Bye bye Nino's, Hello ...
I guess Nino's is dead. Super bummer. Amore has taken its place and I've been there three times since they opened. The photos pictured here are the ones from my first or second visit but the score and stuff are gonna be based off the third visit. If this doesn't make sense to you, I understand completely. So little makes any sense to me on any given day that I'm generally not sure if I need to shit or change religions.
Scratch that it was just a poop.
As I mentioned, I've been here three times during this review process. I had such a profound pizzasexual love of Nino's that I figured I should give their replacement a fair shake. And I think I have. I say that because the first two visits were fairly rubbish. The people, the service, etc etc were absolutely great. But the pizza was super mediocre. Maybe less than mediocre. It was this thin, floppy, dumb, pan-or-screen-cooked stuff that was bordering on raw on bottom. It was a bummer.
The above picture is not the one I reviewed (the third), it's the first or second. Generally speaking all three have looked pretty good and they're big slices coming in at $2.25. Probably the main flaw of the first two slices was that they weren't cooked enough. Now, a superbly-made pizza, made of the finest ingredients, will not give a shit if it has been cooked to the perfect done-ness. A baller-ass pizza tells you when it's done and if you disagree, it tells you too fuck off to Papa John's elongated rectal cavern carnival.
A mediocre pizza, screen-cooked, under-yeasted and sadly schlopped together is a different story. Such a pizza depends entirely on how well it is cooked, necessarily. All the components are brought together and the only thing left is the heat. You fuck that up and you have a shit pizza. On the other hand if you cook it properly you have a pretty good slice, despite its structural inadequacies (that's what she said).
The third time was the charm at Amore because the slice was pretty fucking tasty. If they cooked their pizzas on-deck and maybe fiddled with their dough formulation slightly, they would be a real god damn serious contender and a worthy successor to the late Nino's. The cheese was good and greasy. The sauce, at least on the last visit, was pretty damn good.
I do, however, think that their takeover of Nino's urbanspoon page is disingenuous to the point of super jerkiness.
3 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Amore on Market - $2.25
2535 Castle Hayne Wilmington, NC 28401
Ze old is new again
For some reason people feel the need to take over failing pizzerias and make new ones in the same location. I could give examples. I could try to explain their reasoning. But I can't. I just don't fucking get it. Do they think their product is so much better? "HOT PIZZA"? Oh man. "PIZZA BY THE SLICE!"? FUCK ARE YOU SERIOUS, I CAN GET THAT?
Wait, I think I got over-enthused for a moment. I'm gonna pour a shot and chillax for a minute and catch you on the flipside.
I acquired this slice for $2.14 after tax. A fairly large slice for the price, so no complaints there. No complaints with the service either, as the guy serving up the slice was relatively genial and he handed me a slice of pizza which is what is supposed to occur. Immediately the slice seemed a bit overdone but that doesn't generally concern me. Some burnt cheese bubbles or a charred crust are not definitively negative factors in my book.
In total the experience was mediocre. I was unimpressed by the cheese. It was neither bad nor good. The sauce was underapplied to the extent that I can't rate it. The crust was fairly good, I thought, yet it was either cooked on a pan or in a weirdo oven. It tasted good but it had a fairly garbage texture. If you've never had enough dicks in your ass to consider the texture of pizza crust, this critique is without merit so please carry on.
I'd describe the bottom of the crust as a smoothskin.
Overall I thought it was just an extremely mediocre affair. If you require pizza in the area I'm not immediately sure if there's a better choice (Amore is surely better than Elizabeth's). As I was eating my slice I immediately wished that I was at the Chinese place next door. I don't care how many rats are in my chow mein. Shit's better than mediocre pizza.
Don't blame me.
4 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Amore on Market - $2.14
3926 Market St Wilmington, NC 28409
The site's been down for a few days. I had no idea, actually. It seems that out of an abundance of caution my host changed some of my passwords or something.
Also, the other day I invented this thing which I call the 'Pizza Luge.' Take a cold slice of pizza (hot might work, I don't know), take a bite off the front of it, fold it up and hold it up to your mouth. Have someone pour a shot down the pizza. You could probably do it yourself if you are not already entirely blotto. Now go, loyal readers. Go get damn stinking drunk.
