Friday, February 26, 2016

Bonus Pizza Experience

This is a bonus experience and does not count in my 50 pizzas of 2016 because it is not in Columbus OH.  Instead we found ourselves dining out in in a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix Arizona and could not resist ordering - PIZZA - Mexican Pizza!

We were dining at Via Delasantos with Susan and Ken and Audrey.  Susan described this restaurant as a "little slice of Mexico" and maybe it is.  We were happy to sit outside in the bougainvillea lined patio  on a Sunday 85 degree day in February. Audrey described the restaurant as "Cas" - that is to say "Casual" and we all liked the friendliness of the staff where everything that was asked for was given the answer "Sure."

So, I ordered the Mexican pizza and with cheese, tomatoes and olives and requested that they leave off the beans and the answer was "Sure."  We ordered it at 12:04 and it came at 12:15 with the question "who ordered the cheese crisp"?  Another word for this tasty dish.

Everyone tried it and the unanimous opinion was that it was VERY good.  The base of the pizza was a tortilla and it came out sizzling hot.  Chuck said "MMM Good"  Ken said "That is really good." Susan said "You can make this at home."  And I don't remember what Audrey said.  Anyway, it was very good.

Before we went to this restaurant and at this restaurant there was a discussion by Susan and Ken about whether this was an authentic Mexican restaurant.  Surely they had soft Mexican music in the background, we enjoyed our Coronas (instead of my usual Bud Light) and there was even a Mexican picture in the ladies room.

However, Ken wisely wondered whether the food that was served here would be eaten in Mexico and I don't know that answer to that.  I only know that what I had was delicious and I would recommend it to anyone.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Piiza #7 Pizzeria Uno

Pizzeria Uno is on the other side of town and it really might not have been in my 50 cheese pizzas except for one important thing - they had a coupon in the paper and so Chuck thought it would be a good place to try cheese pizza.  Here he is at his happiest - holding his coupon!
And so we found ourselves driving to the western part of the city to try out their Chicago style deep dish pizza.  We got there at about 1:30 in the afternoon - a favorite dining time for us because it is usually not at all crowded and it was not.  We were seated at a very comfortable booth in the bar area.  This reminded Chuck of a pub with brick walls,wood tables,  stone floor, the requisite Buckeye paraphernalia, tiffany lamps and reminders that this is the Chicago Pizza.
The menu is really full of much more than pizza.  I decided to do a pick two which included a buffalo chicken salad and 6 inch cheese pizza.  Chuck just got a small strawberry walnut salad.  We placed our orders at 1:36, got the salads at 1:47 and the pizza at 1:52.  The salads were VERY good and we would both definitely come back for them.
The pizza was deep dish and it also had chunks of tomatoes in it.  Chuck kept saying "what a cute little pizza." and here is a picture of me with it.

It tasted really good - cheesy, gooey, and tomatoey.  The crust was really bready  and filling.  The whole thing was so rich that i could only eat half of it.   Chuck loves bread and so was a bigger fan of this pizza than me.  I also did not like so much tomato flavor.  I know this is good pizza - but not necessarily for one who is looking for CHEESE pizza.

Another reason why Chuck might not want to go to this restaurant is that it is part of a chain.  He is always partial to the "greasy spoon" and the "neighborhood dive."  However, what was interesting is that as soon as we sat down he told me it reminded him of when he went to a pizzeria uno in Baltimore Maryland.  It was the day before my mother died and he was eating there with my brothers and I had my last time alone with my mother.  They brought me pizza afterward.  And so the blessing of remembering that holy time because we were here in another Pizzeria Uno in Columbus.  Maybe chain restaurants can have a way of holding surprising memories for us.

This restaurant is really comfortable and warm.  If it were in my neighborhood, I would come here over and over again - probably not for the cheese pizza - but for the ambiance, the salads, and of course, the beer.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pizza #6 Buca Di Beppo

The decision to go to dinner at Buca's was a quick one when I discovered I had an email coupon that expired in 2 days.  Chuck had spent the day at the hospital with a friend and was grateful for the opportunity to get out of cooking.  We called John and Marsha very last minute and they were free to go too.

I love Buca's and have been there many, many times and never ordered pizza.  We like their chicken limone and apple gorgonzola salad but we were here on our pizza quest.  But this time we ordered the pizza con formaggio which was mozzarella, garlic'infused olivce oil and their authentic pizza sauce.  It was $22.99 for the four of us and we brought some home.

What I like about Buca's the most is the atmosphere. It is very Italian with red and white checked tablecloths and a red floral carpet on the floor. The pictures are eclectic and very fun with lots of interesting pictures of nuns and popes. When went to the ladie's room I found a framed brassiere which was really unusual.

