Several months back, my singular dining companion Anne and I hit up Pizza Domenica for the first time. I’d been to Domenica quite a few times and I was curious if the Uptown pizza outpost held up the same commitment and quality as the CBD original, only because in my general experience, sequels tend to disappoint.
Anne and I arrived post-lunch rush so only about a quarter of the tables were filled. We ordered at the counter, as you’re supposed to, and sat down to await our bounty. We began with a few appetizers, the first being beef meatballs atop creamy polenta in an arrabbiata (garlic, tomatoes and chili peppers) sauce. As excited I was to sink my teeth in, the flavor of the meatball itself was somewhat bland, but I did enjoy the polenta and the spicy arrabbiata sauce.
The next two apps came together, a tuna crudo with avocado and Mandarin oranges and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad with toasted almonds, golden raisins and Creole mustard vinaigrette. The crudo was somewhat lackluster in presentation and the Mandarins, while an interesting addition, tended to make the whole dish too sweet for my taste. On the other hand, the salad was delicious and we scarfed it up, my only dismay happening in the second-to-last bite that oddly contained a piece of clear plastic. Strange, no?
Because the meal seemed a disappointment so far, especially when compared to the excellence at Domenica, I felt ready to give up before the main course. Before I could make up my mind to tell Anne I was pretty much done, our pizza arrived. Anne and I agreed on the Smoked Pork pie with mozzarella, red onion, Anaheim chiles and salsa verde. Thankfully, the pizza was absolutely divine and well-worth waiting for! The crust was thin and crisp and we had no difficulty gobbling the whole pie even after all the appetizers. All in all, I’m hoping I just went on a bad day, but the pizza was certainly worth a return trip.
Several years ago when I worked downtown, my co-workers and I used to go out for lunch quite often. They certainly were not the most extravagant lunches, but they were almost always tasty and cheap to boot. There are quite a few spots I don’t get to hit up as often anymore and it just so happens that Slice is one of them. So, when I visited the new-ish Uptown location on Magazine Street not too long ago with Dani and her 3-year-old daughter Posie, I couldn’t help but order the exact same thing I always did…with a few additions, of course.
Once Posie settled down with a chocolate soda, we were able to focus on the menu and order. We started with their BBQ Shrimp served on a split loaf of French bread. Although it wasn’t quite how I remembered it, there were lots of shrimp and the warm, chewy bread was a perfect sop for the tangy, buttery, garlicky sauce.
For our entrees, Dani and I both ordered a slice of pizza with a half salad, one of the best lunch deals ever for under $10. We both opted for a slice of the Four Cheese Margherita pie with fresh and aged Mozzarella, Provolone, Parmesan, diced tomatoes and basil, but Dani got a Caprese Salad while I chose my old Spinach fallback. The pizza was quite good with a crispy, thin crust and perfectly melted cheese…hot out of the oven. Dani liked the flavor of the Caprese with thick slices of fresh mozzarella and tomato stacked and drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (it was her first ever!), but the tomato was sadly mealy.
I got a Spinach Salad that they serve with crumbled walnuts, sun-dried tomatoes and smoked bacon with a bleu cheese vinaigrette dressing. Now I realize the vinaigrette looks kind of gross, but it tastes kind of awesome. Trust me on this one. Plus, the salad is also served with a brie-smeared crostini.
Now I’m quite hungry, because I have not yet eaten lunch, and I’m having difficulty concentrating on writing…(stomach rumbles)…see you Monday!
The Metry-Lady driving the cab screwed up her face and said “Where?” forcing me to tell her, for the second time, that we wanted to go to 3001 Tulane Avenue. She shook her head and turned back towards the steering wheel.
“It’s a pizza joint on Tulane Avenue?”
“Do they have good pizza?”
“We’ve heard good things, but this will be our first time.”
“Okay, whatever you say!”
John and I arrived late in the lunch hour to the brand new, black & white tiled, very clean and even shiny Pizzicare. Only two other customers were dining in that day. We browsed the menu for extras, even though we knew exactly what we wanted due to a delicious-sounding Twitter post touting the Charcuterie Pie.
We started with some Garlic Knots and a Pizzicare Salad made with baby spinach, pancetta, red onion, mushrooms and artichokes with blue cheese dressing. We really enjoyed the dough, nice and crusty, but the knots seemed decidedly un-garlicky and mostly Parmesan. I was disappointed with the salad mainly because instead of offering me some thick, house-made blue cheese dressing (that you can get in almost ANY other restaurant in New Orleans), I was handed a packet of Paul Newman’s. Plus, there was no pancetta to be found, but there was a hefty addition of grated mozzarella.
Though we were both feeling a bit full by this time, we had no difficulty digging into the Charcuterie Pie with Genoa salami, pancetta, sopressata, fresh arugula, fresh mozzarella and garlic oil. It was simply delicious and I made sure to include some of the peppery, bright arugula in every bite…which is no easy feat, let me tell you. By the time we left, there were only two slices left and half a salad. I guess you know now what I had for dinner!
Although last night was a cheat night for me, all I could think about was curling up in a blanket and drinking something hot. I was hungry at dinnertime, but the last thing I wanted to do was brave the horrible weather. When John suggested pizza, I jumped at the opportunity and suggested we get a pie from Café Nino, only a few short blocks away from our apartment. This is my 18th cheat and I am down 47 pounds.
In my humble opinion, I believe Café Nino is the best place to go in New Orleans if you want a delicious, New York-style pizza. Nino Bongiorno, the owner, is at his restaurant almost every day and is pleased to regale you with stories of how to make the perfect pizza. He once confided in me that the path to a perfect pie lies in fresh dough and an excellent sauce. If you have those two ingredients down, your pizzas will be the talk of the town. If you have ever eaten one of Nino’s pies, you will know he’s got the formula down pat.
From the warmth of our apartment, we called Café Nino and ordered a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza and we were told it would be ready in 15 minutes. When ordering pizza from an authentic joint like Nino’s, I love to keep the pie simple. I believe that too many toppings can rob you of the exquisite experience eating a perfect New York-style pizza can create.
When we picked up the pizza, I couldn’t help eyeing the other dishes available that night. I have heard that the Chicken or Eggplant Parmigiana is fantastic and it certainly looked tasty. Apparently, Nino also offers daily specials for less than $10 and every Friday he prepares steamed mussels and a fish special for all those folks observing Lent. He also makes an incredible Philly Cheese Steak that he claims is the “one and only in the city.”
I paid with a check (Café Nino only accepts checks and cash) and we took our steaming hot pie home. Sitting comfortably on our couch, we only devoured two slices each. I absolutely love the savory sauce Nino uses for his pies and the crust is always thin and tasty.
John and I were surprised by how full we felt after only two slices, but that’s Nino’s for you! I realized after inhaling my pizza that I had forgotten a cheat must; I had no dessert! I went into the kitchen and busted out some Hershey’s cocoa powder and whipped up two steaming mugs of hot chocolate, complete with Christmas tree-shaped marshmallows. It was an excellent cheat and enjoyed completely in the warmth and comfort of my own home. It doesn’t get better than that!