Good Pizza

It must be extremely difficult to make good pizza.  I say that because the vast majority of pizza shops I’ve been to have sold pizza that is somewhere between horrible and "not horrible, but not worth getting again."  In fact, I can only think of 4 pizza places whose pizza is good:

Grotto Pizza in Delaware and northeast PA
Mack & Manco at the Jersey shore
Lorenzo’s in Philly
Domino’s thin crust pizza

What makes those pizzas good is that they are thin and somewhat crunchy, in addition to having sauce and cheese that is between good and great.  (Though I haven’t been to Lorenzo’s in a while -- is their crust actually crunchy?)

The thing I don’t understand is how dozens upon dozens of other pizza joints -- virtually all of them, in my experience -- get this so wrong.  The crust is almost always soft/soggy/floppy, and the sauce and cheese are between "eh" and "gross."  The only conclusion I can see is that it must be really hard to make good pizza.

But having 4 good pizza places is better than having none, right?  Yes, but the problem is that 3 of those 4 places have no locations within an hour of our house.  We do live out in the sticks, and there’s not much of anything particularly close to us, but guess what’s within 5 minutes: not one but two utterly crappy pizza shops.

Kim says that maybe other people actually like the kind of pizza that all these shops serve.  That seems unbelievable to me.  Is it just me?

Note: I also really like Papa John’s BBQ Chicken & Bacon pizza, and Pizzeria Uno’s deep-dish pizza, and the relatively thick pizza from Adrian’s Pizza in Pittsburgh; but these are all thick pizzas and to me that puts them in a totally different category than traditional/normal pizza which to me means thin pizza.
Posted by Anthony on 16 replies

Comments:

01. May 6, 2007 at 03:39pm by Kev:

Being from Long Island, I am spoiled when it comes to pizza. Most of the pizzerias on the island are good, and only a couple of places that I’ve gone to had disgusting pizza. NY City, Brooklyn especially has really excellent pizza. Maybe you need to visit NY to check it out for yourself!

02. May 6, 2007 at 10:26pm by Mom:

Of course you know that you MUST go to OC, NJ for Mack & Manco’s.  Since we can’t make that trip once a week, we settle for Mario’s right here in Boyertown; hand tossed, thin and crispy, yum! :)

03. May 7, 2007 at 12:34pm by Mike:

Hmmm.  I’m not so sure that the problem is that pizza is hard to make, it’s that the rest of humanity seems to prefer pizza prepared in a different way than you do.  Haha.  I know I’m undemanding, but as far as I’m concerned you can’t beat a large pepperoni from Little Caesar’s in your hands in less than 30 seconds for $5.  I’m all about efficiency.  I take it you’re not a fan of Canyon Pizza either, but that along with ramen noodles was pretty much what kept me alive during college and I usually make it a point to go back there when I visit PSU.  By the way, I dig the new layout here.

04. May 8, 2007 at 12:04pm by Anthony:

Quoting Mike:

I’m not so sure that the problem is that pizza is hard to make, it’s that the rest of humanity seems to prefer pizza prepared in a different way than you do.

Come on, be serious.

Well I’ve never had pizza from Little Caesar’s, Canyon Pizza, Mario’s, or anywhere in NYC.  Actually, I think I did have pizza in NYC a couple years ago, but I don’t remember whether it was good.

OK, I don’t dispute that it’s possible to find good pizza, but in my experience it’s so few and far between as to be extremely frustrating and not worth taking a chance on some random pizza place, because the odds are extremely high that it’s going to be bad.  And I’m not a picky eater at all, but I guess when it comes to pizza, since I require the crust to not be soggy and gross, I am a picky eater.

Off the top of my head, some local pizza places are Guiseppe’s (crappy), Two King’s (crappy), that place across from Air Products whose name I can’t think of (crappy), Little Nicky’s (we actually got a couple of really good slices here one time, then went back the next week and got totally different, totally crappy pizza).

05. May 9, 2007 at 12:49pm by Tasha:

I just have to laugh, because Little Caesar’s is the pizza chain that they have inside of Kmart stores!!  How good could it be?

06. May 9, 2007 at 01:33pm by Mike:

Haha.  OK, I’ll be serious.  Like I said, it’s possible I’m just an undemanding pizza eater.  And I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or what, but my friends get excited about going to Little C’s when they come to visit me because they don’t have them (as far as I know) in PA.  I didn’t know they had them in K-Mart, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one!

