Wednesday, January 4, 2012


First on my list of pizzerias to try was Nonna's in the Twin Hickory area of Glen Allen. When we first started talking about pizza at work, Nonna's was highly recommended by a fellow northeast transplant co-worker.

One thing before the review - I am attempting to keep as true a comparison as possible between pizza joints, so I am comparing only cheese pizza and ordering single (reheated) slices when possible. (Nonna's sells cheese by the slice so that was easy to stick to here.)

Why the reheated slices, you may ask? The sign of a great pizza place is reheated slices that taste as good, if not better, than a fresh pie. This is also the signature of good NY-style pizza. I realize that not all places will offer a by-the-slice option, but as often as I can I plan to order by the slice.

Now the review: (All out of 8 slices - the typical number in a NY style pie)

Crust: 6 slices
Sauce: 3 slices
Cheese: 6 slices
Overall: 4 slices

Commments: Nonna's totes itself as NY-style pizza, and it is. The crust definitely was what I was looking for - crispy, but foldable. The slices themselves were huge (as they should be). I was missing that warm, cheesy pizza smell though. The reheated slices that I got were hot enough, but had no aroma - they smelled like nothing. The first bite was okay, if a little bland- nice sauce to cheese to crust ratio, but after a few bites I noticed a slightly burnt plastic taste lingering in my mouth. Not pleasant. I couldn't even finish the two slices that I bought due to this residual taste. Maybe it was something in the reheating that caused this, but I won't be rushing back for pizza anytime soon. The pizza was lacking in flavor anyway. (The garlic bread, on the other hand, was great - buttery, garlicky, and crispy! I would also like to try some of the italian meals that they had as they looked good from what was patrons' tables...)

Bottom Line: While yes, Nonna's is NY-style, the lack of overall flavor (good flavor, that is) of the slices won't have me rushing back anytime soon.

Next week: Pizza Place

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Search Begins...

I moved to Richmond, VA from upstate NY about 5 months ago. I had lived in NY state my entire life up to that point, and since have realized that there were several things about living in NY that I took for granted. Here's a short list:

- good tart apples (particularly McIntosh)
- maple syrup that doesn't come from Canada
- Italian bakeries and their delicious cannolis
- being a day trip from NYC
- being a day trip from the Adirondacks, Berkshires, and Catskills
- bagels (the "bagels" here are just donut-shaped bread)

This is not to say that there isn't "pizza" to be found in RVA - it is a college town, after all. It's just that what passes for pizza here is not what we New Yorkers would consider pizza. It's often square (sicilian style, NYers would call that), or is what I would call a "flatbread' - it's pizza-esque in shape, but not in toppings. (Think California Pizza Kitchen or another "gourmet" pizza chain - toppings such as potatoes, thai peanut sauce, and the like are delicious, but are not found on "pizza".) There's also the chain places like Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Dominos, and Uno around here, but none of them make the traditional NY style slice either.

To those of you unfamiliar, NY-style pizza is unique. It's not baked in a brick or wood-fired oven, but rather a long, flat, narrow, super-hot oven that gives the thin crust a chewy top and a crispy bottom. The sauce is savory, not sweet or spicy like a lot of chains tend to do. The sauce to cheese ratio tends to be about 1 to 1 1/2 - thin layer of sauce, then layer of real mozzarella cheese slightly thicker than the sauce (not "fresh" mozz, not cheddar, not provolone, or another random cheese). As for toppings, NY-style generally goes for the basics - pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, olives, peppers. Several of my favorite pizza joints back home also did the chicken parm, baked ziti, white broccoli, and buffalo chicken varities as well. While not as traditional, I do qualify these as "pizza" due to the crust. The true key to a good slice is the crust. A good NY style slice is thin enough to be foldable, and meant to be folded - a since crease down the middle of the slice to catch the greasy goodness. It's the crispy-chewy-thin combinatin that makes a pizza a NY-style pizza. And that is what I am missing in what I have found here so far.

So the search begins for a decent slice of NY-style pizza in the Capital of the South. There are plenty of pizza options here in RVA. Over the next few months I am going to attempt to visit as many as I can in search of my beloved style, or even a decent substitute. Richmond readers, your suggestions are welcome!

Yelp, Urbanspoon, you will be my close friends in this quest, and I'm sure there will be reviews popping up from me there as well.

Stay tuned for the pizza news...