Tag Archives: pizza

Sal’s Pizzeria & Pasta House: 6582 Gateway Ave Sarasota, FL

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saladsals pizzaEither I’ve lived in Florida for long enough that I’ve forgotten what real NY pizza tastes like, or I just found a GREAT place for a slice here! Given that it’s still less than 2 years since my big relocation, and factoring in the total number of slices I ate while living in NYC for 5 years, I’m pretty sure that I can still consider myself a fair pizza critic, and this passed with flying colors. This is not a gourmet, fancy, brick-oven slice, this is a true, NY style, fold-over, crispy crusted, melty cheese slice. Just a good, no-frills, plain, classic cheese slice- and exactly what I wanted.

The salad was nothing particularly exciting, but did include a fresh veggies (carrots, lettuce, tomatoes)  and olive slices, and my side of blue cheese dressing was above average with decent sized chunks.

For $4.99 to get a slice of pizza, a soda and a salad for a quick lunch was a great deal.

I will absolutely be back! Thanks Sal’s!

UPDATE August 1 , 2017!

I’ve been continuing to go to Sal’s whenever I’m in the area for the last few years and was SO excited to find out that they are now making cauliflower crust pizza. It’s a real pain in the ass to make at home, and I don’t have a pizza oven to really give it the perfect texture. Well, this did NOT disappoint. At around $13 for a small/personal size, I wasn’t even able to finish half on my own so I would say, for the amount of effort that has to go into making it, it is WELL worth the price.

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Solorzano Bros Pizza, 3604 Webber St, Sarasota, FL

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As a New Yorker who moved to Sarasota a year ago, I’m constantly on a quest to find pizza that comes close to what I know and love. Most pizza places around here, to put it bluntly, really suck. A few months ago, I found G’s Pizza (https://bigforkinmouth.com/2012/07/25/gs-pizzaria-7119-s-tamiami-trail-sarasota-fl/) and have been pretty happy to satisfy a craving there when the need strikes. It’s very close to work which is great, but it’s pretty far from where I live- and we are definitely NOT in their delivery zone. I think it was my review of G’s which prompted the owner of Solorzano’s to email me suggesting that I give them a try. Well, a pizza craving hit hard yesterday so Gabriel and I headed over to their Webber St. location which is less than 10 minutes from our house.

When we arrived, we found that their choice of slices was limited to plain or pepperoni only- apparently they’d had a busy day already and sold out of everything else. The boy behind the counter told us he’d be happy to make us slices of whatever we wanted anyway, which we were happy to hear. The very reasonable $6 lunch special I ordered included any slice, a house salad, a drink and 2 garlic knots. (Well, I’m actually not entirely sure that it normally includes the garlic knots or if that was something he threw in after I mentioned that I’m a food blogger. Either way, nice touch.)  I ordered artichoke and mushrooms for my slice of pizza and sat down to wait for my meal. A few moments later, a lovely salad with perfectly ripe, red, tomato slices, red onions, fresh cucumbers, romaine lettuce and a great balsamic dressing came out, along with my slice and a couple of huge garlic knots.

Everything looked awesome and I was ready to dive in. The salad was a generous portion of fresh and colorful veggies, and the slice looked VERY New York. My first bite was promising. Yes! The cheese was full of flavor, hot and bubbly and the sauce was slightly sweet and the right amount. My only gripe was the crust. The texture and taste were spot-on, but it was just slightly too thick for me. I personally like a good, thin, fold-over-able NY style crust over one that’s really bread-y.  Even so, this is pretty damn close to what I want in a slice, and I will definitely give it my stamp of approval. The garlic knots were really oversized compared to the typical NY ones, and they tasted great. Crusty outside and doughy/chewy inside. They could have used a little more garlic, but I’m admittedly a garlic freak. I am very curious to go back to try the other types of pizza- there were SO many appealing choices, like ‘Farmer’s Market made with fresh local produce, the ‘Sinatra’, a white pie with fresh tomato slices and basil, as well as the ‘Margarita’ with fresh basil and mozzarella. I’d also like to try the eggplant parmesan at some point.

The setting itself was very authentic and made me feel like I was back up north. I liked the Rat Pack music playing on the speakers and thought it added a cute touch to the old time-y Italian feel. There are plenty of tables outside which I would have enjoyed except that it happened to be a very windy day. We decided to sit atop the red stools inside and were comfortable there. We thought it was interesting that there’s another supposedly authentic NY pizza shop in the same plaza, and after seeing 4 stars on Yelp figured that now we’re gonna have to try that one too. That said, I am quite sure our next delivery order will be from Solorzano’s regardless. I’m very happy to be able to throw away the delivery menus I’ve collected and rejected so far and replace the subpar choices near me with the very good Solorzano Bros. instead. Bravo! We will be back!

