Friday, August 21, 2015

Searching for the Best Grandma Ever: Pie #5, Atomic Wings

Pizza #5 in our search for #thebestgrandmaever came from Atomic Wings, a pizza and wings joint. We ordered a traditional Grandma Pizza and their signature wings, because when in Rome...
The delivery was pretty quick and the pizza looked delightful. The round pie had fresh basil, chunky tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, garlic...mmmm.

I must admit that I was a bit skeptical about this pizza. How would a place that focuses on chicken wings fare with a Grandma pie?

Well, happily I can say that it did very well. The pizza not only looked good, it tasted terrific. The crust was the perfect combination of crispy, cracker-like end crust and a thin but sturdy bottom. The sauce was slightly sweet, but with a garlicky kick that I found pleasant, but Chris thought it bordered a bit on the heavy side. The slices were neither greasy nor wet. I probably could have eaten the whole pie by myself, it was so light and fresh tasting. I have nothing bad to say.

Yes, one of the top contenders so far is a chicken wing place. Who knew? Atomic, you blew us away and stand in line with Krispy Pizza.

Pizza #5: Atomic Wings
Sauce: A
Crust: A
Presentation: A+
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A
Grandma-style: A-

So, for Grandma Pie #5, Atomic Wings' Grandma gets an overall A!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Searching for the Best Grandma Ever: Pie #4, Presto's

For Pizza #4 in our search for #thebestgrandmaever we decided to skip delivery, and instead do carry out. We ordered a Grandma Pizza from Presto's Restaurant after discovering their take-out only pizza menu as we were walking by one evening.

We placed our order and had a drink at a nearby bar while we waited for the pizza. About 40 minutes later, we picked up the $15 pie and headed home, just a few blocks away. The garlic and tomatoes wafted out of the box as we walked. It smelled heavenly. Mmmmm!

When we opened the box, we found a square, very rustic-looking pie. It definitely seemed heavier on the cheese than our previous pies, but we were excited to try it because it smelled so good.
The slices were cut a bit oddly, and I definitely couldn't get through my second piece. It was surprisingly very filling even though it had a thin, crispy-crunchy crust. Also, the crust seemed to be made of or dusted with cornmeal as it had a yellowish hue. The sauce was garlicky, as we figured from our walk home, but really bright and flavorful. (The kind of sauce you want to dip things in.) It was a bit greasy though, due either to an abundance of olive oil or cheese -- we couldn't tell. There didn't seem to be any crushed tomato or fresh basil and mozzarella so we're not sure if this is really a true Grandma pie. It almost seemed more like a bar pie (cheese and sauce), but it tasted good, either way.

But it was not #thebestgrandmaever, so our search continues for the perfect Grandma. Hopefully we'll find her soon! (In the meantime, all this research is quite fun!)

Pizza #4: Presto's
Sauce: A
Crust: A
Presentation: A-
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A
Grandma-style: C-

So, for Grandma Pie #4, Presto's Grandma gets an overall B.


Friday, August 7, 2015

Searching for The Best Grandma Ever: Pie #3, Stella's


Pizza #3 in our search for #thebestgrandmaever was from a local spot with a great selection of brick-oven pies. We ordered a Stella's "Grandma Pizza" for delivery. There was a choice between regular and Sicilian crust, but we decided to go the regular route for our first try.

The pizza arrived quickly and was so large it was nearly bursting out of the sides of the box. It wasn't as pretty as the first two Grandmas we tried, but it smelled heavenly.

Right away, we could tell it was going to be a saucy slice, but the sauce was really tasty so we were happy to have a lot of it. It had a hint of something I couldn't quite place but thought was either cinnamon or tarragon or something sweetish? Chris thought it was maybe the crust that tasted sweet and it was definitely more sweet than garlicky. However, the crust was not crispy at all. Maybe because we got the normal version and not the Sicilian, but it was just a typical pizza crust, not the cracker-crisp kind of a true Grandma.
The salty mozzarella cheese was under the sauce as it should be, and there was a heavy dose of grated Romano on top -- maybe a bit too much as it made the sauce seem grainy and powdery in bites. The basil was plentiful, but it looked like it was cooked, which made it that unattractive dark green instead of the fresh-basil green. Still, it was delightful the next day for breakfast. Overall, it was a solid tasting pizza. But, it was not a traditional Grandma crust and I would have liked less Romano and less wilty basil, so it loses a few points.