I personally prefer a softer crust, but I suppose if you don’t care for that, then there isn’t much else out there.  I was just messing with you anyway.  To me pizza is kind of like Taco Bell - it’s a good, quick, and cheap meal, but not exactly something to be savored like a steak.  I literally remember only twice in my life when I’ve had pizza that I thought was gross.  I dunno, maybe I should take it more seriously. . .or maybe you’re the world’s first pizza snob.  :)

07. May 9, 2007 at 01:43pm by Anthony:

Ahaha, I knew you were a soft-crust-lover!

On that note, I guess it’s true, I’m just in the minority with my hatred of soft crust, which explains why crunchy crust is so hard to find: apparently relatively few other people like it.

Quoting Mike:

To me pizza is kind of like Taco Bell - itís a good, quick, and cheap meal, but not exactly something to be savored like a steak.

I definitely love steak, but to me, pizza can be just as savory-worthy-ily.  But pizza like that is hard to come by, and that’s my point: Grotto Pizza is absolutely as good as a good steak to me, and I’d gladly drive an hour to get it, but I wouldn’t drive the 4 minutes to either of the two floppy-pizza places down the road from me.

08. May 9, 2007 at 05:00pm by Tasha:

Papa John’s thin crust is really crunchy, even the ’bone’, which always goes to Sinjin, is as crispy as a cracker. And, they deliver :)  We only get thin crust from there, the rest of pizza is kind of sucky.

Oh, wait...  Sinjin just said that he likes the soft crust ’bones’ better. He’s so weird.

09. May 9, 2007 at 05:36pm by Kim:

There’s a really good brick oven pizza shop in Bethesda Maryland (on the outskirts of DC) called Red Tomato Cafe  As I recall, the crust is really thin and crunchy. If we ever get to DC, we’ll have to stop in there. There’s a PF Chang’s in the area, too, so maybe we should just move. : )

10. May 10, 2007 at 12:33pm by andy:

we played NYC last night and stopped at roma pizza (essex and delancey) and had some sicilian slices... i definitely wasn’t complaining about THAT pizza.  thick crust FTW.  on regular slices i don’t really have a crust preference here, but i mean, more towards crunchy is definitely a must, sloppy and soggy don’t fly.

on little caesars: while i was in LA we got a pizza from there and i would have to say it’s possibly the worst pizza i’ve ever had.

11. May 11, 2007 at 10:36pm by Mom:

Ya wanna Italian pizza? Go to the Italian market in Philly OR take your bride to Italy and taste real authentic pizza as well as ’homemades’ pasta.  You’ll never again eat Italian food in USA and feel the same way about it.  I say we plan a family vacation there soon :)

12. May 20, 2007 at 10:57am by Rolly:

Kim,

I just read the plymouth meeting mall is getting a makeover, particularly the site of the old IKEA.  You will be happy to know, a PF Changs is is among the new restaurants slated to go in there!

From the article....
  "Plymouth Meeting Mall is located in the greater Philadelphia area, northwest of the city, on Germantown Pike at the confluence of three major arteries, the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276), its Northeast Extension, and the Blue Route (I-476). The property is an 800,000 square foot regional mall anchored by Macy’s and Boscov’s.

As previously announced, the redevelopment will add 142,000 square feet to the center. A new 65,000 square foot Whole Foods Market will be connected to the mall by an open-air lifestyle wing of approximately 40,000 square feet. The project will add several new outparcels for four themed restaurants, PF Chang’s Asian Bistro, Redstone American Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, and Benihana, and a Citibank branch. The outparcels are scheduled for year-end 2007 occupancy, and the expansion is expected to be completed in 2008. To clear the way for this addition, the former 160,000 square foot IKEA store was demolished."

13. May 21, 2007 at 03:57pm by Anthony:

PF Chang’s, woot!

Goodbye old Ikea!  Thanks for everything!

14. May 23, 2007 at 12:12pm by Kim:

Excellent! Thanks for the information, Rolly. : )

15. May 26, 2007 at 10:41pm by Mom:

Yikes! Where do I go to use up my IKEA gift cards????

16. May 29, 2007 at 07:11am by Rolly:

The building that got demolished was the old IKEA, on the grounds of the Plymouth Meeting mall.  It has been vacant for a few years, as IKEA built a larger building on the other side of Ridge ave., closer to Conshy.

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