There's hope for Leland yet
I fucking love this place. I'll cut to the chase and say that this is not the best pizza reviewed here. I love this place anyway. The space is real big and stupid, not resembling a pizzeria at all. I love this place anyway. There's a formality going on here which I fail to genuinely appreciate. I was hoping Tony's would go the traditional pizzeria route. I may have been praying, I don't know. I knew the space was too big for that purpose, having been to Antonio's in the past, but I still had hope.
The good news is that Tony's is not Antonio's. It's not some generic shit hole serving crappy slices in hell forever. It's a place that very likely serves totally decent Italian-American food that also offers pizza (slices, at that). It's basically a fucking dream. It's like someone shitcanned Antonio's and handed the location over to people that didn't suck dicks for a living. That's basically exactly what happened.
The bad news is that the slice I got wasn't quite what I was expecting. Truth be told I was expecting too much. According to PCF, this place is the result of some serious heavy hitters joining forces: I <3 NY joining forces with Luigi's. I've never eaten at Luigi's, all I know about it is that people said it used to be incredibly good and, according to a friend who worked there, Luigi was Mexican. Is that relevant? I hope not but that's for your racist ass to decide.
I got a fucking slice of pizza:
I sort of hate getting small slices of pizza. Only because I know that a larger slice of pizza doesn't cost the owners much more. We're talking about a matter of cents, or something. That said, this slice wasn't the smallest I've gotten and it was one of the cheapest. So fuck everything I just said. In fact, fuck this entire review.
There is one singular problem with this slice. The crust was far too dry. Overcooked or poor dough formula? I don't know and I'm sick of trying to figure this shit out from afar. Regardless, this was a great slice of pizza. The sauce was great. It was fucking great. The cheese was unassailable. Really the only problem was that the crust was exceptionally dry. It's kind of shocking considering how much regard I have for I <3 NY. Also the last time I went to I <3 NY, the crust was so far from dry that it was terrible. I went there recently and it was fucking sort of shit. Fucking pissed me off. But is wasn't dry.
Maybe I went here with too much expectation. Considering the people running this place I was expecting Tony's to trump all others I've reviewed. But that's kind of unreasonable. They're brand new. Still, they should understand their dough and oven well enough to prepare a better crust than this. Even so, it was quite good. Compared to the place that used to be here, Antonio's, Tony's is fucking light years beyond them. They don't even have any competition in Leland, so they're fucking set. The only thing that gives me pause is the large location and sit-down atmosphere.
Leland is a terrible place, slightly worse than Wilmington. I fucking hate it. If you are ever there I suggest you go to Tony's.
2 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Tony's NY Pizza & Trattoria - $1.99
1107 New Point Blvd. Leland, NC 28451
The best Michaelangelos location is in Carolina Beach. There is no God
Never been here before. Like the other Michaelangelos locations northwards, this location has the same sign, similar decor, same wall ornaments and dispensers, menu, specials, the works. Except I don't think they have the all-you-can-eat lunch special that the one by UNCW offers. However, that special is aneurysm-inducing. It makes no sense to me. It's as if fat kids reinvented Christmas and decided to have it make even less sense than a magical obese furry scooting down billions of chimneys, giving out sack-presents and stealing baked goods. Oh, and Fatty Christmas happens every day.
I wasn't really expecting much when I arrived here. In fact, I had so written off Carolina Beach that I had previously, for the purposes of this blog, decided to ignore the entire area and pretend that pizza didn't exist here. In my defense, Carolina Beach isn't really Wilmington. It will be soon enough though, when the Wilmington Borg feasts upon it and adds it to its fatty outer layers, but that's a tale for a different and terrible day.
Out of fucking nowhere, the weather gods shined upon our section of the world, and I felt like going for a drive. Driving through the hellish innards of Wilmington is akin to Sisyphus' eternal struggle, so I went for a leisurely drive southwards. Spring lasts for exactly 4 days in Wilmington before the terrible, searing, awful heat of summer hits. If there is a perfect time to just leisurely cruise around, this is it.
Upon first glance, I felt like I was looking at your standard Michaelangelos slice. That is to say, a rather basic pizza, vaguely soulless, yet structurally very well-crafted, made from substandard ingredients and recipes:
Fat shitbird that I am, I took a bite before remembering to snap a photo. The slice looks alright for the most part. The rim looks a bit under and floury, and there are a few weirdo craters. Sort of like a zitty pubescent female with an undeveloped understanding of makeup, maybe. I don't know. As shown in this photo, I've added some oregano and crushed red pepper, as is my habit whenever they are made readily available.