Via Napoli: Italy Pavilion at Epcot World Showcase, Orlando, FL

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My honey and I went to Epcot to celebrate New Year‘s on January 1st. We did not expect to have good food there. We did not even really expect to have halfway decent food there. Imagine our total surprise when we ended up having an outstanding meal. WHAT? Amazing pizza, delicious bread, a great salad AND some of the best tiramisu I’ve ever had? WOW. I am still a bit in shock.

I had read reviews of Via Napoli– a lot of people rave about it. It’s the newest restaurant in the Epcot World Showcase and should have been impossible to get into. I read that the pizza in the take out stand in the Italy pavilion was absolutely NOT the same as what they serve in the restaurant and that it was worth the wait if possible to get a table. As luck would have it, we waited in line for maybe  a total of 10 minutes before a lovely indoor/outdoor (right on the edge of the outdoor section) table for 2 opened up.

A very friendly waiter straight from Italy came over to greet us and take our order. We joked with him about the irony of moving to the U.S. from Italy to work in a fake Italy. He explained that it was a great job where he had lots of friends who were also transplanted here from Italy to work there, and that he really loved being close to home in a sense, even though he was so far away. He also told us that he thought very highly of the food they served and that he felt it was quite authentic.

After a glass of wine and some delicious fresh bread and excellent olive oil, we ordered a salad and a pizza with artichokes, truffle oil and fontina. The salad was quite lovely with marinated mushrooms, green olives, plenty of fresh veggies and a balsamic dressing. The pizza was, dare I say, AMAZING. The crust was chewy, crisp and pretttttttty perfect and the toppings were perfectly proportioned. We polished it off so quickly and sort of regretted getting the tiny sized one even though it really was plenty for a meal along with the salad.  It also, as we came to realize, left enough room to share a wonderful tiramisu for dessert. I also had a fantastic cappuccino, complete with a delightful heart of foam on top.

The meal was not cheap, as really nothing at a Disney park is, or is expected to be. You are paying for the experience of it as much as for the food itself, but this time, I would actually say it really is worth every penny. I doubt I’ll be back at Epcot before I have a kid of my own to bring with me, but if YOU ever go, I would STRONGLY encourage you to pay a visit to Via Napoli. Total winner.

G’s Pizzaria: 7119 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL

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This is another one of those “I am a NY pizza snob” type posts where I go to a restaurant to try a slice from a place that claims to be owned by a NYer. I’m always pretty skeptical when I go on these little adventures but am willing to give it a fair shot. When I first walked in and found out the the owner is actually from WAY upstate NY and not the city, I got pretty worried.

I sat down and ordered a plain slice and a side salad with blue cheese dressing on the side. The salad came out and (good first impression) was NOT iceberg lettuce! It was a mesclun mix with beautiful, thick, red tomato slices, black olives, onions and fresh mushrooms on top. The dressing was pretty darn good too. So far, so good.

A few minutes later, the owner brought my slice over, piping hot from the oven and looking an awful lot like a NY slice. BIG, flat, bubbly top, and the right ratio of cheese to sauce to crust. Hmmmm. Could it be? I took a bite. WOW. Ok. I am impressed. This IS a NY slice after all. Is it the best slice ever? Well, no, but let’s be realistic. The truth is that the classic NY slice has a lot to do with the water there, and no one outside of NYC will really ever be able to duplicate that. But this was definitely the closest to NY I’ve had since I moved here a few months ago. Ah. Good enough to evoke nostalgia. The crust was the right mix of crunchy and chewy, the flavor of the sauce was spot-on; not too sweet, the right amount, and the cheese was exactly right. I added my sprinkling of oregano and parmesan- which was on the table like it should be, and it made for a VERY satisfying lunch. BRAVO to you G’s! Bonus that it’s about 1/4 mile from where I work. I will absolutely be back. YAY!

 

Pizza Mia: 14435 SR 70, Bradenton, FL

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As a pizza loving NYer, I was a little hesitant to place an order for delivery with Pizza Mia tonight. It’s been rough finding a decent slice here so far, and I doubted that tonight’s meal would be any different than the other fails thus far. It was, however, pouring rain, 8:30pm, and my boyfriend and I had both just gotten home from work- too hungry and tired to think about cooking or going out.

