Tag Archives: pizza quest

Pizza Quest Eats at Joe’s

With Pizza Quest now starting to run out of locations (I believe I have three or four spots left on my list), I trekked down to Joe’s Pizza in the West End between Alabama and Wyoming Ave.  You can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe these guys recently moved here from their older shop in the Waldbaum’s shopping center.  Pizza impressions follow.

The rules of Pizza Quest can be found here.

The Regular Slice

During this entire process, I’ve found myself going from pizzeria to pizzeria and have been splitting hairs between amazing slices of pizza.  It’s always been between good, great, and greater.  Joe’s thankfully made my life very easy.  From the initial look before being tossed in the oven, I knew this was going to be hell.  The slice looked tired, dry, and plastic.  Out of the oven, that appearance persisted.

The first bite was terrible.  I received the resounding impression of rubber and sogginess.  The bite was followed by several other equally disappointing nibbles.  From the first touch, nothing on this slice seemed crisp or fresh.  The overall slice was floppy and handled like a wet piece of bread.  The cheese tasted worse than something found in a high school cafeteria.  The sauce: like some kind of sour bargain brand at Waldbaums.  The only redeeming quality was that the end bit of crust was crisp and flavorful.  The slice was mercifully insubstantial, extraordinarily thin with little sauce and cheese on its wafer-flat crust, so I was able to get through it quick.

The Wildcard (Grandma’s)

I’ve never had a greater challenge selecting the wildcard slice.  Most pizzeria’s pride themselves on their fun speciality slices – mixing weird toppings and often whatever they have handy in the kitchen.  I still dream about Davinici’s Pizzeria Vodka Slice or Gino’s Buffalo slice.  At Joe’s I was trying to find the lesser evil.  Every slice I saw in the case looked old and stale.  The Grandma’s slice at least looked small, so I figured I could work my way through it fast.

At first, I thought I might have gotten lucky because the crust was much crisper and actually looked pretty good.  After the first bite though, that optimism was crushed.  The dollops of sauce were actually so tangy it was like biting into an entire oregano plant, and finished with the tartness of bitter – cold – tomato sauce.  The “cheesy bread” that basically made up the slice was greasy with a hard-skin cheese crust.

Rating

I want to be entirely clear that, yes, I went in the middle of the day and perhaps that explains why everything looked old.  Perhaps the turnover wasn’t quite as fast as it normally is at dinner time.  Well, I call shenanigans on that.  Every other location I’ve visited on Pizza Quest was during the middle of the day and I’ve never seen such seemingly stale pizza for sale.  If I was behind the counter, I would have a hard time allowing a customer to select some of what I saw on display.

I could make better pizza with a bag of cheese, jar of sauce, and English muffin in my toaster.  In a town with so many pizzerias – good and great pizzerias – Joe’s must step up its game and start taking lessons from their neighbors.  Bottom line, Joe’s Pizza gets placed below the bottom of this list, a position I don’t see them relinquishing.

Long Beach Pizza Quest Standings

Because a number means nothing, I think it is all about how each slice compares to the others.  Because of that, I’m using a relative rating system.  As I head out to more establishments, it will become more clear who stands out.

(Higher on the list is better)

West End Pizza

Davinici’s Pizzeria

Gino’s

Brucie’s Bel Aire

East End Pizza

 Joe’s Pizza

Davinici’s Pizzeria (Best LB Pizza in Island Park?)

Pizza Quest drove across the Long Beach Bridge (recently renamed the Michael Valente Bridge in honor of LB’s only Medal of Honor winner) to sample Davinici’s fine Italian food.  How was their slice?  Quite good.

The rules of Pizza Quest can be found here.

The Regular Slice

I’ve heard an awful lot of good things about Davinci’s and was very curious how their pizza stacked up against all the others.  It’s difficult to really break this slice down into elements – it’s simply very, very good.  Each part does its job properly – from the crust, to the cheese, to the sauce.  I will say again – and this is clearly turning into a theme – that the crust was a bit thicker than it needed to be, though their was a much better flavor here than in previous doughy examples.