The star of the show here is the sauce. This slice has some pretty god damn good sauce. The vaguely-nearby Monkey Junction Michaelangelos may use the same sauce recipe, but their slice was overpowered by a ton of shitty cheese when I went there, so I cannot say for sure. The Carolina Beach sauce was definitely a lot better than the the sauce at the Michaelangelos by UNCW. I also felt that the CB cheese was far above the Monkey Junction location and at least on par with UNCW's. Even Carolina Beach Michaelangelos' crust was better than their brethren (though even here it was clearly the key area which demanded improvement). In every respect this slice at the very least equals the other Michaelangelos locations.
All in all it was a pretty damn good slice of pizza by Wilmington standards, and goddamnit we're talking about Carolina Beach here, which, at the time of day I went, had no other pizza slices for sale fucking anywhere: At the time, this was the only game in town if you wanted a slice of pizza. It's not an outstanding deal at $2.54, but its not shockingly bad either (especially because it's pretty large), plus if you are feeling quite fat, they offer a $4.99+tax small cheese pizza lunch special, or some bullshit. I personally hate the idea of a NY-style joint serving pizzas smaller than 18", but I think even Brooklyn does that now. This is the primary reason that I bemoan our floundering, decrepit economy - even my ever-expanding list of broken bones and other unattended medical issues take second place to the horror of decent pizzerias stooping to such unholy lows as offering personal-size pizzas. It's disgraceful!
The main downside is that the crust, though fairly decent, could be better. I'll just take a moment to bust out my pizza nerd cred and tell these guys to use high gluten flour, for the Pete's sake.
I'm kind of flummoxed and disappointed; I feel like I'm letting my 3 readers down by not blasting this bitch to space like the Russian chimpanzee we all wish it was. Hopefully I'll review some more shitty, gross, mind-fuckingly bad pizza soon, but this shit right here was a pretty good slice!
I woulda eaten another, gladly. In fact, I considered just that.
2 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Michaelangelos Pizza - $2.54
9 South Lake Park Boulevard, Carolina Beach, NC 28428
This was my first time patronizing Vito's Pizza, even though I've lived here for more than ten years. This place is at Wrightsville Beach. I'm down with going to the beach, but I've never associated pizza with beach excursions, so I guess I never even considered going to this place. Growing up going to Jones Beach in New York had me associating the beach more with hotdogs and felonious seagulls than anything else (besides having to walk a literal mile to get from the parking lot to the water). But I can see how a place like Vito's makes sense here, especially with the ever-expanding local beach bar scene. Every year this shithole looks and sounds more like the Jersey Shore. Terrible shit. I guess that explains why they're open until 2:30am Thursday-Saturday.
Not knowing at all what to expect was pretty cool. Going in here, the place had a good layout and a nice vibe and the employees were pretty awesome. The outside has a bunch of stupidly-painted picnic tables too, and that shit was just dandy in my book. This review is already shaping up to be too nice, what the hell? Mental note: curse more.
Fuck all that other shit, here's the slice I was given:
Looks alright at first glance. And it was. The crust was completely decent; the sauce didn't blow me away by any means but it was decent and generally not over- or under-applied. The cheese was pretty good and on the whole, the slice was pretty tasty. On the downside it was a bit small. For $2.50 it's not the best deal, but I give them props for eschewing the common taxation sneak attack and instead building the tax into the advertised price like all real pizzerias should. "I survived [insert shitty pizzeria here] and all I have to show for it are a few pennies, a nickel and a case of mouth herpes" is a t-shirt I'm seriously considering making.
I've heard that Mellow Mushroom is going to open up a new location at Wrightsville, and I don't know if Vito's will survive that. But I hope they do because even though Mellow Mushroom is a pretty awesome beergasm of a place (and will be reviewed shortly), their shit ain't New York. Vito's is. At least to a degree. As a means of legitimizing the rating I'm about to give (not that I need to since I don't give a shit what you think) I felt that, for example, Incredible's slice was bigger and tastier. However, Incredible's slice was also made by a careless, fault-prone hobo while Vito's was made by someone who doesn't hate their life. So that equates to a wash in my book, fuck it.
