Wilmington Pizza Insulting the stretch of pavement and stripmalls you call home


Nino’s Pizza & Pasta

Good pizza in Castle Hayne, what the shit

I've been to this place once before and the slice was alright, kind of mediocre. I decided to go back today because I was driving past it anyway, plus I got this strange card for Xmas called a Frank Card, which allegedly entitled me to a free slice of pizza from Nino's. Well when I got there it turns out you have to buy something to get that free slice. I didn't really give a shit because I was going to get something anyway, but normally I'd take a shit on the floor of such a shyster establishment. Regardless it would be a good deal though - 2 slices for $1.75? That's an even better deal than the shitty buck-slices in NYC.

The pizza was good. Here's a picture:

Let's start with the bad, because that's the most fun. It's got a big old burnt bubble on it! Either they cooked the pie too long to begin with or they cooked the slice too long on reheat. Either way, that's pretty shitty. It didn't bother me a ton, though. It's also a bit more greasy than a lot of places. That's a negative for most people but I'm totally down with a fairly greasy slice. My favorite pies from childhood were always pretty damn greasy. Finally to round out the negatives, this slice is a bit small in my estimation. However, for a buck seventy-five, you can't really complain too much. Come to think of it, it sort of looks like a plain slice of pizza from a Papa John's franchise with substandard Quality Control. And yet it was good!?

The cheese is good, the sauce is good, and the crust, though that rim doesn't look too good in the picture, is probably somewhere in that nebulous realm between good and great. Very thin, yet not floppy. Had a very nice crunch to it and it folded perfectly. The bottom was well cooked, unlike that mutant burn-bubble and the strange rim. I can't really talk shit about the rim because even though it looked a bit overdone, it was more or less what I'd consider the ideal NY texture. It also tasted very good. There was the right amount of salt there and the flour seemed like the high gluten you'd expect from this type of pizza.

The shop itself is pretty nice and quaint. I don't know anything about the history of Nino's but I'm guessing they made pizza in NY before moving down here. Their one fault in this regard, which is excusable when you live in redneck Castle Hayne, is that they're a bit too nice. And they're not even terribly nice by any local standard. It's just that I love pizzerias where the guy handing you your pizza looks as though he's really pissed off that he forgot to spit on your slice.

Thanks for the free slice, guys. It didn't have any effect on your recirc score (which woulda been better if the slice had been cooked less), I swear.


3 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)
Nino's Pizza & Pasta  - $1.75
2535 Castle Hayne Rd # A, Wilmington, NC 28401

Nino's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Posted by pete

Comments (47) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Pete, I did something like you are doing a couple years ago but didnt blog it. I got tired of shitty pizza and started trying about every pizza place I had not been to so I could setttle with a good place to frequent. This place I had been to before several years ago and was not impressed. I had a buy one get one coupon for Ninos so I figured I would give them another shot. When I finally got around to Ninos after trying other establishments I was very impressed with both pies. I was curious what happened, the owner was not the same owner of when I previosly ate there several years ago… that explained why it tasted like crap before. The current owner is from NY and he worked in the business there. Now this is my goto place usually every friday for their two pizza special.. Two 20 inch one toppings for 20 bucks. Its insane cause it can feed my family of five for at least two days! In my 30 or so visits there now over the past couple years I will say one or two times it was a little overdone but otherwise all others have been perfect. He uses whole milk cheese, and I too love the consistency of the crust that is crisp from middle to end. I keep trying new places that pop up and so far havent found a topper for Ninos. I did get a slice from Avanti a few weeks ago I was impressed with, I see you did not care for them but I thought it was at least worthy of me trying a pie one day. Keep up your good work scouting around and informing for us.

    • Nino’s is quite the hidden gem up there in Castle Hayne. If I lived anywhere nearby, it would be my shop of choice. and two 20″ 1toppings for $20 is crazy cheap.

      • I work in DT Wilmington but live in Burgaw… no pizza up here in B-B-B-B-Booorgaw!!. Ninos is off the beaten path on the way home to pickup dinner. But its almost always worth it. I know its listed as Castle Hayne but that little area is called Wrightsboro.

        • Good point, I am an idiot.