The Wildcard (Ala Vodka)

Wow is all I can say.  I’ve ordered weird speciality slices from every pizza place I’ve ever been to (Long Beach and beyond) and I’ve never even seen a “ala Vodka” slice on the menu.  Basically, it was a thin grandma’s style crust, with fresh mozz and ala vodka sauce.  The sauce was perfect, the cheese delicious, and the crust thin and crisp.  Instead of the heavy mess of food that is a penne ala vodka slice – loaded with sauce and pasta, this was light and delicious.  This was without a doubt, the best “speciality” slice I’ve encountered during the quest, and look forward to ordering a pie of it alone!

Rating

Without a doubt, Davinci’s is in the top tier of Long Beach pizza.  I was half-concerned I would have to fend off a riot when I had to declare Davinici’s the best pizza in (near) Long Beach, but in the end, it does fall short of West End Pizza.

Long Beach Pizza Quest Standings

(Higher on the list is better)

West End Pizza

Davinici’s Pizzeria

Gino’s

Brucie’s Bel Aire

East End Pizza

 

Brucie’s Bel Aire (Pizza Quest)

Attached to Matteo’s on New York Ave in the West End sits Brucie’s Bel Aire.  They were paid a visit by the pizza fairy yesterday.  My impressions and ranking follows.

The rules of Pizza Quest can be found here.

The Regular Slice

In a word?  Good.  Everything was tasty, but the crust became the biggest issue.  From the first bite on, the crust was not particularly crispy, and if anything, was a bit thick.  Towards the top of the slice this more true and detracted from the overall slice experience.

The Wildcard (Spinach)

It looked oh so good, but I left disappointed.  The spinach itself was oily and heavy.  The crust was excessively thick and bland at the end.

Rating

Bottom line, Brucie’s regular slice was good and I’d be happy to have it any day.  That said, I think it suffered from the same doughy crust syndrome that Gino’s did, but Gino’s individual ingredients pushed their slice slightly (ever so) above Brucie’s.  Brucie’s had a lot of interesting things to offer and I look forward to trying more of their pizza in the future.

Because a number means nothing, I think it is all about how each slice compares to the others.  Because of that, I’m using a relative rating system.  As I head out to more establishments, it will become more clear who stands out.

Long Beach Pizza Quest Standings

(Higher on the list is better)

West End Pizza

Gino’s

Brucie’s Bel Aire

East End Pizza

West End Joins the Debate (Pizza Quest)

Continuing Pizza Quest, I pulled up a booth at West End Pizza (corner of Beech and Wyoming)  for what some locals call “the best slice” in Long Beach – but what do West Enders know?  Quite a bit it seems.

The rules of Pizza Quest can be found here.

The Regular Slice

A crisp thin crust matched with a great ratio of sauce to cheese.  Everything you could want in a slice, cooked to perfection without tasting of raw dough or burnt cheese.  The only downside?  Perhaps a bit greasy for a regular slice without toppings.

The Wildcard (Chicken Marsala)

Though it can’t be seen in the picture, this actually had a sesame seed crust like its cousin pizzeria in the East End.  The slice was heavy without being soggy or over loaded.  The Marsala sauce mixed well with the chicken and mushrooms.  All and all a nice specialty slice without much issue, though nothing spectacular.

Rating

Now, I know pizza is sacred in Long Beach, and my next sentence may be blasphemous to some (and I thought I would never say it myself), but as regular slices go, West End’s is superior to Gino’s.  After eating West End’s regular slice I really got everything I wanted in a piece of pizza.  Having eaten nearly everything Gino’s makes, I think their only weakness is their regular slice itself, and West End shines there.

Because a number means nothing, I think it is all about how each slice compares to the others.  Because of that, I’m using a relative rating system.  As I head out to more establishments, it will become more clear who stands out.

Long Beach Pizza Quest Standings

(Higher on the list is better)

West End Pizza

Gino’s

East End Pizza

It’s Gino’s Turn (Pizza Quest)

For lunch today, I stopped into Gino’s.  The order – regular slice, buffalo slice.