3 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Vito's Pizza - $2.50
8 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480
A big fucking slice of pizza
I've been to this Incredible Pizza location approximately once before, a number of years ago. This may speaks volumes as I now mention that I successfully went to university like a half mile from this place for an unspecified number of years, and lived probably a tenth of a mile from here for a while, too. When I was living nearby, I was consuming virtually nothing but ramen, pasta, marijuana and hallucinogens, though. Pizza was kind of out of my income bracket, so perhaps it speaks no kind of volume whatsoever. Now that I make decent money for literally or figuratively jerking off, as the case may or may not be, I am free to trek across town to places like this and leave the ramen for my roommate to steal, in a drunken or non-drunken stupor, as the case may or may not be.
The picture above is somewhat of a curiosity in that it does not include a picture of the company's awning, or sign, or whatever. They had one, but it was not lit up and it was dark out. I don't know what the deal was and I'm pretty sure I don't give a shit. I went here not expecting much. Incredible Pizza establishments seem to come and go around here. I don't know if what I just said is a factual statement, but it's the impression I get and that is paramount. My impression also being that it's one of those places like Mellow Mushroom that really seems to depend more upon their toppings than anything else. My reviews tending to be of a plain slice by default, I had my reservations.
Probably before I say anything else it would be best to post a picture of the slice:
This slice is so big they give it to you on two plates. I'm very much okay with this shit right here. Also, I'm also pretty god damn sure this is not how this place used to be. This was reinforced by the fact that the only other dude eating pizza in the place made the exact same observation. This is a huge god damn slice! But, attempting to not be distracted by the enormity of this bastard, I had some very immediate concerns that were soon realized in actuality. Firstly: half this slice is barely thicker than the plates it rests on. I appreciate a thin crust. It is the literal backbone of NY-style pizza. But give me a fucking break, there are limits. This pizza is fairly well beyond those limits. Here's a (fucking terrible) picture I took of the slice's inability to hold up to a simple fold:
The horizontal bit on the right is the angle that the entire slice should have held. The picture is shitty; far shittier than the slice, in fact. Another issue with this slice was that there was a gaping area which was wholly without cheese and almost entirely (I think) without sauce. Here's a fucking close-up:
Pretty unacceptable. If you see the guys at I <3 NY make a pie, they take their god damn time and everything is fucking perfect. That's probably the difference between having people who seem to have a stake in the place making the pizza, and letting college kids make your pies. Shit. That was definitely my Dad's northeast union voice coming out. In any case, that is probably the last bad thing I can say about my slice. And, to be honest, the mistopping of my slice wasn't much of a detraction.
The crust tasted good. More and more, that seems like a rarity around here. As I said before, the slice was also a fucking monster. Their menu indicates the biggest pie they offer is an 18". This shit was cut from a 20"+ pie or my name isn't Shitdick McFuckyoureaders. The cheese was either pretty or very good. The sauce was okay. I don't think there was very much on here, but it didn't negatively affect the slice so it was okay by me. After eating a fair portion of the front of the slice it became holdable via my normal fold method, which was a relief. The slice was quite pricey at $2.70 after tax, but based on the size (and to a degree the overall quality) I'm not sure how terrible this price is, really.
Overall, this slice had it's faults. The last thing I wrote in my notes is that I wanted another, and that really has to count for something. Instead I went to Goodfella's on South College to round out my trip and now I am all ate up with the dumbass as a result because that shit was mostly garbage (stay tuned). I can virtually not factor in the seemingly obscene price due to the bigness of the slice. However, I have to factor in the terrible thinness of the crust, as well as the shoddy workmanship on the topping of the cheese. The question is: how much to subtract? When it comes down to it, I'm forced to give preference to the slice that is best overall, as well as the slice that tastes the best, and the slice that doesn't try to fuck my face with a metric shit ton of shitty cheese because it apparently assumes I'm a morbidly obese American uber-consumer (which I am).
In conclusion, this was a surprisingly good slice. If it were thick enough to hold up to, well, being picked up, and if it were properly topped, it would probably come close to matching Brooklyn and I <3 NY. Being that it is more or less right in between both of those front runners (geographically), it is likely the best pizzeria in the college/midtown area of town. Especially if the Racine/Eastwood Michaelangelo's is now as bad as the one on South College.
Haters gonna hate. BTW they serve beer.