Gas Station Greasebomb
A sub shop attached to a gas station. Since this combo seems to work for numerous Subway locations I'll give this joint a chance. Taking over from Big D’s Philly Cheese on Gordon Road is On The Road Sub Shop. The reason they get a mention here is because they serve pizza as well as subs and for a buck fifty before tax I figured it was worth swinging by since I was in the area.
These guys hail from Olean, NY, which is sorta in between Canada and Pennsylvania rather than in New York. I've never been to Canada but the pizza in PA is fucking consistently garbage. It might be easy to assume On The Side will be serving up NY-style pizza, being they're sorta from New York. However, the further you get from NYC, the worse pizza gets. There is an oasis here and there which radiates quality pizza independently of the city, that's true. But Buffalo is not one of them and I'd wager that Olean isn't either.
Here we have the slice. For a buck-fifty, the size was good if not impressive. The crust didn't look too offensive, at first glance, but the cheese and sauce seemed reasonably nightmarish. The first bite sang one malevolent note to me: School Pizza. I don't know if that's a legitimate genre of pizza but we all know what it means. I don't even know if there are regional differences between school pizza; there probably are. The important, binding characteristics are the shoddiness and the charm. The school pizza I'm born out of is that of a pasty, heavy sauce; a greasy, tasteless cheese and a heavy, greasy crust as seen below:
My only assumption is that there is so much oil on the bottom of their pans that the dough sort of deep fries itself. The whole product is weird but not without its merits considering the nostalgia factor.
I keep trying to forget that this place is a couple minutes away from Brooklyn Pizza and remember that it's a gas station sandwich shop. On the one hand, if you are driving down I-40 and pull off onto Gordon Road to get some gas, this place might be a fucking godsend. Personally if I were on a road trip and the place I was getting my gas housed this place which sells cheesy saucy grease-bombs for $1.60 after tax I would jizz in my pants instantaneously. An excellent gas station find. On the flipside, if you live nearby, then buying pizza from here instead of from Brooklyn is the absolute apex of stupidity. Still, give it a whirl; the people seem nice. Maybe their other food is great.
Their pizza just isn't, unless you're looking for a trip down school pizza memory lane.
School pizza can hit the spot.
6 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Times Square Pizza - $1.60
6648 Gordon Road, Wilmington, NC 28411
Fuck a goddamn duck. Why do people keep putting pizzerias in this location? Do they not know of the vengeful pizza curse that will inevitably buttfuck them? First you had Krazy, a goddamn institution of terribleness which closed down at least 49,000 years ago. Then Goodfellas comes along and I barely know what the fuck to say about that place. I gave them more chances than I should have, for personal reasons. They occasionally churned out really good pizzas, but only when they happened to be using quality ingredients (which was rarely). You have to use good products. It's pretty fucking simple.
Yes, I have heard the popular refrain that, "it's like pizza; even if it's bad it's still good." WELL FUCK YOU. Honestly, just fuck you. That's like Paula Deen saying that, "it's like butter, I'm a dumb fat shitty bitch." I don't want to fucking hear that shit. I just hate this concept of pizza being a bankrupt foodstuff which doesn't really matter and that drawing distinctions between pizzas makes me a faggot. No, what makes me a faggot is all the dick I suck, I'll have you know.
Along this line of thought, of how to define pizzas and how to suck dick, let me just say that Times Square is all fucking tooth in the blowjob arena and as far as pizzas go it's just a whole lotta fucking god damn I don't know what. But it's bad. And they air their pies out like dirty laundry. Health code violation, anyone?
I was looking forward to this place opening up since I live nearby, I went to Goodfellas a lot (to play PacMan) and I'm a reformed quasi-Rack'mite. The first sign of trouble was when I heard they were gonna cook their pizzas on some kind fancyfuck of a pan and not use flour ... just ... oil ... I'll have you know that I hate ellipses, but I really felt the need to belabor the point that I'm confused as fuck right now. Shit's weird, I'm scared and confused, I haven't even eaten happytime mushrooms in over a year, nothing makes sense, help me, I'm drowning in stupidity.
