Monthly Archives: March 2012

March Madness: The Elite 8

March Madness: The Elite 8

Here we are, week 2. The Elite 8. These eight powerhouses have proven themselves worthy enough to move forward into pizza stardom and becoming one step closer to frozen pizza champions of the world. Disagree with the current standings do you? Then go eat a turd. Stay tuned for the final four and keep your ovens on pre-heat.

Ellios VS. Pizza Rolls

Man, oh man. This is the broke man’s round. Should I buy a gallon of gas? Or cheap yet fulfilling pizzas from the frozen aisle? Yeah, that would’ve been my choice too. Even though pizza rolls are sold by the sackful and they make one badass midnight snack, Ellios has been around since I was watching G.I joe cartoons on Saturday mornings. The endless choice of additions at your disposal with Ellios (like someone’s suggestion of sprinkling old bay on top) are the hook shot at the buzzer that sent them into the next round. We’re truly sorry Totino, but there’s always next season. -JC

Ellios 4 lyfe

Oozing rolls of pizza

California Pizza Kitchen VS. Red Baron

Last week’s surprising upset between DiGiorno and Red baron was all I heard about for the first couple of days. “What are you crazy?! DiGiorno is wayyyyy better than Red Baron!” Meh, if DG spent more time focusing on taste over advertising, we’d be singing an entirely different tune right now. Anyway, the 4 cheese Red baron was one of the best frozen cheese pizzas I can remember eating in the longest. It was super crispy and the variety of different cheeses gave it a flavor that stood out from the competition. Having said all that, California Pizza Kitchen makes some of the BEST gourmet pizzas around. I mean, have you tasted the BBQ chicken pizza?! As much as I adore the Baron’s scarf flapping in the wind, the newcomer CPK won this dogfight and soared into the final four. -JC

CPK all day

4 cheese baron

Stouffer’s French Bread VS. Lean Cuisine.

Listen. I’m the first guy to flip over the package to check the fat and calorie content on my foods…but not when it comes to pizza. Mad props to Lean Cuisine for making a product that appeals to the health conscience pizza population, but this bracket challenge is all about taste. Stouffer’s French bread may not be the best thing if you’re trying to lose that turkey neck, but it sure does taste amazing. The noise that crisp piece of sauced bread hitting your plate is a sound for sore ears. The twin pack of French bread pizzas easily toppled the savvy, low calorie snack of the Lean Cuisine franchise and inched closer to taking the crown. -JC

Frenchy

Stow Furs

Newman’s Own VS. Tombstone

Considering these are two totally different pizzas, it’s hard to pin them against each other. And I especially feel torn between my love of Tombstone the pizza and Paul Newman the actor. If you want a REALLY decent frozen veggie pizza, you need not look further than Newman’s Own. But I owe my robust and gelatinous childhood physique to Tombstone. Tombstone wins this round, but never count Newman out. -JP

Paul Newman wearing a rolex

What do you want on yours?

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza

Anthony's

The goods

850 Degrees

Pre-pizza snacks

Half plain, half deliciousness

Paul and Young Ron

Roasted Cauliflower

Most impressive

Fistful of joy

Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
100 Welsh Road, Horsham PA

Castro:

This review is a prime example of how recommendations are the deciding factor in where we eat pizza. After savoring coal fired pizza in center city, a link was posted to our Facebook page by one of our fans to check out “Anthony’s coal fired pizza.” Being the idiot I am, I assumed they were primarily based in the Florida area. A single wall post revealed that they have a spot just passed the Willow grove mall in Horsham. The Anthony’s family in Florida actually extended an invitation to the doughboys to come in and experience what REAL coal oven pizza was all about. Bring it.

After 10 years running and over 30 locations throughout the country, it’s obvious that Anthony’s has pizza eaters captivated nationwide. The first of many of their restaurants opened back in 2002 in Florida. Legend has it that Dan Marino loved the pizza so much that he helped finance the addition of dozens of other Anthony spots. And by legend, I mean fact. Either way, he looks great in those Isotoner gloves. What sets Anthony’s above the rest is their 800+ degree, anthracite coal burning ovens. Anthracite coal burns cleaner than wood and produces virtually no smoke whatsoever. Wood fired ovens leave your pies with a smokey, hickory aftertaste. Don’t get me wrong…I’m not hatin’ on wood ovens, I just prefer the finished product that coal ovens spit out.

