could tell you that this pizza was worth it, but it wasn’t. The restaurant menu actually looks pretty good, but we were there for the pizza. We went with the Grilled Vegetable pizza, but we maybe should have gone for one with sauce, or just one that had a lot of cheese. The crust is really thin, almost like a cracker.  It was baked in a sheet pan and was served on the sheet pan, too. There were too many capers on it, and it was really salty and dry. The cheese wasn’t very good, and the veggies were sort of soggy. Overall, we were disappointed with our choice, but we knew that we had plenty of other pizzas to try so we thought of it as an appetizer and moved on.

  

Luckily, our next stop did not require us to bike all the way back over the hills, and instead we biked into Downtown LA. It took us a little over an hour to get to Pizzeria Mozza, which was about 11 miles away from Barone’s. Here, we were not disappointed. Mozza is ranked at #4 on the Daily Meal list, and is another restaurant owned and operated by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. We couldn’t make a reservation, so it worked out good for us that we got there at an unusual lunch time, and we got seated right away.

We tried two pizzas here. We had to try the famous squash blossom and Burrata pizza, and we also got a white pizza with mushrooms. The crust was really good and airy, although there was a lot of it. We also didn’t really get a good taste of the sauce, but this is one time when we felt that the sauce didn’t really matter. The flavors of both pies were on point, and we wished that we had room to try some of the desserts here. Also, Mozza introduced us to the amazingness that is Burrata on pizza. We wish there could have been more of it!

 

It was a nice, easy, 12 mile bike back to Santa Monica (mostly downhill), and we had a quick break before heading out for dinner to the third pizzeria of the day, Sotto. We got our friend to come with us for dinner, and she has a car, so Eric was thrilled that we didn’t have to bike there.

At Sotto, I went with the Margherita, but we also tried the Guanciale with pork, ricotta, and scallion, and the Biancoverde, which had a great kick to it. We also started out with the homemade bread, which was a great decision. We still wished we had more Burrata.

 

We loved the atmosphere of Sotto. It has a really cool, LA vibe, although it was a little dark inside (see: poor photos). It has a great wine list. It isn’t so much a pizzeria as an Italian restaurant, but the pizzas are really good. The crust was almost as good as the crusts at Mozza. We’d definitely stop back here for pizza and dinner again.

Stay tuned for our Day 2 LA post next week. We want to give a special shout out to Lyssa for helping us eat all these pizzas, stay at her house, and take her bikes around on our long tour of LA. Also, thank you for not telling Eric that “biking into the Valley” meant biking over some crazy hills. It was better that he didn’t know what he was in for.

To visit:

Barone’s Famous Italian Restaurant
13726 Oxnard St
Valley Glen, CA 91401

Pizzeria Mozza
641 Highland Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Sotto
9575 W. Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90035

#85 Sal’s Pizza

April 10th, 2016

Mamaroneck, NY

Sal’s Pizza in Mamaroneck is ranked mainly for their Sicilian pie. We took our friends Claire and Jeff out to Mamaroneck one weekend afternoon to test it out. Mamaroneck, for anyone who doesn’t drive around NYC that often, is right in Westchester County, right off of I-95 as you go into Connecticut. It is probably an hour drive from our house in NJ to get there. I can’t remember if Eric got us lost driving there – the chances are good that he did.

 

When we went here last April, it had been a while since we had eaten a Sicilian slice. We’d been so busy eating our way around the NY slice joints! It was good to change it up. We ended up just going with a plain Sicilian pie to split between the four of us, which ended up being plenty of food. Next time we probably would have also tried the salad pie, since it seems to be another popular option.

Sal’s is known in the area to have lines out the door for these Sicilian slices, but we were there for lunch and got a table right away. The pizzeria is very old-school, and just what you’d expect from a 50-ish year old restaurant in terms of both atmosphere and decor.

 

As for the pizza, it is also pretty traditional. The regular slices looked like traditional NY slices. For the Sicilian, the crust was good. It was nice and airy and not too dense like the crust on some Sicilian slices that you find around NYC. The sauce was on the sweeter side. The mozzarella was not put on lightly (as you can see in the picture above). The Sicilian slice was pretty much everything that you’d expect from a Sicilian slice, although it also sort of reminded us of Ellio’s frozen pizzas.

