A common refrain from readers of this website is that I ought to give new local businesses a fair shake instead of shitting all over them. What these silly nits don't understand is that I. Can. Do. Both. And so can you. If a fair shake leads to you deciding that a place is a garbage-y butthole, preach on, you beautiful black man.
It was with this fairly racist and nonsensical thought in mind that I went to try Mamma Bella. I thought, be nice this time, ya old geezer. Don't go straight for the jugular. But that's just not my game. I'm here for blood.
Damn shame that this place really knocked my socks off. You have their Facebook site and local reviews suggesting a superior NY-style pizza and yet they don't even offer 18" pies. And the pictures I saw initially made me never want to even give this place a shot. Though I'm glad I did end up giving them a shot, it put me in a predicament because I didn't know where to put this place in relation to other local pizzerias.
My first words to my wife were, "this could be the best pizza in town."
This pizza has a perfect crust, a perfect sauce and perfect cheese. The ratios of the three are beyond reproach. Clearly, this is the best pizza, right? But how might Brooklyn be better? Their added pre-baked Italian spices in the cheese go pretty far in my opinion. Yet, their pies have notoriously undercooked undercarriages. Slices don't have that problem, but the pies really do. Mamma Bella gets it right the first time.
How about I <3 NY Pizza? Technically on the blog they rate lower than Brooklyn. But they're not any worse. I just got an incredibly good slice from Brooklyn when I reviewed them. I <3 NY has a consistency which Brooklyn can only dream of. They're non-stop slinging pies while Brooklyn is assembling shitty salads and mediocre pastas for ponces. Overall, Mamma Bella would have to rate slightly below I <3 NY and a bit above Brooklyn overall. But this fucks my ratings system. Well, it's my site so maybe I'll just change ratings around soon, fuck you.
Get it while it lasts. This location murders pizzerias.
1 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Mamma Bella - 8” - $5; 12”- $8, 16”- $14
Never shall I have a first born, for I shall surely love this place more than ... it
At first you might look at this pizza and say, "fuck me that slice is small and it's half bubble, fuck that." But check this out, this slice only costs a buck. Though this slice was small, it was abnormally good. Though there is clearly oregano on there, I didn't do it. If you've read my other reviews, you know I love oregano and apply it liberally. Beyond that, the cheese was just damn excellent. I don't know what they use but my first guess was Grande, which is a great cheese for a dollar slice. The sauce was lightly applied and therefore nondescript but also inoffensive.
Then we come to the issue of the crust. On the one hand, it was not exactly my type of crust - it was too thin and insubstantial. On the other hand, it was cooked exceptionally well, tasted fine, and hardly withstands any legitimate complaints. You might notice and be offended by the bubble in the middle of the slice. I can understand that but I grew up with bubble pizza, love that shit, and refuse to pander to your silliness.
In the above picture you can see the bottom of the slice. There is something vaguely Neapolitan about it. Yet after seeing the complete and final product it kind of reminds me more of some unleavened Jewish bread. I don't really mean this in a bad way because I was truly floored by this pizza. Though for me a slice is often made or broken by the crust, this slice really impressed me with its cheese. The crust was more than passable and the sauce was barely there but the cheese shone through like a motherfucker.
But then I went back again. I'll be honest when I say that I love this place. I love their dollar slices (they far outpace any dollar slice you will find in NYC and kill many slices that are north of $2.50 locally), love their wings, their drink prices, their location, their staff, their outdoor bar, just about everything. When I remember how terrible Fat Tony's was at this exact location, my heart is so warm that hobos flock to it for warmth.
However, on my second visit, my slice of pizza was merely 'pretty good.'
My second slice was cheese-heavy and it lacked oregano. The slice itself was larger but the crust resembled a more typical NY crust. I had some weird fascination with their thin (almost cracker-like) crust which I had had before, so this annoyed me. Though the sauce was more liberally applied, it remained inoffensive to the point that I didn't make note of it. The cheese was really the main culprit. Whereas the first slice's cheese was great, this one seemed too-heavily applied and, more importantly, of inferior quality.
This could be chalked up to a mozzarella run to Lowes due to low stock and desperation. Or maybe they're realizing that they shouldn't be using good cheese on dollar slices. Either way, I, Pete, your pizza reviewer, refuse to rate this slice just yet. Partially because I've had both a great slice and a mediocre slice and don't know where I stand and partially because I know I'm going back. Because I love this place so I "might as well." Aw fuck I feel dirty for even saying that.
Edit: Okay I'm giving this place 3 recircs. That's pretty fucking good for a dollar slice.
3 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)
Might as Well Bar and Grill - $1.00 + tax
This might as well be a tattoo parlor
It has been nearly a month since my last review. This is largely due to the fact that there's simply not much to review. There's a place in the Landfall shopping center that's too expensive for me and there are two new pizzerias in Leland. Like I said, the one in Landfall is too expensive so I don't even want to eat there even though I know their pizza is alright. And one of the two new pizzerias (Pizzetta's) doesn't seem to be open yet. I want to knock Leland Pizzetta's and Falcone's out in one trip. I'm kind of ADHD about my driving strategery.
