iPhone photo by me

Taste Test Thursdays

Taste Test: Margherita Pizza

Which is the best?

Today is National Margarita Day. I’m not sure why February 22 was chosen as the official date to celebrate the tequila-based cocktail. I did some Googling and couldn’t find a concrete answer, and then clicked a link and ended up down a rabbit hole, reading about how the world’s largest bee was recently spotted for the first time since 1981. It has a wingspan of two and a half inches! Yeah, sorry, not helpful in this case. Where were we? Oh, yes. Today is National Margarita Day. Why? Who knows.

While a margarita taste test would have been ideal, there was no way to get the cocktails up to the office. I offered to blindfold my colleagues and drive them around to various restaurants and bars, where they could sip, and fairly judge, tequila and lime and Cointreau and whatever else. But nobody took me up on this. Whatever.

So, we got creative. And did a margherita pizza taste test. (Homonyms are fun!) I ordered a handful of pies for lunch yesterday and my colleagues stuffed their beautiful faces in the name of research.

Here’s what happened.

The pizzas:

Pie Tap

i Fratelli

Eno’s

ZaLat

Greenville Avenue Pizza Company

Cane Rosso

 

Tasting notes: 

Pie Tap

I wanted to hate this one. It has microgreens on it, and I’m always a little skeptical of microgreens. But it’s nice. It’s got a robust tomato flavor, and the sea salt shows. The crust is fine. Would eat again.

Nice crust with its semolina dusting on the bottom. It’s go some nice chew to it. It’s like the blonde beauty of crusts, with a tiny sourdough tang. Love the whole basil leaves. The tomato sauce is super zippy, super savory, acidic, bright, and delicious.

Whole layer of cheese came off on the first bite. Plain. Blah.

First thought is salty, but the salty goes well with the tangy sauce. Crust is crispy on the edge and soft in the middle. Very hard to resist scarfing.

I love the fresh tomato sauce/cheese and the crust was great. Got some garlic which was nice.

My favorite. This is the Casino of pizzas. It is as sophisticated and street smart as Sam Rothstein, with a fluffy Neapolitan crust with a touch of a salt, fresh mozzarella, and a smear of tomato sauce that tastes of the garden. Tiny basil shoots are sprinkled like Ginger’s diamonds.

There was a line to take IG pizza pics as long as our edit department, and I think this one suffered during the delay more than others, because of its thick cheese. It has a nice, chewy crust. But the toppings were few and far between and didn’t blow me away.

Super thick cheese. Tastes like fresh mozzarella. Sauce is sweet and tangy, more of a marinara/pasta sauce flavor. Crust is great and has those Neapolitan-esque burnt bubbles. Chewy but manageable.

Crust is chewy in a good way. Nice basil flavor and tangy sauce.

Ooh. The full basil leaves are so pretty. And the crust on this pizza is so good. I want to write a love song.

Too much cheese, but I’m willing to overlook. The sauce is delicious. It has some nice olive oil flavors that taste very fresh. I’d marry this pizza. 10/10.

 

i Fratelli

Unlike microgreens, I am not skeptical of basil. And there’s a ton on this rectangle. The tomatoes are chopped and sort of bland. The thin crust is delicious and stands up to the toppings. I know where this is from, and let’s just say it’s Campisi’s if Campisi’s pizza was good.

Oh, the flat, flatbread crust. I don’t love the combination of raw tomato and dried herbs. And the flat, somewhat tough crust doesn’t really do it for me.

Very flavorful. Lots of diced tomatoes and seasonings.

Sauce is sweet and they get pretty fancy with the spices. Crust is like an unwavering plank, it won’t flop over and lose all these chunky toppings.

Toppings fell right off, stringy basil got stuck in my teeth, hate the thin stupid crust. Last place.

This is Moonstruck, and, I’m guessing, Campisi’s. It is entirely stereotypical yet familiar and endearing. The oregano in the sauce is as heavy-handed as Nicolas Cage’s acting, and the topcoat of basil is as wild as Cher’s hair.

This one maxed out the herbs, and I dig that. Minor ding for having finely chopped tomato bits rather than larger chunks, but at least the red stuff is plentiful. 

Basil overload. I love basil and I still pulled some off. Crust is thin but holds its shape. I love that there is tomato sauce as well as fresh chopped tomatoes—a texture contrast. This seems like the sort of pizza that would get hard in the fridge and not reheat well, though.

Thin, crispy crust with lots of spices on top. Delicious!

I choked on the stringy basil pieces and nearly died. So this is a no for me. Also, diced tomatoes? Really?

Looove the thin crust. Not your traditional pizza but I really enjoy the thin crust, thin layer of sauce. This pizza is different, like a study abroad romance after you broke up with your beau.

 

Eno’s

Another square slice. This one’s got really colorful cherry tomatoes that have a ton of flavor. The shredded basil is nice. The crust gives out but who cares. It’s delicious. This tastes like summer.

Cute, garlicky whole blistered heirloom cherry tomatoes—pretty and fun! This one has to have a good, solid layer of cheese to stand up to those garlicky babies. No basil to speak of, though.

Made with cherry tomatoes, which pack more of a tomatoey punch if you get some in your bite. Minus points for soggy crust.

Love the basil and pops of flavor from the halved tomatoes. Plus lots of cheese. The crust kind of goes by the wayside but it gets the job done.

Lots of delicious garlic, I like the cherry tomatoes, very flavorful. A very close second place.