Pizza #3: Stella's
Sauce: A
Crust: C
Presentation: C
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A
Grandma-style: B

So, for Grandma Pie #3, we give Stella's Grandma Pizza an overall B-.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Searching for The Best Grandma Ever: Pie #2, Two Boots

Friday Night Pizza Night, and the search for #thebestgrandmaever continues.

This time around, we ordered the "Grandma Bess' from our local Two Boots spot. Two Boots has always been a favorite of mine. Their pizzas are inventive and tasty, and the ingredients are top notch. Each pie is named after a celebrity or notable. Grandma Bess is named for the company's owner's grandmother. In the past, I've been partial to the "Earth Mother" a vegan pie named in honor of Bette Midler for her efforts to save the community gardens of NYC's Lower East Side back in the 70s.

The Grandma Bess arrived quickly and it was beautiful -- and for $25, it ought to be.

However, we were a little disappointed. The pizza was delicious, but it had a wet texture that made it less enjoyable to eat. (Maybe because it was delivery and not fresh out of the oven when we ate it?) It had a lovely, fresh, homemade flavor and the light layer of San Marzano tomatoes, a tasty combination of Mozzarella and Parmigiano, and the garlicky thin Sicilian-style crust was fabulously elegant. I could imagine serving it happily at a dinner party with a bottle or two of rosé -- but we soon discovered that any crispness in the crust was becoming soggy by the minute. Wet pizza is no fun. The Grandma Bess is a very traditional Grandma pie -- it had a homemade, heftiness to it and the flavors were clean and bright. It's exactly what you'd think a Grandma Bess would make you for dinner. We were just sorry it was so soggy, and plan to get it to stay next time to see if we get better results. Live and learn, I guess.

Pizza #2: Two Boots
Sauce: A
Crust: C+
Presentation: A+
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: C-
Grandma-style: A

So, for Grandma Pie #2, we give Two Boots' Grandma Bess an overall B. 


Friday, July 24, 2015

Searching for The Best Grandma Ever: Pie #1, Krispy Pizza

There's nothing like a Grandma for dinner.

Chris and I remember our three dearly departed grandmothers and their delicious cookery fondly, and we both cherish our visits with his Italian grandmother who knows her way around a good antipasto plate and is as feisty as ever. But this post is not about that kind of Grandma. Though grandmothers are indeed as sweet as pie, I am talking about the Grandma of all Grandmas: The Grandma Pizza Pie.

As of this moment, Chris and I are embarking on a quest: We are in search of the best Grandma pies in our new neighborhood. We fell in love with Grandma-style pizza a couple of years ago and have been looking for the ultimate Grandma ever since. And since Friday at Chez Gourmess is Pizza Night, we will devote the next dozen Fridays or so to our search for the ultimate Grandma pizza. We're searching for #thebestgrandmaever.

If you're not familiar with a Grandma Pie, also known as Nonna Pizza, I'll describe it by saying that a Grandma slice is crispier and less heavy than a regular cheese slice, but thinner and less dense than a Sicilian-style pie. Although, like a Sicilian, a Grandma is usually square-shaped. The crust is unique in that it is crisped--almost fried--with olive oil. The dough has a low profile and the outer crust is nearly hollow and perfectly crunchy, like a puffed cracker. On top of the crispy bottom crust you have a layer of fresh mozzarella cheese, then a heavy layer of homemade tomato sauce (usually nothing more than crushed tomatoes), a sprinkling of fresh basil and usually a bit more cheese. Sauce and crust are king, er queen when it comes to a good Grandma slice, and they will either make or break the experience.

When we moved to Jersey City, NJ, a few months ago we were delighted to see that there were several pizza spots within walking and/or delivery distance, boasting Grandma pies on their menus. So, we've decided to try them all. We're beginning with the "Grandma Pizza" from Krispy Pizza, a nearby pizza joint whose motto: "If it's not Krispy it's not Pizza" seemed like a good sign of things to come.
We ordered online from and the delivery was quick and seamless. They will even send a text when your pizza is on its way. Also, as a marketer, I give them an A+ for branding. And the pizza? It was a winner. It had a tangy tomato sauce, super fresh basil and a light but crispy (krispy!) crust, plus a bonus sprinkle of grated Romano cheese on each slice. Delightful!
Pizza #1: Krispy Pizza
Sauce: A
Crust: A
Presentation: A+
Next Day/Cold Pizza test: A
Grandma-style: A

So, for Grandma Pie #1, we give Krispy's Grandma Pizza an overall, solid A. Not a bad start to our quest. Hooray for Grandma!