I happened upon this Harris Teeter the other day and noticed they had a weird pizza station. I guess this is in response to the Whole Foods across the street. Fuck if I know. I was too busy then to get a slice but I came back. Oh yes, I came back you motherfuckers. I don't even know who I'm talking to right now.
The pizza was straight up garbagetown. You see those lights in the above picture? I guess they are supposed to magically keep the pizza warm, even though they're over 9000 feet away. I assumed my slice would get tossed back in the oven (like at any pizzeria and like they do at Whole Foods) to get toasty, but no. Fuck me, right? I got a slice which was vaguely warm at best. The cheese was a solid mass of congealed idiocy and the rest of the slice followed suit into a sea of bland normality.
The crust was the best thing going on here but it was still unremarkable. It was kind of light and pillowy and stupid. It was alright though, fuck it. The cheese, as I mentioned, was a congealed mass. It also tasted fake and shitty. We are definitely not dealing with whole milk mozzarella. The sauce was bad. It made me angry enough to shake my fist at a small child, but she only seemed mildly entertained which made me even more angry.
The worst thing about Harris Teeter serving shit pizza is that they're a fucking food store. They could just blend a can of crushed tomatoes and shit out a better sauce than they serve on their pizza. The sauce they came up with (God knows how) is so overcooked and overspiced it's not even bordering on idiotic it's just plain offensive. And, in the Lord's name I pray, these people really ought to be able to buy a decent hunk of mozzarella. Even some of their shitty Sorrento cheese, which they always have in stock, would be worlds better than this obscene offering.
Somehow I was not shocked to be the only one patronizing the new pizza station during lunch rush on a weekday. The deli, sushi, bread and sandwich stations were all packed but I was the only one buying a slice of pizza.
Just don't buy this shit. Maybe they'll get a clue and hire me as a consultant.
7 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Harris Teeter - $1.99 + tax 501 Oleander Drive Wilmington, NC 28403
[insert picture of exterior here. it was so hot out my phone was malfunctioning]
I've been patiently waiting for this place to open up since the closing of the infamous Gumby's. So when I saw the sign out front saying that it had opened, I was stoked. But it's been 100 degrees every fucking day and who wants to eat a hot slice of pizza when you've already sweated your balls down into ass-sweat covered raisins? I'm sorry about that awful mental imagery. Heat stroke and whiskey, blame them as well.
Through my various spies in town I learned that "Sal" is allegedly the brother of the dude that runs Uncle Vinny's in Carolina Beach. This gave me high hopes, since before learning this bit of intel I sort of assumed Brooklyn Sal's would be another shitty shop like Gumby's, just trying to steal the real Brooklyn Pizza's name along the way. Uncle Vinny's actually serves up a really good pie. It's not prototypical NY-street style stuff but you can tell they give many shits about the product they're selling in terms of ingredients and craftsmanship, and that goes a hell of a long way.
Brooklyn Sal's is not midtown Wilmington's answer to the opening of Uncle Vinny's in CB. Neither is Nino's, as I recently informed you. Midtown pizza is still dominated by Incredible, Nicola's and Pizzettas, with the potential nod to Luciano's which can be hit-or-miss.
The good news is that Brooklyn Sal's is a lot better than Gumby's was. Granted, that's not saying much, but their pizza is definitely not super bad. Plus, they just opened, so maybe they're still working on things. I'd wait a while and give them another try, but I learned my lesson from Nino's. Get it right or don't open up, motherfuckers.
It was kind of tough for me to distinguish the cheese from the sauce - probably because the sauce had a very strong flavor and the slice was a bit under-cheesed. I thought the cheese was okay but nothing to write home about (Hi mom). The sauce had a strange - though not offensive - taste. If I were a vegetarian, I would ask the cooks if the sauce was meat-based, because it definitely had a meaty flavor.
The crust kind of reminded me of a Papa Johns crust except thinner, drier and less greasy. It wasn't really that bad but it could have been a lot better. There are a few culprits one might blame but I'd pin the majority of the blame on what I suspect to be a too-low deck temperature on their pizza oven.
Overall, I would classify it as a strange cross between national American-style pizza chains and - interestingly - a Wilmington favorite, Brooklyn Pizza. It seems to falter in an attempt to satisfy both crowds, which is a shame. It may be the same trap Gumby's fell into: trying to please everyone and failing to please anyone. Well, except that strange fat man who sat next to me and tried to talk to me. He loved this shit.
It just seems to me that a good NY-style pizza is a cheap and easy thing to make and would be wildly popular in their location, yet they aren't quite hitting the mark. Just go minutes away in either direction to Pizzetta's, Nicolas or even motherfucking Scotto in the mall and skip this place entirely. Fuck it.
Also, who do you think you guys are, trying to throw the word Famous into your name?
There has never been a more substantial man in the history of mankind than Salamander Sal - Abe Lincoln
5 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Brooklyn Sal's Famous Pizza - $2.50 + tax 1414 S. College Rd., Wilmington, NC 28403
Below is a review I wrote a while back. I was hoping things would improve and I could burn this review but all the critiques hold true so fuck it here goes.