For more info on Pizza Questcheck out the post here

The Regular Slice

Good, without question.  Great balance of sauce, crust, cheese.  Very much a Neapolitan style pizza.  Underneath the goods, the base crust has a great crispness and compliments the package well.  The only thing I found was the end crust itself was a bit dry and bland.  Whether it’s because the end of the crust is a bit thicker or due to a lack of sauce and cheese goodness, the end had a doughy taste to it.

The Buffalo Slice

Very good.  Awesome blend of chicken, a mild hot sauce, and a blue cheese/ranch drizzle over the top.  Again though, the end crust had a dull and dry finish to the slice.

Rating

Because a number means nothing, I think it is all about how each slice compares to the others.  Because of that, I’m using a relative rating system.  As I head out to more establishments, it will become more clear who stands out.

Long Beach Pizza Quest Standings

(Higher on the list is better)

Gino’s

East End Pizza

Pizza Quest Makes Its First Stop (East End Pizza)

So after a few delays, I’ve finally got my pizza eating campaign in full swing.

For more info on Pizza Quest, check out the post here

Today’s stop?  East End Pizza on Park Ave

Following the rules, I ordered a regular slice, and for a wildcard, a white slice.

The Regular Slice

An underwhelming “meh.”  I found the slice, even though fresh, a bit bland and dull.  The cheese wasn’t particularly flavorful and did not adhere to the crust well.  The sauce was a bit more of the thicker “old world” style with chunks of herbs in it.  The slice itself was actually a bit more wedge-shaped than normal which was odd.  The crust was OK.

The Wildcard (White Slice)

Wow.  This was good, really good.  Probably one of the best white slices I’ve ever had.  The ingredients were amazing, from the Parmesan to the ricotta.  Delicious.  The crust, much better, with the sesame seed edge adding so much extra flavor.

Speaking a bit more broadly about East End, there specialty really seems to be, well, there specialty slices.  Looking across the counter, they must have had 15 varieties of pizza, fresh and looking delicious.  From taco pizza, to chicken and broccoli and BBQ pizza.  My advice – always order a sesame seed crust and look beyond their regular slice if you want the good stuff.

Rating

Because a number means nothing, I think it is all about how it compares to the others.  Because of that, I’m using a relative rating system.  Right now it will just have East End, but as I head out to more establishments, It will become clear who stands out.

Long Beach Pizza Quest Standings

(Higher on the list is better)

– East End Pizza

War & Pizza: A quick wrap up of yesterday’s stories.

The day started out with Pizza (see – The 2011 Pizza Quest). Shaun’s ambitious project of eating a slice from every local Pizza establishment. He’s looking for your help in finding the best pizza in Long Beach. Shaun writes “(Pizza is) more important than parking.  It’s more important than politics.  Long Beach is really all about the pizza.”  The Pizza Quest is still on, so submit your reviews and photos. It’s true, pizza is more important than politics, unfortunately later that day it was politics that took over.

On The Beach House Facebook page was the following comment regarding a violent act that occurred on the Boardwalk at Lincoln Avenue this past Monday night (Sept 19th):

good morning everyone. a close friend of ours was robbed and beaten at gun point last night on the long beach boardwalk. we want to wish him a speedy recovery and also, we want the city of long beach to stop the growing epidemic of violent crimes being perpetrated on the boardwalk at night by gangs and thugs! all too often it is happening and it is being swept under the rug in order to protect revenue for the city. yes, i said it! this is our family! this is our city! do something!

We reported this right away (see – Boardwalk Violence – Man Robbed and Beaten, Possibly at Gunpoint). That Beach House facebook post has since been deleted, but the Long Beach Herald picked up our story and went straight to City Manager Charles Theofan for a comment:

“There was a man jogging on the boardwalk at around 10:20 p.m. by Lincoln Boulevard,” Theofan said. “He was accosted by five youths, and they punched him in the head and stole his iPod and iPhone.”

So no gun?

Shaun decided to contact Mr. Theofan directly for the details. Here is what our City Manager had to say:

The reality is that a male jogger was mugged at 10:20 PM at Lincoln Blvd. by 5 teenagers, one of whom punched him in the head knocking down, he might have lost consciousness momentarily. The ran off and he realized they had taken his iphone. There was NO gun or any weapon involved.