And the music is the old standards with Frank Sinatra, Vic Damone Tony Bennet etc.  There is something about listening to that kind of music that makes me think of my parents and that adds to the whole experience for me.

The pizza was GREAT!  It was served on a board that they placed on two cans of peppers which was a great touch.  The crust was good and crunchy and the pizza itself was flavorful and gooey.  It had LOTS of cheese, was well seasoned and the tomato flavor was there but not overpowering. All four of us gave it a ringing endorsement.

While we were eating there was a table behind us celebrating a birthday and we clapped and Marsha sang along because she saw the words on the placemat.  Here they are - cute and clever like the rest of the restaurant.
Meat balls!  Pasta!
We make them fresh for you!
Home made Marinar a ...lots of garlic too!
It's your day to Bucaaa...
so we're here to say,
have a Happy Birthday
The Buca di Beppo way!

So, I absolutely recommend the Pizza at Buca's as well as the atmosphere, the friendly staff, the family eating and the pictures in the ladies room.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Pizza # 5 Marcella's Italian Kitchen

I had been to Marcella's before but never had their pizza and as an "Italian Kitchen" surely they would have good pizza.

This time my companion was my friend Melanie who has gone to more movies with me since her retirement than she probably has in the last decade.  We have really enjoyed $5 movies and free popcorn on Tuesdays!  But I digress.

I learned a few things at this restaurant.  First,  those in the know pronounce Marcella's as MarCHella"s.   It is a Cameron Mitchell restaurant named after an actual person who pronounced her name like that.

Second, because it was lunch time and I was in the mood, I passed on the beer and ordered Pinot Grigio.  And it was served in a very different wine glass - the waitress called "Tuscan."  I never heard of that before!

We  were delighted to find that we could order a half pizza and a chopped salad for lunch. Melanie was able to get a gluten free pizza and I had a regular one.  I ordered the four cheese pizza (ricotta, mozarella, romano, parmesan)  and it turned out they had a new one so I had a choice.  Melanie got the new one with tomato sauce and I got the old one without.

There were some disappointments in the food.  First we got served our bread.  The waitress eventually brought some gluten free for Melanie.  Mine was good but cold and I could not help but think a minute or two in the oven would have made a big difference.

And then there was the pizza.  As I tasted it, I thought there was something different about it from the other pizzas I have eaten up to this point.  And I had a word in mind but asked Melanie for her opinion. She  took one little bite and pronounced it "bland" and that joined with my words: "blah" and "Boring."  It may have been the seasoning because it was mostly just cheese.  I tried her pizza and felt that the tomato flavors overpowered the cheese.

The restaurant itself is nice - brick walls, wood floors and soft rock music in the background.  It does not really have any booths and I have a feeling that if it were crowded and busy  it would be too much noise for me.

So, Marcella's may not be the place for pizza for me and definitely a restaurant I would want to go to "off hours" to have the best experience. 

PS - We went to the Lady's room afterward and I was impressed with the mouthwash and hairspray they provided.  That is a really nice touch!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Pizza #4 Borgata Pizza Bistro

This is a new york style pizza place in our neighborhood - about a mile from our house.
On this trip we met Marnie, Erik and Maggie at the restaurant.  It took two trips to get there, because the first Friday we were going to go, EVERY  table was reserved for a party of 30.  So we returned last week and Happy to go.

This is a perfect family pizza place.  We got there before Marnie's family and set up our table with a high chair and ordered an appetizer - bread with pizza sauce.  It was outstanding - hot and crunchy and just delicious.  Chuck keeps asking when we can go back just to get this bread!  What pleased me immensely was that when I ordered my bud light I actually got a frosted glass! Attention to details matters!  This is what I would call a good beginning to a wonderful experience.

Part of the wonderful experience was having a very good waitress.  Dining out with 18 month old Maggie requires creativity and patience.  The waitress presented her with crayons and was just really attentive to us.  Nobody seemed to care that Maggie was throwing crayons on the floor.

 I ordered the white pizza( A Borgata "Bistro" pizza  and Marnie and Erik ordered  a "New York" mushroom and pepper with anchovies on one half.  Everyone loved their food - even Maggie..  Marnie said it sounded like I was having an orgasm as I was eating mine - it was that  good.   The perfect crust, however, proves to be somewhat elusive.  The bottom crust was somewhat soggy but everything else was delicious.  Marnie tried and said : "delicious, a little chewy, perfect, the only change would be a crispier crust."

What I liked the best about this Borgata's is the ambiance.  It is a neighborhood pizza place.  There is a bar where some people sat and chatted with the staff.  There were pizza makers throwing the pizza in the air and catching it and it really did have an authentic Italian vibe.

I recommend it as a warm and comfortable place for a family meal after a busy week.  We'll be going back soon - if only for the bread and the beer!  And without the family maybe we will just sit at the bar and watch them throw the pizzas around.