3 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Incredible Pizza - $2.70 4719 New Centre Drive, Ste F, Wilmington, NC 28405
Note: This is a Google Cache copy of the original post. All hail Google.
Another example of a pizzeria with a shitty name
Reel Pizza? Fuck you and your name. Actually just fuck your name. There's a place downtown with 'Reel' in the name, too. Are they associated with eachother? On the one hand I doubt it because of their dissimilarity, on the other, it seems unlikely that two separate businesses would put such a stupid word in their name, hinting at a possible association. Regardless, we can all agree that this pizzeria has a shitty name. I've driven past this place many times on my golf adventures in Hampstead, but today was the first time I went here. I won two bucks off my golfing buddy/chauffeur and traded that money to him in return for a quick stop for a slice of pizza.
I think immediately after taking the slice out of the bag I commented on how shitty it looked. But I guess one shouldn't judge a shitbook by its shitcover. The slice was way better than I expected. It was hot, which is apparently a miracle in and around Wilmington. The cheese was pretty good, the sauce was pretty good and the crust was pretty good. Finding a fault with this pizza is tough. I've tried and I just can't seem to come up with anything besides that it looked sorta shitty. The crust was good; it was well salted, cooked, not overly dry, in all respects it was a good crust. The sauce wasn't very memorable but that's generally a good sign around here. If the sauce is there and noticeable but not overspiced and shitty, I won't complain. The cheese was probably above average.
The guys at this placed seemed pretty cool, unlike you. Looking at the picture of the slice, it apparently took up the whole plate, which is another positive thing to take note of. It is, however, possible that they have very small plates here. Mental note: small plates make food look big. Right now I'm experiencing some difficulty in rating this slice. Based on its location, it should suck. Based on the appearance of the slice, it should suck. Yet I am duty-bound to rate the slice as I tasted it. It was a pretty goddamn good slice.
It was kind of shitty paying $2.43 for a plain slice when a 1-topping+drink is listed for $1.50. Shit can that be right? Fuck it.
2 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Reel Pizza - $2.43 15010 US Highway 17 N, Hampstead, NC 28443
Good pizza in Castle Hayne, what the shit
I've been to this place once before and the slice was alright, kind of mediocre. I decided to go back today because I was driving past it anyway, plus I got this strange card for Xmas called a Frank Card, which allegedly entitled me to a free slice of pizza from Nino's. Well when I got there it turns out you have to buy something to get that free slice. I didn't really give a shit because I was going to get something anyway, but normally I'd take a shit on the floor of such a shyster establishment. Regardless it would be a good deal though - 2 slices for $1.75? That's an even better deal than the shitty buck-slices in NYC.
The pizza was good. Here's a picture:
Let's start with the bad, because that's the most fun. It's got a big old burnt bubble on it! Either they cooked the pie too long to begin with or they cooked the slice too long on reheat. Either way, that's pretty shitty. It didn't bother me a ton, though. It's also a bit more greasy than a lot of places. That's a negative for most people but I'm totally down with a fairly greasy slice. My favorite pies from childhood were always pretty damn greasy. Finally to round out the negatives, this slice is a bit small in my estimation. However, for a buck seventy-five, you can't really complain too much. Come to think of it, it sort of looks like a plain slice of pizza from a Papa John's franchise with substandard Quality Control. And yet it was good!?
The cheese is good, the sauce is good, and the crust, though that rim doesn't look too good in the picture, is probably somewhere in that nebulous realm between good and great. Very thin, yet not floppy. Had a very nice crunch to it and it folded perfectly. The bottom was well cooked, unlike that mutant burn-bubble and the strange rim. I can't really talk shit about the rim because even though it looked a bit overdone, it was more or less what I'd consider the ideal NY texture. It also tasted very good. There was the right amount of salt there and the flour seemed like the high gluten you'd expect from this type of pizza.
The shop itself is pretty nice and quaint. I don't know anything about the history of Nino's but I'm guessing they made pizza in NY before moving down here. Their one fault in this regard, which is excusable when you live in redneck Castle Hayne, is that they're a bit too nice. And they're not even terribly nice by any local standard. It's just that I love pizzerias where the guy handing you your pizza looks as though he's really pissed off that he forgot to spit on your slice.
Thanks for the free slice, guys. It didn't have any effect on your recirc score (which woulda been better if the slice had been cooked less), I swear.