Also I'm drowning in bad, bad, bad, rubbery, low-fat, sad-as-fuck cheese. I'm drowning in sauce that tastes like it came straight out of a bad, bad, bad jar of generic 'pizza sauce.' And then there's the crust that is underdone, greasy, silly, full of what-the-fucks and man let's go back to the cheese for a second because it's fuckin' burnt too.
Fucking recap: Doughy, underdone crust cooked on a pan lined with grease. Very bad and very burnt cheese-like rubber atop a layer of jarred idiot sauce. Are you with me in standing up and saying 'THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND, DUDE"?
It reminds me of a trip to the food store the other day. This car was in the middle of the lanes, blocking me. I flipped this car off because the car was where it shouldn't be. The numbskull in the car didn't really like me flipping his car off so he waited for me at the front of the store and confronted me. I really just wanted to buy some yogurt so I tried to walk past him and he shoved me! I gave him a little charge and I guess he realized that a crazed 200-pound pile of who-knows-what might threaten his sixty-year-old bones so he backed away and said, "I better not see you around here again," (what is this the old fucking west?), to which I responded with a followup double-bird flipping and a crazy head-shake accompanied by a noise that sounded like this: "WHHAARRRLRRHHGGHHLEERRAHH."
What I'm trying to say is, and this is about to get existential: the old man and the Times Square slice are the same. They're self important and they're really bad at whatever they're trying to do. They're a dichotomy of boldness and weakness. They're like the baby that cries a lot only to be tossed unemotionally into the nearest bin.
Everyone, into the bin!
I have no more words.
6 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Times Square Pizza - $2.50 + tax
417 South College Road, Wilmington, NC 28403
Say gang, what say you do my work for me: Is Lucianos now called Amore on Market? I'm too lazy to drive over there right now. Likewise, is Wrightsboro Nino's now called Amore Pizza and Pasta? If so, I'm confused as shit. Why is Nino's always involved in some kind of name clusterfuck? Are these places, in anything besides name, new? Did the respective owners both just happen to start taking remedial Italian at the same time and learned the world 'amore' and figured 'Yeah, see, the problem with my business is definitely the name, see, and amore means love, see, they'll love us after this idea rivoluzionaria'? Maybe they're both owned by the same people now and no one taught the owner the concept of branding. The world may never know because I don't care enough to definitively find out.
Great Space, Great Pizza, Great Price ... Leland
I love the layout of this place. It's small and quaint, kind of an upscale version of a traditional NYC street pizzeria. There's limited seating (only two 4-tops that I could see) and half the seating is a large bench along the right-side wall so you're probably going to be sitting sorta next to a random hobo. I like that. I love to pop a squo next to people at bars to make em nervous, ya see. I sidle up next to 'em and give 'em the eye, ya know. Like I'm sayin', "hey, old timer, I see ya. I do. And I wanna do ya." Then I lick my lips. Knocks 'em out every time.
They also have a few stools at a counter you can sit at. This is like a fucking Chef's table so sit here if you can - and if you don't have any friends - and if you want to watch your food get made. You get a bird's eye view of the entire kitchen operation. Which was pretty cool. I mean they were pretty slow so it was just a few middle-aged Italian-y looking guys getting orders ready, slinging pizza and doing busywork, but the ability to see your food being made in front of you is kind of nebulously invaluable. Especially if you've ever seen Waiting or Kitchen Nightmares.
As per my habit, I added crushed red pepper and oregano to my slice. So if you are a nancy who doesn't like spices or spiciness, do not be afraid of the above picture, dear lad. Size-wise, it's not a really big slice of pizza. It kind of reminds me of the slices you will get in-shop at Brooklyn. Also, like Brooklyn, this slice clocks in around two bucks which is a steal. As I think you can see from this picture, it was also made with some care. As I said, business was slow when I was there and they also employ the glass-display-case-of-pizza thing where pies are left out and then slices are re-fired as needed. Often, having display pies, it seems, means you are going to get pies made with some fucking integrity and love rather than some weird discs of cheese and terror, mashingly sliced up by some raging, coked-out, half-drunk and half-hungover cook in the back. I'm looking at you, Slice of Life.
