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
Hell hath no pizza as shitty as this
Years ago when the shopping center that houses Kornerstone Bistro was built, I had the crazy idea of opening up an upscale pizzeria here. It's the perfect location. In terms of competition all you have to worry about is Antonio's, which is crummy, and Brooklyn which is far enough away that laziness will often enough be triumphant. Then some other dumb motherfuckers had the same idea and opened up Kornerstone. I ate there immediately and was so amazingly underwhelmed that my dick fell off and crawled up inside my own butt. This place is/used to be called Kornerstone Wood-Fired Pizza. Now it's a "Mediterranean bistro" or something. When I ate this shit years ago and thought the pizza might be microwave-fired, but it was f'sho not cooked in a wood-burning oven.
I have to assume that their other food is better than their pizza. It's just gotta be because their pizza is garbage. This place is classy as hell. It looks great in there. I'm looking forward to when they finally do close down so that I can steal their setup (minus their Pizzazz pizza oven). Alright, fuck all that shit. Now that I've blatantly blown the credibility which I don't even have out of the water, let's get down to it. THE PIZZA:
This looks pretty darn close to the pie I had years ago. The first thing that hit me was that the crust looked kind of totally decent. The sauce seemed kind of abundant, but that's sort of how a margherita pizza is supposed to be. The cheese didn't look terribly appetizing but it also didn't look that bad, sorta. The addition of tomato slices and the lack of basil was fairly off-putting, though.
When you start to actually examine further is when terrible reality sets in. The cheese was okay. It didn't look like there was a ton on there but it was pretty damn dense so it still seemed like there was too much. The sauce was a bit of a conundrum. It tasted sort of fresh, but it was also fairly pasty in a terrible way. Also there was just too much of it. The tomatoes were okay. The lack of basil was very disheartening because I love basil.
The real problem with this pizza is the very same thing that upon first glance seemed like it might be the pie's saving grace: the crust. Apparently this place has the only wood-burning oven in the world where the dome temperature is 9000% higher than the floor of the oven, because although the rim of the crust looks alright, the bottom appeared to have not been cooked at all. Also, in a number of places inside the rim it was basically raw. It did not resemble a wood-fired Neapolitan crust by any stretch of the imagination. It was dense and bready, not in the least bit airy. However, it did have a fairly good, though somewhat yeasty, flavor.
This pizza most resembles the pizza served by Osteria Cicchetti. Except it was worse (but cheaper). I've got to try this place's other food items because I bet they're pretty good. It's a real goddamn shame that their pizza is so fucking lackluster. As an aside, Kornerstone gets the dubious distinction of selling me one of the only servings of pizza I have ever failed to finish.
Yeah fuck you too.
7 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Kornerstone Bistro - $7.56 8262 Market St # 101, Wilmington, NC 28411
Round 2: Revenge of the shitty pizza
Newsflash: I'm not trying to destroy local small businesses. I'm not some goddamn Dominos plant, trying to shiv the little guy with the sharpened dick of eternal capitalist conflagration. I'm just a dude who purports to know more about pizza than virtually everyone around him. I operate via honesty alone. Regardless of one's opinion on capitalism, and therefore America, we can all agree that in a capitalist environment, the strong will thrive and the weak will fail (on the whole, all else being equal).
If a respectable number of people actually read this blog (they don't; I have full, in-depth access to the logs of this server), some of them may decide to not eat at a place based upon a review featured here. However, as far as I have been able to tell, through actual reader interaction, this blog has actually resulted in people patronizing local pizzerias, as opposed to causing potential patrons to run for cover (as they honestly fucking should). I got 'em in your doors. After that it's up to you to prove me wrong. Alas, it seems people generally agree with me after doing their own check-ins. In a nutshell: fuck anyone that critiques my awful blog on the basis of the unassailability of local small businesses.
My cohort, Capt. Falcon (as he so terribly dubbed himself), left a rather harsh review for Antonio's of Porter's Neck. As an editor, I considered editing that review and getting rid of his complaints about the pizza being "too hot." But, at the end of the day, I found the review to be fairly hilarious, and I felt that his mention of how completely ill-qualified he was to review a pizzeria balanced out his ridiculously left-field critique criteria. At that point it was effectively a wash; the reviewer was a worthless sack of shit and the pizzeria was who-gives-a-fuck. Life goes on. However, an employee/manager's post on that review had me second guessing myself. A request was made for me to review the pizza personally and I, in turn, acquiesced.
