What the fuck am I supposed to write here?
Hungry Heroes opened up a few weeks ago in the desolate clusterfuck of traffic some degenerates call Ogden. Initially I was reminded of the defunct Hungry Howie's business over by Eastwood and Racine. I never went there. I only heard they had flavored crust and that was enough for me. I knew it was bogus.
Hungry Heroes seems, by a fair margin, more legitimate. Meaning they seem to sorta just be a sub joint that sells bread and pizza too since what-the-fuck-why-not-fuck-you-buddy.
This showed immediately when I went there for my slice review some weeks ago. Apparently their air conditioning was not up to the task of cooling a place running pizza ovens, so they said to come back in a week or two for pizza. This bothered me a bit because I had driven about solely for pizza and it was raining like a bastard but at the end of the day I didn't mind too much because I punched a baby so my day was alright overall.
Also they gave me a free loaf of bread. I didn't even buy shit the dude just gave me some bread. They claim to have the best italian bread in Wilmington. I can tell you straight away that's not true because you could get some italian bread from my Mom. She'll probably give you some fruit salad too. Honestly, Hungry Heroes bread is really good, though. Except that they forgot to put any salt in it. Bread without salt is like a tasteless void of pain and discomfort. I still ate it, mind you. However, it made me worry about their pizza.
I was right, sort of; the crust was lacking sodium. However, other than that I would say the crust was stellar. It was so good that I can damn near overlook the under-salting. I mean, I still have to mention it. I'm a reviewer, after all. The crust was the perfect height, well-browned and dry in that sort of way where fuck it you're eating greasy pizza, right? You don't need a greasy crust, too, do you? Oh you do? Fuck you then.
After the crust is a downhill, as might be expected. These guys are all about dough. And Boars Head meat. Are they about good pizza cheese? No. Are they about good red sauce? No.
And there you have it. This place serves up small (16") pizzas as an afterthought. The slices are an afterthought of an afterthought. The cheese is mediocre. It's not offensive or anything. Same thing with the sauce. It's kind of too sweet and it's annoying because damn it's close. And either one of these things could carry the slice into the record books. For Wilmington, anyway.
Rundown: Great crust; bland cheese; bland, overly-sweet sauce. Also cheap as fuck at $1.44 after tax.
Another weird thing about this place is their layout. They have this giant section in the front that is entirely empty and begging for tables to be put in. My only guess is that since they don't have a customer bathroom they're not allowed to have such seating. If so, I don't know where I stand. If a place is too small for a bathroom, wassup? However, let a nigga shit, right? Y'all know you like poopin'.
4 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Hungry Heroes - $1.44 8024 Market St., Wilmington, NC 28411
I'd heard Papa Bella's had became Uncle Louie's, but I'd been a bit lazy in regards to trying the new joint out. Actually - full disclosure - I told the other dolt who has written a couple reviews on this site to check it out for me. After all, he was the dude who reviewed Papa Bella's. (When I went there to review it they had "run out of pizza dough". Nimrods.) Then a friend of mine texted me the picture shown above and demanded I get off my ass and review it.
I hope this place does well, and it probably will. The area needs a pizzeria. There used to be a Dominos in this same shopping center. I used to work there, in fact. For about a week. I was a delivery driver because they were short-staffed and my friend was an assistant manager. This could speak to any number of things but it probably has more to do with my work ethic than anything else: holy shit, that job sucked. After I was hired they were like, okay, get this, you won't be delivering pizzas all the time so if there's nothing going on just wash dishes and fold pizza boxes.
I think that's pretty standard as far as pizzerias go, but do you know what I did? Here's a clue, I didn't wash a single damn thing and I still don't know how the fuck those box wizards fold those infernal boxes into glorified pizza wombs. I just delivered pizzas. And it was still a nightmare. Well, in any case, that Dominos is now a bar (upgrade) and the only other pizzeria nearby is fucking Hoobies.
If you've been to Papa Bella's in the past (either its former incarnation or its former former incarnation), walking into the new Uncle Louie's might give you a bit of a shock. The interior is 100% different. The old setup was really going for the grungy bar feel. It had a certain charm which I would have respected except they were in a strip mall and they were just gross. Uncle Louie's is going for a more upscale approach. Upon entry I immediately wondered if this gameplan even had a chance at success, given the location. They seemed to be doing fine - at least at the bar - because it was sorta crowded. Papa Bella's never seemed so busy, from my limited experience (I used to live a short walk from this location but I preferred walking an extra second and getting a frozen pizza and a six-pack from Food Lion).