The crust on this slice was alright. I'm not head-over-heals in love with it or anything but it was definitely above passable. Hell, it being properly-salted and crispy puts it above most local places. But it kind of struck me as tasting a little yeasty and all-purpose-floury. I'm grasping at straws here for something to complain about, don't mind me. The cheese was very good, whatever they used. Probably Grande, but fuck me I don't really know anything. Also, they used a lot of it. It might not seem like it from the picture, but they did. Often, as you may know, I rail against pizzerias for using too much cheese. But that is only when they use a lot of bad cheese. This was good cheese. It was fatty and greasy and lovely. The sauce was barely discernible, which is fine, if not perfect. You don't want sloppy sauce on a pizza. I'm looking at you, Avanti.
Overall it was a very well-balanced slice, and cheap. I know it's funnier when I'm blacked-out on a fifth of whiskey ranting about really terrible pizza (I'm looking at you, every one of you), but this pizza was pretty damn good.
Also, Falcone's, you guys need a website so I can link to it. Get in touch, I'd take partial payment in store credit. My brother's birthday is coming up in a month and this shit is real, I'm on a boat.
Oh spacecocks, don't tell me this place is turning into Slice of Life
Today doth mark the second birthday of this here blog. It's also the first time I've posted in about two months. I'm sorry about that. There's just not much pizza stuff going on in town. Well, there wasn't; now there's a new Pizzetta's location, Falcone's (reviewed shortly) and soon the old Goodfellas location will become Times Square Pizza, according to Paul Stephen of Star News/Port City Foodies. By the way, is there any good pizza near Times Square in NYC? I've never had any.
I would also like to take a second to beg you to vote for PCF in Encore's 'Best of Blog' thing. Naturally, I would ask that you vote for me, but I have an aversion to such things (hence why I didn't beg for nomination votes). In any case, please vote for PCF and not the blog where girls talk about not eating certain ingredients or the one where some girl chatters to herself every day (she won last year, super cool). PCF is a blog that deals with local shit. It's not just someone learning to type on the internet, regurgitating links she's clicked. But I digress.
Aww yiss. More awesome pizza in Leland, right? My Oleander Pizzetta's re-review has them ranked them near the top of the list, so word of a new location in Leland was great to hear. Me and Leland have a history. I lived there, worked nearby, golfed there many-a-time, fought the police, cursed my luck, transmogrified, space aliens ... Leland is just the place to be nowadays. You can tell that even moreso by the weird space age Lowes next door to Pizzetta's. If the design of that place is the future of food stores I don't know what I'll do. I'll probably hook a tube up from my ass to my mouth and just re-ingest my turds for sustenance because that place was scarier than a rapey dolphin cock.
Now that I got that off my chest let's get down to the pizza. It should be good. It's Pizzetta's, right? Everyone is sucking Pizzetta's dick. It's gonna be good, I know it.
Well. That definitely resembles a pizza in a number of ways. Let's give this puppy a chance. Stay cool. It's gonna be alright. Try to forget about the ludicrously overpriced draft beer you ordered because you are a fucking dumbass. Alright. Back to the pizza. Let us scrom a bite. Okay, a bit saucy, tastes alright but I'm having flashbacks of my first Pizzetta's review. Let's have a taste of the sauce itself. Ah, a good sauce. And the cheese, yes the cheese is also good. The crust, a bite or two from the rim. Pretty good. (Can you picture how I eat pizza when I review it? It's a freakshow). Let us continue eating this slice. It's a bit heavy, dense. The large amount of cheese and sauce kind of overpowering what, at first, seems like a decent crust. And at first it's not such a big deal because the sauce and the cheese are good.
But there is something weird going on with the crust. The bottom of the crust. Yes, I picked off the bottom part of the crust and tasted it individually. It left some weird film of gross-taste on my tongue. I even smelled the bottom of this slice (picture that, too). It was really weird, I don't know what it was. It tasted like cleaner but that can't be it, right? Fuck me I ate this shit yesterday and as I'm writing this I'm tasting this poop on my tongue all over again. My best guess, based on zero knowledge and the fact that the bottom crust was mysteriously greasy, I would say that it was the taste of burnt oil.