Here's the pizza I got. Like Capt. Falcon's, it was also somewhat inexplicably put in a to-go box, even after I said I'd be eating it at the restaurant:
Looking at this picture, it kind of looks like a small, cold, probably not-too-bad slice. That goes to show that my camera phone apparently sucks. The slice was piping hot. I will not complain about this fact; I just let it sit for a little bit before eating it because I am not an idiot. The slice still looked a bit off, anyway. What may not be apparent is that theres simply too much cheese on this slice. Maybe this is a trend - maybe this is the future of American pizza. Just keep adding motherfucking cheese until your entire client base dies of a collective borg-like heart attack and then open up some kind of stupid salad shop as a replacement. I for one do not welcome our new cheese overlords.
The real problem with too-much-cheese arises when that cheese also happens to be crummy. I can't explain this slice, or my rating thereof, in a meaningful way except by saying that the cheese was shitty. The owner/manager/whatever of this place can feel free to trump me by informing us of what gloriously unbeatable product they use. However, from my perspective, it's leagues below the kind of quality cheese you can find at I <3 NY, Brooklyn, Reel and Nino's. As an aside, you see the local small businesses I just mentioned? They serve a quality product and deserve to thrive. That's how this shit works and if you don't like it then you clearly hate America and are in league with terrorists.
The sauce was hidden almost entirely by the mountain of crappy cheese, so I can't give much comment on it. The crust seemed okay but it was overdone and quite dry. More salt in their dough formulation along with a higher hydration percentage (or shorter overall cook time) would go a long way. That said, when it comes down to it, all this slice really needs to be a competitor is better cheese, and preferably less of it. When I get a hot slice of pizza, the cheese shouldn't have a globby consistency; it should be deliciously stringy. That's not even up for debate. It should also, preferably, not have a foul taste that just gets worse and worse as you eat the slice. I came here hoping for some Antonio's redemption, but the bland, globby, dry slice of pizza simply did not win me over. I guess there's a reason most people drive a few miles past this place and get their pies from Brooklyn.
6 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Antonio's Pizza & Pasta - $2.16 8211 Market Street, Wilmington, NC 28411
Eating an entire arid Saharan landscape would be preferable to this
Papa Bella's Pizzeria is where underachievers congregate to brood over their past and imminent failures. It's located near North Chase, between the shittiest high school and the shitty community college in Wilmington, both of which I have had the displeasure of attending. Since Pete has been in an eternal, drunken coma recently, I took it upon myself to venture into the bowels of Wilmington and try this place out.
I brought my sister along with me in solidarity; if I was going to be forced to eat vile food, she would be too. Also, my phone was unable to take pictures, so I needed a photographer. Upon entering this establishment, my low expectations were somewhat lifted, mostly because it smelled god damn delicious in there. So I sat down with an odd feeling of optimism - a real rarity in this city. But I soon realized that the higher your hopes are, the easier and more satisfying they are to crush. I ordered a slice of cheese pizza for the blog and a slice of bacon & chicken pizza for possible personal enjoyment. The girl behind the counter let me know that chicken and bacon would cost me more than the other toppings, but apparently she has a thing for putrid, unkempt hobos like myself, so she told me I would get them on the cheap.
This picture makes the cheese look like the old, decrepit skin of a Himalayan sherpa. However, that should be attributed to the undeniable shittiness of my sister's phone. The cheese actually looked decent and didn't taste half-bad, either, aside from the cheese-less bubble at the rim. Although I am required to rate Papa Bella's on their cheese pizza alone, I feel the need to comment on the other slice as well. At first glance, it appeared that the cook had jizzed all over my meat pie, so I devoured it like a ravenous beast. To my immediate dismay, I realized that it was only melted cheese. Nonetheless, it was an interesting addition to the slice.
Back to the cheese. Expecting it to droop like Larry King's gonads, I lifted the slice up as gingerly as possible. My mind was blown when, unlike Antonio's slice, it held its shape without turning to goo. So far, so good. However, the first bite was somewhat of a let-down. While I enjoy thin pizza like any other dirty vagrant, Papa Bella's pizza was like paper. I was grateful I ordered two slices, because one would not have sufficiently satiated my hobo hunger. Although the parsimonious use of dough was disappointing, they were also frugal with their application of cheese. That was certainly a plus, because cheese clusterfucks piss me off like nothing else.