I have to say that I really liked the layout and vibe of the bar. Reasonable bar specials were an added, lovely bonus.
Sweet baby Jesus I guess I'll mention the pizza.
At first glance it's not a terribly impressive sight. Especially without the crushed red pepper applied as pictured above. The rim of the crust seems underdone (or raw, maybe) and overall it sort of looked boring-bordering-on-stupid.
It wasn't quite so bad, though.
I usually start with the bad but the first thing that hit me was that the cheese was pretty good. They're clearly using a good product here, which might have to do with the fact that they also have a vaguely upscale menu featuring dishes which also contain mozzarella. So the cheese was good and greasy and I have no real complaints there. The saucing of the pizza was reasonable. It was bordering on being undersauced but this only caused me to have a difficult time tasting it individually and therefore being able to critique it individually (good job, you sneaky fuckers). As near as I could tell, the sauce was okay and reasonably applied.
The dough was basically shit. It's not the worst in town but it's also not far off, either. The top rim looked nearly raw; the bottom of the slice looked much the same, except where it was overly charred. The char can most likely be chalked up to an oven that is not cleaned often enough; a sloppy kitchen staff. The rest of the dough being really dense and underdone (at some points close-to-raw) is more difficult to explain.
I'm going to put my crazy pizza wizard hat on and guess that their poor, sad dough balls never get proofed. Possibly under-yeasted as well. This abortiony kind of pizza smacks you right in the face because on the one hand the pies are incredibly thin but on the other hand there is no bounce to them. No crumb is developed, there is no spring to the crust and it merely becomes a sloppy vessel to deliver some toppings to your face. Is there anything wrong with that? Yes there is, because: It should be so easy:
High gluten flour. Salt it. Water it. Proof it. All of a sudden, baby, you got a stew goin'.
I like the bar.
4 1/2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Uncle Louie's Pizza Lounge - $2.50 + tax 3224 Suite F North College Road, Wilmington, NC 28405
This place is open, what the shit?
I had given up on Hoobie's after peering through their window one day during business hours to see the place in complete disarray with no signage explaining their being mysteriously closed. When some people made it clear to me that this stupid place was actually still in business, I decided that for the sake of this blog's comprehensiveness I'd give it yet another shot. Hoobie's apparently doesn't sell slices but they did have a 10" pie for $3.23 after tax, which is pretty fucking cheap indeed. They seemed to be rather busy in there. I guess people like this place or something. I went here expecting the absolute worst.
Peculiar beast we have here, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had anticipated. The crust had a general burnt taste to it. It appeared to be cooked on a screen. I don't know where the burnt taste really came from, maybe from residual char left on the screen/oven floor or something. It wasn't anywhere near as bad as the shit served up by Goodfellas, at least. The cheese was a bit of a conundrum. I don't think it was part-skim due to the high grease levels, but it sort of had that globby consistency. And the taste was a bit odd. Do they add another cheese in here besides mozzarella? Maybe provolone? I don't know. I'm probably entirely off base.
One positive that I am able to report is that the sauce was very good. It was a simple sauce and it tasted good. It wasn't fucked to hell with a bunch of unnecessary spices, which was unexpected and welcomed. That doesn't make up for the crummy crust and questionable cheese, though.
God bless you, Hoobie's, you factory of pizza, you.
Brooklyn II: The Return of Brooklyn
In light of how glowing my review of the original Brooklyn Pizza Co. was, this review is bound to be shitty as hell, and more boring than the 'Health Nut' store located next to Brooklyn's Hampstead location. So I'll make this one short.
Looks pretty similar to the slice I reviewed at the other Brooklyn. Similarly small, which continues to baffle me because when I buy whole pies the slices are bigger than this, I swear. In any case, this slice wasn't as good as that other I reviewed, but it was still pretty damn good. If I had to guess, I'd say there wasn't as much sauce and cheese, so it wasn't quite as dank. The crust was good, as always.
I'll also mention that I tried a 'pepperoni pizza pinwheel' (as reviewed by PCF) or whatever they call em. It was a weird big old undercooked greeseball and not very appetizing, though it filled my fat face pretty well for $2.50+tax. God damn gut grenade. Also, I was charged $2.50+tax for a plain slice. Either Hampstead's price is higher than the other location or the dude fucked up (the dude probably fucked up).
Oh yeah this place has no seating, which is weird. I think Reel might've been the same way but I'm not sure because I was completely hammered when I went there. All of Hampstead weirds me the fuck out.
2 recircs out of a possible 8 recircs (lower is better)Wilmington's House of Pizza - $2.70
16865 Us Highway 17 N, Hampstead NC 28443
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