Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Review: Pizza Schmizza

Apparently the hot spot to eat before catching a Saturday night flick at the Riverstone theater is Pizza Schmizza. Located just steps away from the box office, Pizza Schmizza attracts movie goers and hungry diners alike.

A visit to the New York style eatery last weekend was my first taste of the chain's "gourmet" pizza. The restaurant cooks to order more than 20 varieties of whole pies, such as Ol’ Hickory (hickory smoked bacon, baby red potatoes, Roma tomatoes & a dollop of sour cream) and Green Chicken Pie (pesto chicken, fresh spinach, marinated artichoke hearts, Roma tomatoes & feta cheese) along with the standard fare. They also offer fresh slices of classics and special pizzas that change daily. Pasta dishes and side items round out the menu.

On this trip to Pizza Schmizza, we ordered up a "ginormous" 18" pizza. Off the menu I chose Foo Foo (marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, garlic & feta cheese) for my half and DD picked pepperoni, salami and jalapenos for the second half. In just the time it took for us to read the menu and decide on toppings, a line formed that nearly reached the door. We got our order placed just in time, as the line was constant and just as long during our whole meal.

Our dinner started with Dipsticks, Schmizza's version of breadsticks. The pillowy sticks of pizza dough arrived hot with a side of marinara sauce (you can also choose Alfredo or ranch). The Dipsticks were like the best part of a pizza - the crust. The outside was chewy and the inside soft with a flavor reminiscent of being baked in a brick oven. Unfortunately, the sauce had a canned taste and detracted from the Dipstick experience.

Our meal deal came with side salads, so we tried one each of the Greek and Caesar. The Greek salad consisted of baby spinach and feta cheese, topped with vinaigrette and a skewer of red onion, tomato, kalamata olives and cucumber. The skewer was a nice touch and made for a good presentation. The dressing was light and flavorful. The Caesar salad didn't fare as well. The romaine lettuce was dripping with a dressing that was so thick it was almost inedible.

After the Dipsticks, I was really looking forward to pizza with an excellent crust. What arrived was only sub-par. The giant pizza had just the right amount of toppings and sauce, but the crust came out flimsy and slightly soggy under the toppings. It gave me the impression that the pie needed a couple more minutes in the oven. Unlike the Dipsticks, there was no hint of brick oven in this pizza crust.

The Foo Foo toppings almost made up for the crust with an excellent combination of flavors. The sweetness of the sun dried tomatoes cut the bite of the feta cheese. Baby artichoke hearts dotted the surface and the mozzarella held it all together. The sauce on the pizza complimented the mix of toppings. DD loved his combination of pepperoni, salami and jalapenos and didn't mind the soft crust. He declared it the best pizza he's had in some time.

I have to admit, the lackluster pizza crust and over dressed Caesar made me think I wouldn't return to Pizza Schmizza. The interior of the restaurant sealed the fate. Each wall is a different color from the obnoxious palette. Neon green. Purple. Silver metallic. Brown. Mustard. Old movie posters decorate the wall in cheap looking plastic displays. A TV played the Shock game in one corner while patrons crowded around the counter in the other. A mix of 80's and 50's music played as a odd combination in the background. Combine the above with little space to maneuver, and I was ready to leave almost as soon as we arrived.

The one saving grace of Pizza Schmizza was the service. Each employee I spoke with was friendly, smiling and helpful. The dinner rush didn't diminish the welcoming attitude of the staff and the cashier made a point of thanking us as we left.

Considering mine and DD's differing opinions of the pizza and decor, we might end up at Pizza Schmizza again, but only because of it's convenient location next to the movie theater. And if we do, I'll just stick to Dipsticks.

Prices: From $11.99 for a medium pepperoni to $27.99 for an 18" alligator sausage pie. Slices start at $2.99

1 comment:

Phil said...

We've eaten there twice. Each time, it was okay. Maybe slightly better than okay. But my socks weren't knocked off, as I was expecting by their marketing themselves as "gourmet pizza." I guess as long as it's not horrible we'll probably eat there before a movie. When more restaurants start opening up around the theater, however, Pizza Schmizza will drop down our list.