So their cheese was good, the service was friendly, and the place had a nice feel to it. Regrettably, that's where the positives ended for Papa Bella's. I would have been fine with the slimness of the pizza had the dough been good. But the dough, especially the crust, was so dry it literally turned to dust in my mouth. That fact was only made worse when I realized that the bottom of the pizza was heavily powdered with saliva-absorbent flour. Luckily, in a fit of prescience, I had ordered a glass of water ahead of time. This foresight proved invaluable - without the added hydration, I don't think my mouth would have ever recovered from the drought that pizza caused. I honestly have no idea how their cotton-mouthed, pothead customers survive without an IV-drip.
I made it through both slices with remnants of hunger pangs. I shied away from ordering another slice, instead opting to return home to eat my leftovers from Flaming Amy's. So I paid my tab, which was cheaper than it should have been thanks to that discounted bacon & chicken slice, and I actually left a bit of a tip. Perhaps it was because I heard one of the workers mention the possibility of them closing down. Apparently they're losing a lot of business to Hoobies (who would've guessed?). Actually, my generosity was most likely due to the fact that the service was friendly and the girl behind the counter was cute. I'm a sucker for girls who treat disheveled vagabonds like somewhat more respectable tramps. 50 cent discount? Yes please.
5 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Papa Bella's Pizzeria - $2.16 3224 N. College Rd., Wilmington, NC 28405
What the fuck is this shit? I'm the Juggernaut, bitch
I took a picture of The Pepperoni Grill, but, uh, it didn't work out. Instead, I'm posting the picture displayed above. This is my golfing buddy semi-directly before we shared some pizza at The Pepperoni Grill. The reason I took this picture is because as I was parking the cart he started to flip out, telling me that our mode of transportation was on the verge of flipping over: he thought the cart pictured above was about to flip over. This guy had a near-death experience based on this supposed predicament.
Well, after that shitty round of golf we went to some wacko pizzeria in BSL. There were over 9000 employees in there giving me the ultimate staredown. I was super happy that instead of herb I'd only ingested like 42 beers and basically defeated the universe. Because, otherwise, that shit would have creeped me out. In any case, I got some pizza for me and my wonderful chauffeur. What we received was a mixed bag of jangmotions, to be sure.
This is a pitifully small slice of pizza! What the hell! Doesn't look good besides, but jeez louise. What kind of terrible baby-pizza was this cut out of? Holy shit! I am, obviously, offended. I've been here once before and the pizza was totally legit, especially for some hole-in-the-wall place in BSL. So I figured this slice would be good. But then I got this and I was considering performing an infinite recircumcision on the spot. Don't judge a book by its cover though, shitdick.
It appears undercooked. It wasnt; the whole thing was pretty well cooked, especially the bottom which looked like it was cooked in a fucking wood-burning oven. I don't even understand it. The bottom of this pizza looked and tasted so god damn sexy that I had trouble containing myself. The top looks like shit. The sauce was okay. The cheese was above average, by far I think, but it was too lightly applied. That's a rarity around here; usually the problem is too much cheese.
This is one hell of a motherfucker to review. Sauce is okay; cheese is good but improperly applied; oven-job is both good and shit; slice is small. When it comes down to it, I still liked this slice. I wanted another, and that's a pretty important factor. Unlike other places that serve slices that leave a literal bad taste in your mouth, The Pepperoni Grill basically leaves you feeling ripped off and wishing to be ripped off again. The really weird part was that me and my friend both agreed initially that this shit didn't even have much taste, but by the end of it, it was pretty fucking tasty.
I think half of the slice had no cheese on it, but I still liked it. They don't really deserve the rating I'm about to give them, but I've been drinking Beast Ice since 8:30 a.m. so who gives a shit. A larger slice with more cheese and this pizza is near the top, maybe. Not today, though, motherfuckers.
Ha ha! America!
4 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)The Pepperoni Grill - $2.16 3156-1 Hwy 87, Boiling Spring Lakes, NC 28461