Posts Tagged ‘Thin Crust Pizza’
Back in the day, a part of the Lake (Ponchartrain) front in New Orleans was called “Bucktown.” I’ll leave it to you to find out why. Bucktown had bars, restaurants, businesses that catered to the fishing fleet parked on the shore. Today, Bucktown is mostly made up of the Corps of Engineers Levee (now, new and improved!), and a few restaurants have survived.
About the only one with a sense of longevity and continuity, is the R&O, which says on the front of the building “Restaurant and Catering” and says on the menu “Pizza Restaurant.”
Identity crisis? In fact “no,” and most people go to R&O for boiled and fried seafood platters, piled high with local goodness – oysters, crawfish, shrimp, crabs, fish.
Used to be the restaurants here would take the seafood right out of the Lake, but these days, product comes from around the local region.
In addition to the seafood, R&O has a complete Italian dinner menu, sandwiches and pizzas, so it’s pretty high on the family dining list, with something to please most every one. And since it’s an oyster outlet (down here we say “er-ster”, tho), there is always an ample supply of saltines on the table to shut up those
rugrats ankle biters.
But I go for the pizza. To my tastes, it’s one of the best in New Orleans, which is not exactly pizza heaven, despite the large influence of Italians in the region, and a great many excellent Italian restaurants.
In fact “pizza” and “dearth” go together here, in my mind.
R&O’s has a great thin crust, bubbly/chewy on the rim, crispy inside, cooked on a standard gas two-decker, like Blodgett or Baker’s Pride (I didn’t peek).
New Orleans is a great town to get Italian sausage, and the hand-pulled chunks on R&O’s pizza are no exception. Excellent texture, seasonings, and cooked to perfection. Real cheese and a mild red sauce (here we call it “red gravy”) bind it all together. The cheese melds together so well, that if you attempt to remove a slice immediately after the pizza has been served, that cheese is going to pull away. Wait a minute! The whole experience will go better.
During the seven years I lived here, I searched uptown, downtown, all around for a good pizza, and R&O became my consistent choice.
New Orleans Pizza
This particular location, in the far Northwestern suburb of Carpentersville, is located in a small strip mall, set well back from the nearby main drag (Illinois 25), and you’re not likely to see it if you’re not looking for it, or unless you’re a regular. There are two sides to the business, a full boisterous bar with seating and service on the right, and a sedate, vinyl-table clothed restaurant on the left.
Judging from mentions of the restaurant on other sites, this place has been here at least 25 years. The restaurant does a booming take out and delivery business, with a very complete menu of dinners, sandwiches, pizza, and nightly specials. On a Thursday nite, at the dinner hour, the bar was packed and the dining room deserted. Guess which I opted for?
Meals are served complete – with a complimentary bread basket, soup or salad. The Thursday special was fried chicken, four good sized pieces on the plate, with a choice of fries, smash or baked. The salad was ample, the soup Minestrone.
The thin crust pizza is priced 10-20 % less than other independents in the area, which surprised me, because Barone’s really piles on the cheese (the equivalent of double at other pie shops), and used a hand-pulled, flavorful, Italian sausage in good sized pieces. The crust is typical of “Chicago thin,” not cracker-like, but crispy and flaky at the same time. Sauce was flavorful without being overbearing. I like sliced green olives on my pizzas on occasion, and it seems like Barone’s uses my favorite kind, a “Sicilian style.”
Service was perfunctory. The menu states to allow 25 minutes for pizza, so there’s been no oven update in that kitchen in the past few decades. But that’s ok. It was worth waiting for, and if I lived in the Chicago ‘burbs, this would be my new go to place.
And my always “ultimate test” of how is it the next morning, cold? As Mr. Burns would say, “Excellent.”
Barones Restaurant and Pizza Review
Last in a series of Chicago’s local frozen pizzas, up today is Gino’s East Thin Crust Sausage. Gino’s is well known for their Chicago deep dish, (recent review) but can they cut the cheese with a thin crust?
At $4 bucks on sale for 18 ounces, right away it’s a pretty good value. Baking instructions call for 15- 18 minutes, middle shelf, 425, so we started with 15, and that was sufficient.
This is a seriously thin crust. Cracker or less! (fine with me)
Toppings are ample; I prefer larger sausage pieces than Gino provides. That’s just a personal thing. The sausage has a good flavor, on the milder side, but the sauce has a little bit of spice to it. Overall? It’s a good deal, and better taste/texture than the major frozen players, in my opinion. I’d do it again.
To visit an actual Gino’s East, you’ll find them here.
Twenty three years ago, the brothers Cole started the first iFratelli’s Pizza in Irving, TX. Today, the DFW area boasts nine locations as well as one full serve Italian restaurant under the same banner. Their dough for their thin crust pies is “hand-crafted” daily, and their red sauce, salad dressings, and meatballs are all made from scratch.
I know a few of my fellow pizza fanatics around the country have expressed disdain for iFratelli, but to me, it’s one of the best, anywhere. The reason is the same reason anybody has a favorite, it’s prepared to their liking, with the ingredients they prefer.
In the case of the Cole brothers, they make an exemplary thin crust pizza, my #2 favorite in the nation. (Sorry, Coles, like most people I have a hometown favorite, it’s Sammy’s Pizza in the Upper Midwest!)
But rest assured, every time I come to the DFW area, I make a beeline for iFratelli’s. I’ve even been picked up at the airport by a friend with one of their pies in hand!
What’s to like? The thin crust is crispy throughout the pie. Crispy, but firm enough that there is absolutely no hang or topping slippage. They’re light on the sauce, moderate on the cheese, and heavy on the toppings. iFratelli uses top grade pepperoni, in the pic below you will see no charring or cupping. They use a very flavorful sausage, and it’s crumbled, which I like easily as well as hand-pulled chunks. And of course, to be high on my list, you have to have green olives, and iFratelli doesn’t disappoint, they have sliced greens that have been marinaded in Sicilian style herbs and spices. So each bite of pie (shaped in a long oval and rectangularly sliced, Neapolitan style, you can expect nearly the same amount of toppings, cheese, sauce, and a nice herb assortment.
This pie is 1000x better than the “Big Italy” that I sampled at a Pizza Hut a few nights earlier.
For my money (and I spend MY money on the road), iFratelli is one of the nation’s best. Here are some coupons.
iFratelli Pizza Review
I am about to set out on a pizza tour, because I love thin crust pizza! Already on my list are some of my life-long favorites, Sammy’s (multiple Minnesota locations)’ iFratellis in Dallas; Basil’s (Bill’s recipe), Northfield, Minneosta; JJ Twigs, Lake Zurich, IL; Marios, Arlington, VA: a couple places I have heard about, but not tried, like Pointer’s in St. Louis, and Frank Pepe, New Haven. For the purpose of my personal gluttony trip, thin crust is NOT NY style, where the front of the slice bends in your hand and the toppings slide off, NAY, but rather a thin crisp, cracker-like crust that holds the toppings in place! And none of that fancy schmancy “artisan” pizza, either. For me, fowl pizza is foul! No flatbreads, no sun-roasted crap. And it has to have red gravy! And pork products! Please feel free to send along your suggestions, I’m hungry and itching to get on the road!