If you fall into the same age bracket as the Doughboys, then you probably considered The Roosevelt Mall your “hang out” at some point during your life. Most notably during the summers of ’95 thru 98′. If that’s the case, then I’m willing to bet that you’ve eaten a slice on more than one occasion from either Gino’s Pizzarama, opposite Macy’s or Pizza Roma, next to Sears. Both of these pizza parlors have been around since we were kids. Both shops were the cheapest places to get food in the vicinity of the mall. We’re here to set the record straight on who serves up the tastiest slice this side of Cottman Ave. This is the Roosevelt Mall rumble.
2383 Cottman Ave.
I probably have the worst memory out of anyone I know. My brain will literally pick and choose what to remember. Most of the time it’s useless information. However, one thing I will never forget was getting $20 from my mom to go to the Roosevelt Mall on a Friday night. It had to last me the entire night. After I acquired my Marilyn Manson blacklight poster, a nine inch nails patch, incense from way out and a CD single from Sam Goody, I was left with only a few bucks for food. How does a rather portly, overweight slob like myself spend it? On pizza. One of my fondest memories of Gino’s Pizzarama is sitting in one of the booths with the stereotypical red and white checkered tablecloth stretched out on top. When I reached for the crushed red peppers to dress up my slice, a giant mutant cockroach staggered out from behind it. This is the Gino’s that I came to know and love. When I would take trips up to the army recruiter, he would take me there and he’d buy me slices in hopes of getting my signature on that dotted line. I will forever hold a special place in my heart for Gino’s pizza. Who am I kidding, this pizza fucking sucks. Today I got a single plain slice to keep it simple and they still managed to butcher it. When I first walked in, the 5 pizzas that were behind the counter top glass had looked like they’ve been there since Easter. The cheese was a giant, single sheet that tasted like I had just bit into a leather wallet. The crust tasted like a stale, unbuttered kaiser roll. Back in the day, pizza was pizza. I didn’t know much about it except that it got eaten. After we started the blog, i’ve been blessed with the opportunity to experience what goes into a truly great pizza. This was borderline embarrassing for both parties involved. Gino’s sucked 15 years ago and it still sucks today. What bothers me even more is the extension they added to their place for additional seating used to be where Mr. Bulky was. I would much rather eat candy than this slop. Hats off to them for staying open as long as they have, but someone should’ve turned them into a laundromat or a nail salon a long time ago.
There were pros and cons that went along with our visit to Gino’s Pizzarama in the Roosevelt Mall. Pro: I deliberately ignored the “NO FREE REFILLS” sign and topped off my Mountain Dew. Con: I probably contracted Hepatitis from sitting in one of their booths. I used to work at the Art Palette in the Roosevelt Mall right after high school, where I made a measly $150 for every two weeks of work there. That barely left me with the proper funds necessary to provide adequate sustenance. So I ate where I could for as little as possible. My hardly well balanced diet consisted of Ramen Noodles, Wendy’s 99 Cent Menu, and Gino’s Pizzarama. The pizza was terrible back then, but I got it in exchange for free art supplies. This time around, I can’t believe I actually paid for it. Let me give these guys a few tips on how to run a pizzeria: 1) Keeping the lights on so people know you’re open is a good start. 2) Having more than three slice pies available certainly helps. 3) Making sure your pizza doesn’t taste like someone took a crap or a dump in an oven is of the utmost importance. I think one of the twenty nail salons in the mall could’ve made a better pie.
7300 Bustleton Ave.
Remember when seeing a movie meant dialing 222-3456 for showtimes from your home phone? After you listened to whatever audio trailer they played, you were prompted to punch in the first 3 letters of your movie selection. “You have selected The Mighty Ducks: D3, rated PG.” After you entered your zip code, your choice would almost always end up being The AMC Orleans 8. You would have your parents drop you off with just enough time to grab a bite to eat before the movie. The ONLY place I ever went to eat before a movie at The Orleans was Pizza Roma. Plain slices were $1 and toppings were $1.50. $5 got me 3 sausage slices and a cherry coke. As a fat little teenager, you couldn’t beat that. I spent a good part of my youth hanging out in here on weekends. I’ve got to admit, it’s probably been over 12 years since I’ve eaten here before today. I was kind of stoked to see if the sausage pizza was still as good as I remembered it being. Plichter got himself a meat lovers slice and I got my coveted sausage. It looked exactly how I recalled it looking from years prior. It was covered in little balls of seasoned sausage, and the slice stretched off the edge of my paper plate. It really did look promising. I kid you not, I bit into it and all the bad things in this world seemed like they were baked into this slice. It was horrendous. It was luke warm. The cheese wasn’t even really melted. The sauce was super acidic. The sausage had a very distinct taste to it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it was definitely something unpleasant. I sat back in my booth and after a few minutes it hit me. The fucking sausage tasted like the incense the priest would burn in church when they would swing it from the chain into the audience. You know that saying “pizza is like sex…when it’s bad it’s still good”? Pizza Roma is the exception to that saying. I ate 3 bites of it before I threw in the towel. I’m pretty sure the 2 additional bites were just to confirm that the sausage tasted as atrocious as it did. This is hands down THE WORST PIZZA I’ve eaten since we started this blog. So who wins in a pizza battle against these two? Nobody wins. The person who actually lost was me. Do yourself a favor and walk across the street to Jim’s and grab a steak, because the the pizza by the mall just doesn’t cut it.
Have you ever had a slice of pizza that tasted like a combination of church incense and batteries? No? Well then head on down to Pizza Roma and try anything with their sausage, because that’s what it tastes like. Take a good look at the meat lovers slice I got. Does it not look amazing? I saw the generous amounts of sliced bacon on that thing and thought to myself, “I want that.” It was the most deceiving slice I’ve ever had in my entire life. It was so gross that I couldn’t even finish it, and I’ll almost always eat whatever food is put in front of me! Nothing brought me more pleasure than giving this disgrace the finger and dunking it into the trashcan. Although these two were pinned against each other, Castro and I ended up being the true losers of the day. We wasted our time and money on something I wouldn’t even feed to one of the homeless who inhabit the Roosevelt Mall. Next time, I’ll be sure to walk down to Steve’s and go with a pizza steak instead.