          • Just to let everyone know Ninos in Wrightsboro was sold by the owner from NY 3 months ago. The old owner Chris who was from NY is opening his new place at 5500 Market Street between College Rd and Eastwood. The new Ninos will be opening on April 16. The owner Chris is proud of his product and is very happy with all the positive feedback about his pizza. He wanted to bring one of the things that he missed most when he left NY, great pizza It makes him happy to know that he is somewhat successful in doing that. He hopes that he can continue that in his new more central location with even more to offer.

          • Thanks for the info, Joanne. I’ve been eagerly awaiting the new Nino’s opening.

  2. Well did you go???
    What did you think???

    • I’ve been working on another post. I was wondering, are you Joanne Diamond, Chris’ wife? The pizza seems different at the new spot. I tried the old location’s pizza very recently and it’s a spot-on match of the pizza I reviewed in December 2010.

  3. I am Chris’ wife Joanne and was surprised that you were not blown away with the pizza so I asked him what was different. He told me that he was so busy the first week that he ran out of his high gluten flour and had to pick up some flour at Sams club (which he is embarrassed to say). He needed flour and had no choice because it was Sunday. He also said that he hired 2 new pizza guys that he is training and that could also be part of the problem. My husband likes your work and loves the fact that all these phony pizza places can’t fly under the radar and go unnoticed. So many places claim to have great pizza but do not ( like kick back jacks ). Hopefully in a few weeks he will have all the kinks worked out and you can return for a slice of great pizza that will make the new Nino’s on Market Street one of your favorites pizza places. Thank you!


    • Joanne – I love your IP by the way – this is quite a remarkable way to talk to someone that has visited your new store multiple times in recent weeks. I also refrained from posting a negative review in hopes that issues would get resolved (mental note: never be nice again). Not to mention all the times I patronized your former store and the glowing review I wrote for it. I’ll come in soon. I’ll give you a fair shake as always but let’s be realistic: you’re probably gonna get your shit pushed in.

  5. Pete, thanks for your blog post on Nino’s Pizza (the real one on Castle Hayne) and for your subsequent replies to these bullshit comments from the old owner’s wife. I’m the pizza guy at the Castle Hayne location and have been for more than a year now. When Chris sold the store to the new owner, he tried to screw the new guy over by changing the sauce recipe and dumbing down the dough by making it some generic crap recipe. I’m glad to know that you saw through the bullshit. Feel free to come by our hole-in-the-wall establishment and I’ll make you what I consider the best slice in Wilmington.

    • Way to go Kenny! You are telling the truth! By the way you are an awesome cook and make the BEST CALZONES IN NC. I might need you to visit SC and teach these pizza owners here how to make a calzone! Keep up the GREAT WORK AT NINO’S!

  6. I am Chris the owner of the REAL Ninos on Market. There is no other Ninos as far as I’m concerned. You can say what you like but I will put my pizza slice against any other in Wilmington. The old place was purchased as a pizzeria he wanted to keep the name and I let him. Big mistake because people actually think that it’s still mine and I’m getting so much negative feedback about the food it’s ridiculous. There is no Ninos without me. Kenny is just a sore because he wanted to be at the new store and he would have been if he didn’t screw around so much. The recipes that I gave the castle hayne owner are the recipes that were handed to me when I bought it. The recipes that I have now are mine that I developed and those are mine. And Kenny has not been the cook there for more than a year because he took a leave of absence for 4 months and this is the thanks I get for giving him his job back after that and other employees giving up hours to fit him in. Bravo Kenny your welcome

    • No offense or anything but the pizza at your new joint kind of sucks.

    • Excuse me, but you don’t have the real NINO’S, it’s just a figment of your imagination. By the way you should be ashamed of yourself, lying and cheating a young man (the owner). Sure looks like Jesus is BLESSING HIS STORE. The owner is a very hard worker and Christian man! May god continue to Bless him. Want to reap some of the blessings? Ask Jesus to come into your heart and cleanse you of your sin then make Him Lord of your life. Then stop comparing your self with anyone else. Jesus made every human being SPECIAL. You have talents that no one else can compete with so just focus on what you do best and forget about what others say. Love ya in Jesus!