Third time's not the charm
It be nights like this when I hate captaining this pizza cruise. Actually, this tangled mess of drunken prose is less like a cruise ship or a pirate ship and more like a Navy destroyer. I don't want it to be a fucking destroyer. I really do have the best of intentions, like Lennie Small. Then my overwhelming power of critical cynicism just starts fucking shit up. I can't help it.
I was looking forward to Nino's new location. A lot. I loved the old Nino's location; the only problem being that it was in bumfuck Wrightsboro on the way to Castle Hayne (which is basically the moon as far as I'm concerned). This new location is quite close to where I live.
I'd heard mixed tales of how this store relates to the other; calling the Wrightsboro store as recently as a week or two ago got responses ranging from "Uh, you should probably call them," to, "Uh. They are different owners." I also heard that the old store was closing and this one was just the new location being opened by the former owners. Fuck if I know. Most likely scenario is the owners of this new place sold the old place some time ago, and then decided to try to buttfuck all the butts by opening a new shop with the same fucking name; basically, I just don't fucking know (or care).What I do know is that I logically assumed the pizza would be really good - so I ordered a whole fucking pie (plus another slice for an extra two bits during their grand opening promotional period).
I was fairly goddamn suspicious right off the bat. Immediately the crust stood out as a fraud, and so it was. More on that later. Biting into this thing elicited a most puzzled look on my face. Something was amiss, but what was it? My first guess was the usual suspect: the cheese. After eating the components individually (you should see this process, it's absurd), I became fairly confident that there is indeed trouble in Cheeseville. Additionally, the sauce was probably overcooked and a bit too pasty but overall it was okay. Almost good, maybe.
The cheese, however, tasted mostly of stupidity. I don't know what it was - either it's crummy quality - a weird cheese blend - or part-skim. It just doesn't fucking taste right. The cheese-sauce-crust ratio was pretty good, though. If the cheese were better, the slice would have been saved, in spite of the lackluster crust.
This looks much more fucked than it really was. It probably wasn't as burnt as the picture would seem to indicate. For example, my thumbail looks dirty as hell and it surely is not, though I should clip my nails. I took the picture because it shows that this pie was cooked on a screen (or at least that's what it fucking looks like to me). As a result of that, in combination with dough formula issues (I'd wager), the dough is overcooked on the bottom while remaining flimsy, lifeless, chewy and crunchless overall. And the while the bottom was overcooked, the top was undercooked.
Why the fuck are these guys using screens on large NY-style pies? Did they do this shit at the old location and I was too stupid to notice? This pizza seems completely different from the old place.
I also thought the dough probably had too much oil in it and tasted a bit yeasty and doughy which I guess is a weird critique to give something made of a yeast dough.
Don't call me a banana farmer.
5 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)$1.95 + taxicles 5500 N. Market St, Wilmington, NC 28405
It's been over a month since I wrote the above review. Despite assurances to the contrary from one of the owners, this place is still serving up weird-tasting pizza. You gotta go here and try it I guess, because I really don't know what's going on, nor how to accurately describe this shit. On my most recent visit the dough was marginally better (still screen-cooked), the sauce might have been a little better, but the cheese and the overall flavor was just fucking wonky. WHAT KIND OF FUCKED UP MOON CHEESE ARE YOU NERDS USING?
Edible mall pizza. The fuck?
Sbarro, one of only two establishments in town to have the ignoble distinction of receiving a full 8-recirc rating (infinite recircumcision), has bitten the dust. That was very good news. When I heard it was being replaced by another chain pizzeria (this one being SCOTTO, some weirdo place from up north), I was filled with terror and began shaking uncontrollably. It also may have been withdrawal, who knows.
The first thing I noticed was the stupid TVs they used as menu boards. Scratch that, the first thing I noticed was that they had infinitely more employees working there than customers ordering from there (zero versus 6+). And when I say working I of course mean standing around doing jack shit. I guess they're new and don't know how much staff they need at given times. There were so many people working here that I felt like an animal in a zoo being gawked at by a bunch of self-entitled human scum. The small asian people floating around handing out skewered meat added to that effect, strangely.
They have two types of pizza (NY style and something that looked vaguely deep-dishy) and a lot of variety therein. The NY style shit didn't look too bad. It was cheaper than Sbarro used to be ($2.94 versus $3.52) and the slice was larger:
The pizza probably looks oversauced, overcheesed or both in this picture, but it wasn't too bad. The sauce itself was also pretty good, as was the cheese. The crust was alright; it wasn't cooked on a screen (thank Christ) and it had a bit of a crunch. But it definitely could have used more salt (or, you know, any salt whatsoever). I actually enjoyed this mall pizza.
Unlike Sbarro's disgusting bullshit which I didn't even finish, I could've eaten another slice of Scotto's, which makes their 2 slices and drink special for $6+tax a pretty good deal in general and, in specific, an awesome mall deal. Or you could go next door and have some monstrously overcooked fried chinese heatlamped horseshit.
4 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Scotto Pizza - $2.94 3500 Oleander Dr., Wilmington, NC 28403