We know that some people like their pizza full of cheese and grease. If that’s you, you should make a stop here at Sal’s as soon as possible. You probably aren’t trying to stay the same pants size while eating pizza 2-3 times a week.  While we will never turn down a slice of pizza, so much cheese isn’t really our thing.

There’s a rumor that Joe Torre used to stop here for pizzas on his way home from home games. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, and we think he probably could have found better pizza in the area. But it is quite possible he is one of those cheesy pizza lovers, in which case, we’d understand why he made the stop.

To visit:

Sal’s Pizza
316 Mamaroneck Avenue
Mamaroneck NY 10543

 

 

 

 

 

 

#7 Louie and Ernie’s

April 3rd, 2016

Bronx, NY

After our trip to Queens, we decided to hit another NY borough and we headed up into the Bronx to try another NYC classic pie. Louie and Ernie’s ranked high on the Daily Meal list, in the top 10, so we had some major expectations. When we were researching why it was ranked so high, we kept reading about the sausage, so of course, we had to get half of the pie with sausage to see what the fuss was all about.

The closest you can get to Louie and Ernie’s on the subway is by the 6, but then it is about a 15 minute walk from there. So in total, it took us about an hour to get there from work. The restaurant has a really local vibe, and they only serve pizza.

The sausage was the clumpy-style, instead of the sliced-style (are there technical terms for this?), which we decided that we prefer. The sausage is also made locally, right up the street. We loved the crust on this one, and the ratio of sauce:cheese.

We aren’t quite sure why this is ranked so high, though. Sure, it was a good NYC slice, but to rank it higher than John’s of Bleecker, Patsy’s, or Totonno’s is strange. We liked all of those better. We ranked it on our lists at #40 (Barb) and #69 (Eric), so decently far from the top 10. If we find ourselves back in the Bronx, though, it will be the first place on our list.

To visit:

Louie and Ernie’s
1300 Crosby Ave
Bronx, NY 10461

#89 Tarry Lodge

March 12th, 2016

Port Chester, NY

The first time that I heard of Tarry Lodge was when they were thinking of opening a new location in New Haven, just a month or so after I left. I didn’t even know that there were other locations, although I did know that it was one of Mario Batali’s restaurants.

I *think* that everyone knows who Mario Batali is, but in case you either 1) don’t have a TV or 2) never eat out at restaurants, he is one of the most famous television chefs and restaurant owners in the world. He runs many of his restaurants, including Tarry Lodge, with Joe Bastianich, who we know primarily from the older seasons of MasterChef Junior.

Side note: If you aren’t watching the current season of MasterChef Junior, you really should.

So, we drove out to Port Chester to have our first meal at a Mario Batali restaurant. The restaurant itself is really cute, and would make a great date location (especially because they also have a nice looking wine list). We ordered two pizzas here: a Margherita, and one with goat cheese, pistachios, red onion, and truffle honey.

While the flavor combo on the goat cheese pizza was really amazing and unexpected, the Margherita pie was just average. We’ve had much better.

The crust on both pies was light and fluffy, but we didn’t love it. The sauce was decent, but it was sort of bland and lacking that flavor punch that you get from a good tomato sauce (like, from here). So while we aren’t going to say that this pizza was bad, it was mostly forgettable.  And when we are visiting and eating over 100 pizzas, that isn’t really a good thing.

I don’t want to sound completely negative here – the goat cheese was awesome. The combination of creamy goat cheese with the salty pistachio and the sweet honey reminded us of a perfectly arranged cheese platter, and that pizza alone probably saved Tarry Lodge from being all the way near the bottom of our lists.

Honestly, we think that this restaurant only made it on the list because it is from Mario Batali. We noticed that it didn’t make the 2016 list. I really wonder how the location in New Haven is doing, considering that New Haven is such a pizza town. I think it’s probably good that they serve regular Italian fare also – I’m sure those dishes are excellent. I would guess that people aren’t going there for the pizza.