  7. You have no idea what good pizza is anyway if you think that the best pizza in Wilmington is Brooklyn. Like I said any pizza anytime against mine the real Ninos pizza at 5500 Market St.

    • Out of curiosity, why did you sell your shop to someone and then open a new shop in town with the same name? seems pretty shitty. Also, you need to go back to whatever recipe you were using at your old location because your stuff is crummy right now.

  8. Real New Yorkers know the real deal and Ninos at 5500 Market St is it!!

    • whenever i’ve been in your shop it’s basically you goofing off on your cell phone, a couple girls doing nothing at the register and i guess there’s a guy in the back making pizzas blindfolded high on bath salts

  9. What does any of that have to do with the pizza. And if that’s how you feel about my pizza guy nick maybe you should tell him that yourself. I have met so many people from up north that have moved here and everyone of them say that my pizza is one of the best in Wilmington. 90 percent of the pizzas here are bullshit and I know mine is not. You may not like it which I can’t understand but that’s fine because you can’t make everybody happy. All I keep getting is great feedback on the pizza and the rest of the food. I feel the pizza is great. And the moon cheese you refered to was grande cheese that you so loved at brixx!

  10. Belive it or not Even your beloved Brooklyn Pizza cooks their pizzas on screens call them yourself.

  11. Pete its kind of hard to believe your a pizza critic, when you dont know shit about the subject. 90% of flour dough pizzas are cooked on screens. Also the pizza at Ninos on Market is slammin. Maybe you should stick to judging what your good at, wich is probablly men.

  12. I sold the old place because all the people i knew that loved the pizza but didn’t live in wrightsboro said “i wish you were closer then i would come more ” so thats what i did. The reason the old place is still Ninos is because the new owner said he didn’t have the money to buy new signs. And he knew that I was opening a new shop on market that’s why I didn’t let him have my Ninos logo. I am using the same recipes as there so the pizza should be the same as it was there I haven’t gotten negative feedback except from you. I’m doing my best. Believe me. And I’m friends with anthony the owner of Brooklyn and he does use screens. He actually almost bought my old place.

    • I’m inclined to believe you, because i am an idiot, but it tastes a lot different than the old place. each primary element seems worse to me. i’ve had about 12 slices in total so this isn’t exactly a hit and run review scenario.

    • My suggestion to you is, if you are going to say something about someone else, make sure you are not blatantly lying! Which you are!

  13. The funny thing is that I kind of feel that the pizza I make here is a little bit better tasting than the pizza that I had going out over there

  14. Sounds like all you can do is complain. This pizza is the best all around. I am being honest and if it were bad I would say so. My suggestion to you is GROW UP! Thank Jesus you are breathing and are blessed enough to have food to eat. There are so many people starving to death. My moto is if you can’t say anything nice, DON’T SAY IT AT ALL. I WANT YOU TO KNOW: JESUS LOVES YOU!

  15. I tried the pizza on Market Street Thursday and stopped by Castle Haynes Saturday afternoon, when I left work at the studio. Both places served a good pizza, but I would agree that the Castle Hayne NINO’S has a better product. The texture is more of the type I ate while up north and they seem to have higher quality ingredients than Market street.

    I also want to point out that getting in and out of the parking area at the Market Street NINO’S is dangerous.


  16. Stumbled upon this website by accident, while browsing images.google.
    Checked it out of curiosity, which quickly turned into eyes wide open.
    I MEAN, WHO THE FUCK IS THIS GUY – a self-proclaimed pizza god, a guru, a know-it-all entity?
    Dude, FUCK YOU. Fuck your favorite color, fuck your transvestite sister, fuck all of you. RETARD.

  17. Side note Ninos on market street is closed for business last I checked the restaurant is completely empty. Was going there quite often and the pizza got worse everytime. As soon as the sweetjack offer came out for Ninos it was the beginning of the end. I went there a few times after the fact to give Ninos the benefit of the doubt but it just got worse. My coworker had the same experiences as me. I was so disappointed because to me Ninos was the benchmark for so long. It just seemed like the ingredients changed

  18. These comments are awesome. Keep em comin, pizza shop owners!

  19. new ninos definitely was worse than old ninos

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