Normally we stick to our guns and only eat pizza, but the General Manager Preston Russell set us up with some ridiculously sexy menu items that were just too good to pass up. We were given a tasting of 3 of the most deliciously notorious appetizers imaginable: Jumbo, sauceless, seasoned wings. Baked in their coal oven until crispy brown with a healthy shade of char on them. Anyone who can perfect a piece of chicken without the use of a sauce deserves to be recognized. Anthony’s took the wing game to a whole new level for me. The pork ribs marinated in garlic, rosemary, peppers and pinot grigio for no less than 24 hours were my favorite of the trio. The meat literally fell off the bone as it touched my lips. A perfect addition to wash your pizza down with. Lastly, 4 giant meatballs with a clump of fresh ricotta cheese. While we’re on the subject, it was brought to our attention that Anthony’s does not have a deep fryer, microwave or a freezer. They also do not carry ketchup, mayonaise or butter. What kind of restaurant could survive without any of those? One who knows their shit. This assures me that all of their ingredients are fresh and everything on the menu is roasted to perfection.

The main event. For our pizzas, we went with a half traditional plain pie (mozzarella and romano cheeses, italian plum tomatoes, basil and olive oil) and the “Paul and Young Ron” (Baby meatballs, sausage, long hots and ricotta cheese.) And for all you people who hate on freshly killed animals as toppings, a roasted cauliflower (consisting of roasted cauliflower, olive oil, garlic, mozzarella and romano cheeses topped off with bread crumbs). The soft Ricotta cheese was a nice creamy addition to the heavyweight meat combination of baby meatballs and sausage on the Paul and Young Ron. The Long hot peppers sealed the deal for me with this pie. It was only when I got a all 4 toppings in my mouth simultaneously that I realized how good this pizza actually was. The roasted cauliflower was a new experience for me. I’m not a fan of the texture of cauliflower whatsoever. But the fresh garlic and cheeses made it an enjoyable pizza. Perfect for all you weird non-meat eaters. The real star of the show was the plain pizza. It’s such a simple recipe. You can tell at first bite that the sweet sauce is made fresh. Anthony could scratch every other pizza from the menu. As long as that traditional plain pie was there, he’ll still have customers lining up at the door for a bite.

The standard for perfect crust under Anthony’s regime is crispy and blackened. Their motto is “Pizza Well Done.” Those 3 words are rules that all pizza shops should live and die by. The word “undercooked” does not exist between these walls. If you can’t handle the crispness the way pizza forefathers intended it to be, then stick to your run of the mill, corner shop-slop. If you want an impeccable pie created by a staff who truly understands the dynamics of great pizza, then let Anthony’s introduce you to their 800 degree, coal fired oven. I promise you the 11 mile commute from Philly will be well worth the wait.

Plichter:

Since I consider myself to be quite the pizza aficionado these days, I expect a lot out of the pizza I eat. Castro and I have separately eaten more slices in a month than some do in a year, so we’ve raised our standards and branched out quite a bit. While we both still enjoy the local, run of the mill pizzerias we grew up with, our tastes have gradually been changing. We jump at the opportunity to try anything different and/or original, whether it be an exotic topping combination or a textured crust. After all, how many reviews can we possibly write about a dish that’s sometimes so mundane? Fortunately for us, the coal-fired pizza craze over the past five years has changed the face of pizza for the better. And with places such as Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza leading the way, a new era is being ushered in.

Cooking pizza in a coal-fired oven certainly isn’t anything new. Lombardi’s in New York, the birthplace of pizza in America, has used coal-fired ovens since they first opened over 100 years ago. But somewhere along the way, conveyor and convection ovens became more popular due to their convenience and energy efficiency. So odds are if you’ve never had pizza from a coal-fired oven, you’re missing out on how pizza was truly intended to taste. Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza realized this importance, and has since then opened more than 30 locations with more on the way. Although this would technically fall under the category of “chain pizza”, the taste suggests they are anything but.