To visit:

Tarry Lodge
18 Mill Street
Port Chester, NY 10573

#41 Nick’s Pizza

March 19th, 2017

Forest Hills, NY

We had a free weekend, so of course, we spent Sunday afternoon driving to get pizza up in Queens. It’s really great how an hour drive now doesn’t even feel so long. We decided to go to Nick’s Pizza in Forest Hills. Nick’s is known for its thin-crust pies, and for its calzones, which Adam Kuban highly recommended.

We went with a normal cheese pie, a large, and because we can’t leave anything just plain, we added spinach to half. The toppings are pricey, but we were glad to see that the spinach was fresh. We really dislike frozen spinach on pizzas (we should add that to our list of “pizza pet peeves”). We also got a small calzone to go with the pizza since Adam Kuban had told us to “just order both”. We thought that we’d just take home any leftovers, but of course, we didn’t end up with any leftovers to bring home.

The pizza was good, and the crust was nice and light. We really like when pizza doesn’t make us feel heavy because that means we can eat more of it. We were pleasantly surprised that they were able to get such a good char using a gas oven.

The calzone was definitely worth trying, so we thank all of the reviews for suggesting that we order one. It is almost like a grilled cheese pita, and it was stuffed to the brim with ricotta and fresh mozzarella. The sauce was SO GOOD that we ended up dipping the calzone AND the pizza in it. We couldn’t get enough of it. Eric even said “we should always ask for a side of sauce to go with our pizza”. Not a bad idea…

 

We also really liked the splattering of fresh basil on top of the pizza. It reminded us of Di Fara, which reminded us once again that we need to go back there ASAP.

ALSO: Eric didn’t get us lost this time! We are finally figuring out how to drive around Queens. (It didn’t hurt that Nick’s is pretty much right off of the highway, though).

To visit:

Nick’s Pizza
108-26 Ascan Ave
Queens, NY 11375

 

#48 Mike’s Apizza

March 10th, 2017

West Haven, CT

in my previous post, I mentioned that Eric and I had an original list of pizza places in New Haven county that we tried to eat at a couple of years ago.  Well, one of the places that we went to was Mike’s Apizza. When we saw the addition of Mike’s on the 2016 list, we didn’t  realize that we had been there before. Eric realized that we had already been as we were driving there for dinner last Friday night on our way up to Boston.

   

The first time we went to Mike’s, we were not impressed. The pizza was decent, but nothing special, and nothing like the great New Haven pies. We don’t remember exactly what we got, but I think we split a large one-topping pizza. Even though we don’t remember the details of the pizza, we did remember the horrible service. We were seated in a corner table, and our server pretty much forgot about us after seating us, and then also after finally delivering our pizza. We know that New Haven pizzerias don’t have the friendliest reputations, but this was just so bad.

In the pursuit of fairness, we decided to give Mike’s another try. It had to have made the list for some reason, so maybe we were judging unfairly in our original assessment.

 

We ended up ordering two pizzas here, both smalls. One was the traditional tomato pie, and one was a one-topping with mushrooms. We are glad to say that the service was much better this time around, but maybe because the restaurant wasn’t so busy. The pizzas came out piping hot, and we were pleasantly surprised by the tomato pie. The crust was stiffer than a traditional New Haven pizza, so it held up well to all the sauce and the generous sprinkling of grated cheese. The mushroom pie was less exciting. It wasn’t anything special to remember, although it did taste good.

So, I guess the take-home point here is that if you are in New Haven, want a decent tomato pie, and feel like driving all the way out to West Haven, you could go to Mike’s. We wouldn’t go out of our way for any of the other pizzas here, though, and we’d rank it very close to the bottom of our New Haven pizza list.

We didn’t manage to hit any pizza places up in Boston, unfortunately. We had plans to hit one in Providence on the way home, but we had to cut the trip a bit short because our dog decided to eat an entire bowl of Hershey’s kisses while we were away. Just means we’ll have another excuse to take a road trip!

To visit:

Mike’s Apizza and Restaurant
111 Campbell Ave
West Haven, CT 06516