This is My Cousin Vinny. Not worth an Oscar win, but certainly amusing. Halved cherry tomatoes add humor to a wafer-thin crust.

I’m into these big ass grape tomatoes. Super garlic-y. I like.

Bland and boring. Needs more sauce, This would be a perfect vessel for ranch. If you don’t put ranch on your pizza, you’re wrong.

GARLIC shines through. Wish the crust was a little crispier.

I love the tomatoes on this one.

Nice use of a cherry tomato. It was cooked perfectly. The cheese was a little too thick and tangy for my liking, but its still good. Thank you, next.

 

ZaLat

This one has a balsamic drizzle. GTFO. I am always skeptical of a balsamic drizzle. I think it’s bullshit. It overpowers everything. Granted, I am typing this before I have taken a bite. Hold on. OK I bit into it and missed the drizzle. It’s good. Cheese is the best of the bunch so far. All right, time for a drizzle bite. It’s muted, but there’s a balsamic glaze aftertaste. This is stupid. Why did you do this? Why is that glaze necessary? The fresh mozzarella is nice. The sauce is kind of muted. I think I’m mostly mad about the glaze.

The crust is super-dry. Very stiff. Bready and uninteresting. The shredded basil tastes bruised. The cheese is fine. Meh.

Tastes like plain cheese pizza.

Whole tomato slices are refreshing and the crust brings the taste of the pizza oven into your mouth. I like the bit of char and the balsamic is nice.

Balsamic is good but crust is soggy. This is middle of the road.

The Godather Part III: you think you’re going to really like it, but in comparison to #1, it doesn’t quite cut the mostarda. Nice oregano in the sauce. A fine mix of fresh mozzarella and dried swirled with balsamic vinegar. Maybe it’s just trying a little too hard?

The most standard slice of the bunch. Pretty good, nice sized tomatoes, nothing special.

Thicker crust, quality cheese that I bet would have a spectacular cheese pull if I hadn’t let it get cold. Love the full tomato slices on top. There were balsamic drizzles on this one but I couldn’t really taste it.

I like the big slices of tomato on this one.

It’s like they were making a cheese pizza and some tomato slices and basil from a nearby pizza fell on the edge by accident. There’s almost no toppings.

The dough is what gets me, here. It’s very sweet and delightful. It’s not gourmet. Would take home to meet the parents.

 

Greenville Avenue Pizza Company

This one sucks. This is basically a cheese pizza. I get that a margarita pizza is a simple thing, but I don’t respect the lack of effort here.

Super greasy in appearance: I can see the oil floating on the cratered cheese surface. It’s like a moon’s surface of cheese. Boring, crackery crust. Not sure why we have a mix of several cheeses in here (including the orange). This reminds me of quintessential dorm pizza, only slightly grown up.

Cardboard cheese pizza.

Yellow and greasy, this one doesn’t need much sauce with its gobs of cheese and juicy tomatoes.

Great cheese flavor, but pretty greasy and chewy. Did not love.

This is To Rome With Love, with its cracker-thin crust crisped with olive oil, rich flavored sauce, slices of roma tomatoes, and good amount of basil. Transportive.

None of the components of this slice are flavorful. Nah.

This one looked more enticing than it tasted.

Solid pizza.

Super strong cheese. Where’s the basil?

Disappointing. It’s pizza, so of course it’s good. I’ve never met a pizza I don’t like. (Chuck E Cheeses was one of my favorites.) But I wouldn’t call this pizza back.

 

Cane Rosso

I will say that this is probably not the desired temperature Cane Rosso would intend for its pies to be eaten. That being said, it’s still super flavorful. This is the best sauce, hands down. The smoke from the oven comes through. The cheese is terrific. It’s a perfect pizza. Fight me if you disagree.

Another nice, Neapolitan-style crust. This time, a brunette, with pretty charred blisters. Nice and chewy, and second most flavorful (in terms of slightly fermented dough) of the crusts. Again, nice whole basil leaves and flavorful, quality cheese. This reminds me of being in Naples.

Nice fluffy crust, but bottom of pizza was burnt. Lacks flavor.

Chewy crust, a bit of tangy sauce and salt from the cheese – simple yet delicious! Tastes like Italy.

I always love Cane, but it’s not as good when it’s not hot and fresh. I’m meh on this.

The Donnie Brasco of pizzas. It looks like a margherita pizza with a chewy, lightly charred crust. It has a fresh-tasting tomato sauce. But flip it over and, on closer inspection, this feels like an imposter, looking more like a pita than a pizza.

By the time I got to this it was torn apart and no longer resembled a pizza, so my critique is that it doesn’t hold up well to slice-sharing (not a real critique) and also that my colleagues are heathens (real critique).

This one was boring so I put my leftover basil on it to spice it up. The crust wasn’t burnt but when I held it up to my nose, it smelled smoky.

Chewy crust. Similar to pizza number one.

I can barely taste this after the super cheesy flavor of number five, but I imagine this one would be the best , if by looks alone.

Has some nice, chewy crust. The layer of sauce is nice. Def marriage material.

 

Tally up:

Pie Tap 6

i Fratelli 2

Eno’s 0

ZaLat 0

Greenville Avenue Pizza Company0

Cane Rosso 3

The winner is: Pie Tap. You can read about their fancy, fermented dough here.

What do you think? What’s your favorite pizza in town? As always, feel free to jump in the comment section.

Oh, and Happy National Margarita Day.

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