This not being an appetizer blog, I wish I could go into more detail about their non-pizza dishes. But let me say this: Any place that doesn’t have to rely on condiments to give their food authentic flavor is legit in my books. The wings and ribs, meagerly flavored with onions and peppers, were baked to a delicious crisp in the coal-fired oven. 100% ground beef meatballs were a welcomed addition as well, which was yet another “simple, rustic” dish. Go there for the pizza, but be sure to try one of these three as well.

Now appetizers are good and all, but we came there for PIZZA. The “Paul and Young Ron” was an easy choice for two lovers of hot peppers to try. Each bite was delicious, but it was only when you got every topping combination together did it really shine. The clumps of ricotta cheese went well with the baked sausage and meatballs, but were really pushed over the top by the long hots. Roasted cauliflower seemed like a a decent second option as a curveball, seeing how we indulged in a few dead animals already. Although I am a fan of cauliflower, the texture was a little too hard for me. But again, the garlic and cheeses made it up it. But the biggest upset of the day was the plain pizza. Simple, traditional and fresh, this pizza needed nothing more than sauce and cheese to be the star of the show. The coal-fired oven gave the crust a lightly burnt and crispy texture, while the cheese and sauce almost melted in your mouth. This thing was BOSS.

Anthony’s is only about a 20 minute drive from Philadelphia, so it’s definitely worth the trip. Their endless appetizers and specialty pizza list gives the customer plenty of options to choose from, but just be sure to go with a traditional pie as well.

March Madness: Frozen Pizza Tournament

March Madness: Frozen Pizza Tournament

ROUND 1

INTRODUCTION:

If you’re anything like the doughboys then you probably could give two shits about basketball, let alone a bunch of stupid college basketball teams taking up valuable TV airtime. Having said that, if you’re anything like the doughboys then you probably love pizza. When delivery/pick up isn’t an option, the next best thing would be to step your frozen pizza game up. For the rest of the month we’re gonna have a bracket challenge to find the best of the best when it comes down to microwaves and conventional ovens. Call your bookies, set your toaster oven to 375 for 12-15 minutes and place your bets. This is the frozen pizza sweet sixteen.

Ellios VS. Hot pockets

Two of the greatest foods under $3/drunk foods/2 days before payday foods. I’ve been eating both ever since I was a pimple faced, fat kid. What do you know about making all 9 pieces of ellios on a Saturday afternoon and watching the back to the future trilogy? However, hot pockets do make a mean ham and cheese. Not to mention the space aged, crisping sleeved technology they’re equipped with that cook your pocket in 90 seconds or less. I gotta go with Ellios on this one. Pepperoni pizza pockets are no match for Ellios “scold the roof of your mouth, hot sauce covered, sprinkle extra cheese on, deliciousness.” – JC

Ellios

Totino’s Pizza Rolls VS. Bagel Bites

This might be the toughest battle of this first round. I very rarely ever eat either of these 2 by themselves. I usually couple them with boneless wings and mozzerella sticks, to make some giant, voltron-like appetizer meal. Pizza rolls are an amazing snack because I usually end up buying the 90 count bags which can last me up upwards of week. On the other hand, when pizza’s on a bagel, you can eat pizza any time. Both teams gave their all and pizza alumni around the world would be proud, but I gotta give this win to the trans fat filled pizza rolls. Not only do those little cutie pies fulfill your every hunger, but you get 6 times as many for the same price as 9 bagel bites. Long live the rolls. – JC

Bagel Bites/Pizza Rolls

Hey, cool glasses bro.

DiGiorno VS. Red Baron

“It’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno.” Oh really? How about “it’s not pizza, it’s fucking garbage.” I appreciate the attempt of adding the mediocre wings, breadsticks and cookie combinations with their pizzas but it’s still trash. Red baron offers the same style combo bundles with a much better tasting pie. Not to mention the baron is $1-2 cheaper than DG. Plus! DiGiorno’s advertisements they run on TV drive me fucking crazy. Red Baron advances on the simple fact of quality over quantity…and a super badass name. – JC