Having seen a post on Facebook a few nights ago about Pizza Mia and the fact that they deliver in this area, we decided we might as well give it a shot. We had ingredients to make salads to go along with our pie, so we went ahead and called in our order after trying to place it through their online ordering system which did not work properly.

We ordered a small pie; half cheese/sauce and half veggie deluxe with meatballs. The veggie deluxe included onions, green peppers, artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach. After printing out a $3 coupon from their website, the order came to around $15.00- quite reasonable in my opinion. 30 minutes later we heard a knock at the door and were pretty psyched that even in the torrential rain, the delivery time was that quick- and that the driver easily found our somewhat hard to find front door around the back of the building we live in. We gave him a $20 and sat down to eat.

Though it wasn’t exactly hot anymore, it was still mostly warm and we were hungry enough that we didn’t really care. I took my first bite. WOW! What a totally pleasant surprise. This is not Florida pizza! This is actually pretty NY-y! How exciting. We will definitely be repeat customers. Thanks Pizza Mia!

 

Michelangelo Pizza & Italian: 11517 Palmbrush Trail, Bradenton, FL

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As a native NYer, I have been avoiding pizza since I moved to Florida for fear that a food so near and dear to my heart would be so poorly represented that it bordered on criminal. A few people I know have strongly recommended a couple of places so I have begun my sampling process- one slice of plain cheese pizza. Today was my first stop, Michelangelo’s in the Summerfield Plaza at Lakewood Ranch. When I pulled up, it was packed with people eating and picking up their orders, and the very busy employees behind the counter had the crowd control totally under control. So far, pretty New Yorky indeed.

The first bummer was that I couldn’t just order a slice at the counter and then go sit down to eat it. No, this is to-go or table service only. Womp womp. Well, ok. I decided to sit and order my one plain slice and a glass of water. It took much longer than I would have guessed- but I wrote it off to the crowded tables and the fact that I was only going to be paying a comparatively measly amount of money. I noticed that a lot of patrons had brought their own wine and glasses, and overheard the waitress explaining that the proximity of the restaurant to the daycare center behind it was the reason that they were not allowed to serve their own. The food on the tables around me all looked and smelled great, and it seemed that lots of people go there for meals other than pizza. I saw a few bowls of pasta, some different parmesans, some salads etc, that all looked good.

When my pizza finally arrived, It looked pretty darn good. Melty cheese, not too greasy, and piping hot. I had my first bite. Hmmm. Everything seemed to be on point…The crust was good- crisp and a little chewy, the cheese was good, melty and stringy, the sauce was good- fresh and tomatoey. But something was missing. Hmm. What is it? Oh! It’s FLAVOR. Ya. Not so much. I really couldn’t figure out why, but I ended up sprinkling on tons of oregano, garlic, and even salt- something I NEVER do, just to get it to taste like something. Sigh. This ain’t NY.

I was also really not thrilled that I had to leave a tip for one slice. I ended up spending about $3 instead of $2 and change. I would STRONGLY prefer being able to order at the counter like at most places.

Despite my less-than-awesome review of the pizza, I think I probably WILL go back. Next time, I plan to add a bunch of toppings on to the fairly decent platform in hopes of making it taste more like something. Anything. Until then, my quest for a good, straight-up, cheese slice continues.

Main Street Trattoria: 8131 Main St. Lakewood Ranch, FL

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I met my friend Rachel here for dinner the other night and was impressed for a few reasons. Our waitress was friendly and attentive and went over the specials right away for us. We were give ice water, menus and time to make our choices.

We decided to share a flatbread with fresh mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil and pesto and a ‘Chef Douglas’ favorite’ pizza with truffled arugula, domestic and portabella mushrooms and shaved parm. Both pies were delicious, made with super fresh ingredients and a crust that was a good balance of chewy and crisp. Now as a New Yorker, I am supposed to be very hard on out-of-NY pizza, but I can’t really compare this…it isn’t the fold-over style we NYers are bred to evaluate. This is more like artisan, thin-crust, brick over pizza- which is really a breed of it’s own, and for what it is, it is quite good.

The price was super reasonable and the service was excellent, casual but professional and attentive. There was live music outside that was WAY better than average and I really enjoyed listening to familiar songs, great voices and talented musicians.

The Main street location is very convenient and conducive to a pleasant evening stroll after dinner. I will definitely be going back!