Burnt oil is the pits, man. It also makes no sense for the bottom of a pizza to be greasy, as this one was. You make a pizza, you slide it off a wooden peel into an oven, you pull it out with a metal peel and you slice it. Why is the bottom of the pie greasy? Using some kind of a screen? Beyond that, are they using extra virgin olive oil or some other shit that burns at a low temperature? Because it made the pizza taste foul. You ever watch a cooking show and they say something is 'cloyingly sweet'? Well this was 'cloyingly foul'.
I'm not rating this one yet. They've been open about a week and I guess I'll give em another chance. Foul pizza + bar with overpriced beer = Slice of Life. Guys, I know it seems like a good business model, but so did 2 Guys Grill until they forgot why they succeeded in the first place. Then they started dying off and getting sued and whatever the fuck else is going on with them.
Also the location is fucking horrific. I mean, the restaurant was jam-packed (probably because they just opened) but that shopping center is a weird clusterfuck of idiocy and it's beyond out-of-the-way and hidden, even for the goddamn hillbillies in Leland.
?? recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Pizzetta's- $2.50 before tax 1144 E. Cutlar Crossing, Leland, NC 28451
Loyal reader Heidi sent this monstrosity in. I have to guess that it is from ...motherfucking drumroll... Harris Teeter Oleander. Furthermore, I guess that Heidi had a myocardial infarction after eating this slice so we will probably never know whether or not I am correct. RIP Heidi.
Never shall I have a first born, for I shall surely love this place more than ... it
At first you might look at this pizza and say, "fuck me that slice is small and it's half bubble, fuck that." But check this out, this slice only costs a buck. Though this slice was small, it was abnormally good. Though there is clearly oregano on there, I didn't do it. If you've read my other reviews, you know I love oregano and apply it liberally. Beyond that, the cheese was just damn excellent. I don't know what they use but my first guess was Grande, which is a great cheese for a dollar slice. The sauce was lightly applied and therefore nondescript but also inoffensive.
Then we come to the issue of the crust. On the one hand, it was not exactly my type of crust - it was too thin and insubstantial. On the other hand, it was cooked exceptionally well, tasted fine, and hardly withstands any legitimate complaints. You might notice and be offended by the bubble in the middle of the slice. I can understand that but I grew up with bubble pizza, love that shit, and refuse to pander to your silliness.
In the above picture you can see the bottom of the slice. There is something vaguely Neapolitan about it. Yet after seeing the complete and final product it kind of reminds me more of some unleavened Jewish bread. I don't really mean this in a bad way because I was truly floored by this pizza. Though for me a slice is often made or broken by the crust, this slice really impressed me with its cheese. The crust was more than passable and the sauce was barely there but the cheese shone through like a motherfucker.
But then I went back again. I'll be honest when I say that I love this place. I love their dollar slices (they far outpace any dollar slice you will find in NYC and kill many slices that are north of $2.50 locally), love their wings, their drink prices, their location, their staff, their outdoor bar, just about everything. When I remember how terrible Fat Tony's was at this exact location, my heart is so warm that hobos flock to it for warmth.
However, on my second visit, my slice of pizza was merely 'pretty good.'
My second slice was cheese-heavy and it lacked oregano. The slice itself was larger but the crust resembled a more typical NY crust. I had some weird fascination with their thin (almost cracker-like) crust which I had had before, so this annoyed me. Though the sauce was more liberally applied, it remained inoffensive to the point that I didn't make note of it. The cheese was really the main culprit. Whereas the first slice's cheese was great, this one seemed too-heavily applied and, more importantly, of inferior quality.
This could be chalked up to a mozzarella run to Lowes due to low stock and desperation. Or maybe they're realizing that they shouldn't be using good cheese on dollar slices. Either way, I, Pete, your pizza reviewer, refuse to rate this slice just yet. Partially because I've had both a great slice and a mediocre slice and don't know where I stand and partially because I know I'm going back. Because I love this place so I "might as well." Aw fuck I feel dirty for even saying that.
Edit: Okay I'm giving this place 3 recircs. That's pretty fucking good for a dollar slice.
3 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)
Might as Well Bar and Grill - $1.00 + tax