Head to head battle

California Pizza Kitchen VS. Tony’s

I truly feel for you if you haven’t had the opportunity to visit a California Pizza Kitchen yet. It’s a chain restaurant that has multiple gourmet pies in their arsenal. Up until recently, they’ve been strictly a west coast thing. In fact, they claim to have invented the BBQ pizza. Regardless, they make one hell of a frozen pizza. The margareta pizza is one of my favorite single serving pizzas. Target usually offers 3 for $5 which I’m truly grateful for when my mortgage is due. I’m not gonna lie, I really don’t have much to say for Tony’s. It’s par pizza with the occasional 10 for $10. I imagine a microwaved Tony’s pie is magnificent after night of drinking 7% ABV beers. But not today. CPK won this battle with a landslide victory and advances to the Elite 8. – JC

Newman’s Own VS. Kashi

Is there anything Paul Newman can’t do?? Even from beyond the grave, his line of food products continue to do anything but disappoint. His crispy pizza with zesty and fresh veggies totally took out the Kashi roasted veggie thin crust. I wish I could’ve sat down and ate 50 slices straight just like the scene in Cool Hand Luke. – JP

Cool Hand Pizza

Tombstone VS. Freschetta

I try not to litter my reviews with obscenities, but Freschetta fucking sucks. I mean it REALLY FUCKING SUCKS. For years I ate the left over Freschetta pizza from the Nazareth hospital cafeteria at the end of the night, only because I got it for free before they threw it away. There were plenty of nights where going hungry would’ve been a better option. If left in the oven for even 30 seconds too long, the crust becomes inedible. This was the situation once again this round. Extra cheese Tombstone totally destroyed the 4 cheese medley Freschetta. “Here Lies Frescetta: The Worst Pizza Ever For Stupid Idiots” – JP

Stouffer’s French Bread VS. Mama Celeste.

Going into this sweet sixteen, I already knew Mr. Stouffer was gonna make it to the big four. I don’t want to give a bias opinion on the French bread pie, but it never fails to disappoint. That is, unless you fail to cook it long enough and it’s ice cold in the center but hot enough to sear the roof of your mouth. The only thing mama celeste has going for it was her brief but memorable cameo in don’t tell mom the babysitter’s dead. “Mama Celeste face up, I go to work. Mama Celeste face down, we’re selling carnations on a freeway off ramp.” 10 for $10 mama’s with your acme supercard wasn’t nearly enough to topple the pizza reign of French bread pizza. – JC

Thumbs up to bread from France.

Lean Cuisine VS. Smart Ones

Healthy pizza? I know, it doesn’t sound fun. But to be honest, Lean Cuisine four cheese pizza isn’t half bad. Considering it’s microwaved, only 350 calories, and has 20 grams of protein, it’s a pretty decent option for those who’re trying to look a little less doughy. Smart Ones wasn’t bad either, but Lean Cuisine just squeezed past the competition. – JP

Paddy Whacks

Paddy Whacks
9241 Welsh Road

Castro:

Let’s get a few things straight before we proceed with the pizza. I hate crowds. I hate places where you have to wait any more than a minute to get a beer. I also hate places that play pitbull songs every 30 minutes. Having said all that, going to a place like Paddy Whacks to do a pizza review is almost unprecedented, even for a popped collarless chap like myself. However, after tales surfaced of a lobster and cream pizza that’s ONLY available on Friday’s during Lent, I had to see what all the fuss was about. I was born and raised Catholic. I attended Catholic grade and high schools. But let’s be serious. Not eating meat during Fridays in Lent is the most bogus rule of all time. I mean, it’s not like you’re gonna be shunned from entering the pearly gates for indulging in a rib eye steak after a long, stupid work week around Easter time.

You can search Paddy Whacks menu high and low to find this pizza, but it’ll be M.I.A..kind of like an Anthrax song on their jukebox. That’s because it’s a special, homemade creation by the kitchen manager, Kris Serviss. It’s a specialty pie only offered during Lent. You see, every year Kris comes up with a new concoction to accommodate their firm believers. Kris starts with a standard, 12″ pub pizza crust, nothing crazy. He coats it with a smoked onion and roasted garlic cream sauce. It’s his very own secret recipe. He then tops it with spinach, sundried tomatoes, and handfuls of fresh clumped mozzarella balls. What’s the money shot you ask? About a dozen 1-2″ chunks of savory lobster. That is one hell of a dream team line-up.