Again, no gun? Wanting to clarify that detail, Shaun contacted Mr. Theofan again. He also asked of other boardwalk attacks that we were hearing about.

I’ve continued to report that a gun was present because that is what I heard from the friend of the victim.  I will consider that claim now suspect based on your input.

Mr. Theofan wrote back confirming that no gun was involved and that we had two Boardwalk Robberies in three Days. I don’t remember reading about the other one anywhere. Hmm.. I am not going on the boardwalk at night anymore…

Last night we were directed to a similar post as the Beach House one, which clearly states that a gun was indeed involved in this violent crime. This is from Long Beach 411, a facebook page:

Please Read, I don’t post often but this needs to get out…Long Beach people be careful of running on the boardwalk at night. My boyfriend was running right past the Aqua and was jumped tonight by 8 guys at 9:40pm, he had a gun pointed at him, and was taken to the hospital with head injuries and just returned home. I’m soo disgusted with people but thankful that he is ok. (UPDATE: I am hearing now that the victim is going to see an neurologist. Let’s all pray and hope he has a speedy recovery. We are all thinking of you!)

Provided that these posts are true, it’s nice to hear that the victim is ok. That wraps up yesterday. Today is another day so let’s see what it brings us.

For an even faster wrap up of yesterday’s news, click on the links below:

Pizza

Gun.

No Gun.

No Gun.

Gun.

 

The 2011 Pizza Quest

It’s more important than parking.  It’s more important than politics.  Long Beach is really all about the pizza.

There wasn’t one hour that went by during the Quiksilver Pro commentary when the broadcasters didn’t bring up their love for Gino’s and the food here.  Comparing East End Pizza to West End Pizza can lead to fisticuffs.

A quick search on Yelp yields over 10 places that claim to serve the delicious feast of cheese, bread, and sauce.  Google Maps has even more.  Like wings, I consider myself an aficionado (really a snob) when it comes to this Italian-American delight.  I even said a few days ago “there’s never a time that I’m not in the mood for pizza,” and that goes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  But of course, everyone has their claim for the best.  Full disclosure, I’m going into this leaning towards Gino’s already, but will keep an open mind.

So today, I set out on an ambitious project and need your help.  I will eat, photograph, and review, a slice of regular pizza, and one “wildcard” slice from every establishment in Long Beach.  Don’t expect quick results here, I need something to entertain for the next few months as the winter sets in.  What I’d love is if you all chime in as well.  For every establishment I go to, any user can also submit a photo and a brief (two or three lines tops) review of the same regular slice and I’ll add it into the same post.

The Rules

I’ll order one regular slice at each location (not an entire pie)

I’ll order one additional “wildcard” slice that will be whatever looks good or a specialty at that location.  This is mostly just because one slice won’t fill me.

A photo of each slice will be taken

I’ll then write together just a few lines on the slice.  I’ll focus on crust, sauce, cheese, cook, and how it all comes together.

Also, I will not tell the business owners I’m reviewing their food so that I don’t always get the “fresh” slice.

The “winner” will of course get the SeaByTheCity seal of approval.

One note, I will consider expanding to addresses that are on the barrier island but not Long Beach if readers think that will be a more thorough investigation

The List (subject to change)

There are certainly more, so please submit the rest in comments below

Updated 9/22: Please keep helping with this list

Sorrento’s
Gino’s Restaurant & Pizzeria
East End Pizza
West End Pizza
Disalvo’s Pizza & Restaurant (Closed)
Domino’s Pizza (Damnit, I guess I have to stop here)
Mike’s Plaza Pizza
Surf City Pizza (I believe they may still be closed)
Brucie’s Bel Aire Pizzeria (Attached to Matteo’s)
Joe’s Pizza (West End on Beech)
San Remo (Possible Name – West End)
Vito’s

The Maybe List

Olive Oil (Point Lookout)
DaVinci’s (Island Park)

User Submissions

If you’d like to contribute, please snap a quick shot of the slice (camera phone is fine), note the location, and put together a two or three line review.  Email me here at shaun@seabythecity.com with “Pizza Quest” in the subject line and I’ll add your submission to the post.

So, happy pizza eating everyone and I’ll be sure to have my first stop written up shortly.