At first bite, Kris’ homemade garlicky cream sauce grabs you by your jawline and doesn’t let go. It’s by far one of the most original pizza sauces I’ve had. If he would’ve used an Alfredo sauce or a white sauce like most other places, this pizza would’ve been just another pie. The fruity sweetness of the sundried tomatoes went well with the creamy sourness of the spinach. I don’t think any other topping aside from lobster would’ve have worked with this pizza. All in all, I’d say Paddy Whacks has a great thing going with offering this pie during Easter. I want to be greedy and say I’d like to see it as a year-round thing, but the anticipation of a new experiment from the mind of Kris Serviss each March is something I will now look forward to. Hats off to Paddy Whacks for giving the chef an opportunity to create something that appeals to everyone. Well played.

Plichter:

Let’s get a few things straight: I think Lent’s stupid, I think most forms of organized religion are stupid, and I think the idea of me going to hell for eating meat on a Friday is EXTREMELY stupid. I mean come on; eating a hunk of steak on a Friday is probably the least of the Lord’s problems. But then again, I always enjoy trying new concoctions. And when I first saw that lobster pizza that Kris Serviss posted on Facebook, I knew where we were headed next.

Like Castro mentioned, the crust isn’t the main attraction to a Paddy Whacks pizza. I’ve learned over the past year that most restaurant-bars use generic and frozen crusts that are thick as a board and even less tasty. For this pizza though, the pub crust almost worked in its favor. The crust acted almost like a giant bread stick, which was perfect for the garlic cream sauce. The spinach was moist, sharp and pungent, but the freshly clumped mozzarella was enough to blanket and improved its taste. The bulbous chunks of lobster were generous and juicy, which any seafood lover would approve of. Basically, as far as a seafood pizza is concerned, this was the perfect combination of toppings.

I’ve never been a HUGE fan of seafood pizza, but this was a unique exception. Kudos to my buddy Kris Serviss for concocting such a delectable dish. If you’re a diehard Christian, stop into Paddy Whacks this Friday and have yourself a guilt-free time. If you’re not, give it a try anyways.

Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria

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Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizza
http://www.pietrospizza.com
121 South Street
1714 Walnut Street
140 W. Route 70 (Marlton NJ)

Let me start this off by saying that I’ve been a faithful Pietro’s customer for years. I discovered the South Street location back in 2002 and I haven’t had a bad pie since. You all can thank me later for this one. There’s one single factor that separates Pietro’s from everyone else. Consistency. You can order whatever pizza you want, come back 5 years later and they’ll make you the EXACT same great tasting pie that you remember and love. I recall when I was in Iraq, there was no food that I craved and looked forward to putting in my mouth more than a Pietro’s half pepperoni/half sausage pizza.

The atmosphere inside is very dark and romantic. Minimal lighting combined with an array of Italian artwork make it a very intimate dining experience. It’s definitely a great place to bring a chick that you’re trying to score with. Be prepared to spend about $17-20 on a large pie. They’re not cheap. However, you can’t even begin to try and put a price on the quality pizza that you’re gonna get. If you make your way to the back of the restaurant, you’ll come across an open counter where you can watch them hand craft each pie with such precision. After your pizza is meticulously constructed, it’s thrown into one of their famous coal-fired ovens. The temperatures in their ovens reach upwards of 800 degrees, meaning your pie is done and cooked to perfection in roughly 4-5 minutes. I’ve had just about every topping worth mentioning from Pietro’s and I have yet to be disappointed. Today I stuck with a traditional plain pie, with Roma tomatoes on half. The simplicity behind each pizza amazes me. It’s nothing more than freshly sliced mozzerella, and tangy tomato sauce on their hand tossed dough. Let us not forget the garnishing of fresh basil leaves. The coal fired oven is what gives it the distinct charred taste that will have you coming back for thirds and fifths. The crust was chewy and not a touch over-burned. Today was actually the first time I’ve ever had the Roma tomatoes as a topping. They were super juicy and exploded with flavor. I can’t say I’ve ever had tomatoes like these on a pizza before, but after today, they’ll be making a regular appearance on my pies.

After I consumed my 4 slices and soiled my napkin with the tomato juices that lingered on my chin, I made my way to the back and politely shook the chef’s hand. I thanked him for making what was undoubtedly one of my personal favorites since I started this blog. Pietro’s needs to get their shit together and find some real estate in the northeast. If only I were that lucky.