Thursday, June 6, 2019

Review of Pizzeria Nonna

I've only thrown pizza into the trash twice in my life. Both times were from Pizzeria Nonna. I gave it a chance. Twice I gave it a chance... twice! I live in the neighborhood and I never want ANY business near my house to fail. I go out of my way to order all my vinyls and CDs from the independent shop a mile away even though I spend twice as much as an Amazon Prime member would – a friend routinely points this out.

I also love pizza. I love making pizza. I have about a half dozen different recipes for pizza dough that each provide two pies and I make a batch of one of those recipes every six weeks or so. When I need a quick lunch between double gigs I search to find the closest slice that is consistently appreciated by users of various apps. I will even resort to grabbing a slice from the “sub-par” place half a block from my apartment if I really have to because: how bad can pizza be? Seriously: even bad pizza is – at worst – okay pizza... Right?


Pizzeria Nonna is how bad pizza can be.

Did I mention that I PUT PIZZA INTO THE TRASH INSTEAD OF EATING IT?!?!?! TWICE?!? Both times I resorted to this self-inflicted torment was because (1) it was a Sunday and (2) I had just worked a double and still needed to walk the dog and (3) I had ZERO food in the house and (4) got home after 9:30pm. The two visits were separated by 4 months so this isn't a “one time mistake by an ex employee” situation. The second time I didn't throw the remainder of the pie away immediately like I did the first time. I waited until the next day and reheated a slice using the “Cooks Illustrated” method that, on a previous occasion, actually made a slice mediocre left-over pizza slightly better. (Here's how: Add one or two slices to a non-stick skillet with a tablespoon of water. Cover and cook on medium-high for 6 or  7minutes.)

Once reheated the cheese finally melted and the center of the pie discovered what being not raw felt like. Reheating also enhanced the cardboard blandness that was gag-worthy fresh (when the bottom of pizza was warm and moist) and made it boringly crunchy. The sauce was reminiscent of unseasoned porridge that had been treated with red food coloring. They do have nice sturdy boxes for what they pass off as a sell-able product. They obviously get their pizza ingredients from DollarTree so they have to be using their line of business credit somewhere.

I mentioned my sour experience to a friend who works at a shop nearby Nonna's. He says he ordered a “large pepperoni” and received a pizza covered with sweet peppers. His receipt said “Pepperoni” and was told by the person working at the counter that the “chef must have read it wrong”. I'm no expert on pizza ordering demographics and I'm just guessing that orders for pepperoni pizza are 17 times more common that orders for “pizza with sweet peppers” are. So my questions is: How does that misunderstanding even happen?

The best pizza I have had – and this even beats any of my home made ones – is from the food truck Ramble Pizza. Every type of pie/slice I have ever had from Ramble has been kick-ass. Find them on Instagram @ramblepizza. 

The next best option for me locally is Earth Bread and Brewery, which has excellent beer and an eclectic selection of flat breads. Earth is very good but it isn't pizza (nor do they claim to be) in the classic sense.

So in conclusion: Next time I am looking for classic mouth-watering slice of pizza (and Ramble is too far or not open) I'm going back to Evo. They have never been bad - they have never been great either.  But they are just three blocks away and deliver – or I could get off my fat-pizza-loving-ass and walk down there. The best part of my Pizzeria Nonna experience, both times, was walking with my dog to pick up the pie.  I do love that dog.

PS – on Friday nights Ramble Pizza is at Weavers Way at their Mt. Airy location. I work 49 Friday nights a year so I miss out. But you don't have to!

Easy Summer Garden Soup

So easy and so fresh.  Who knew a hearty home-cooked soup can be made from scratch in just about thirty minutes?  Use this recipe as a guide: try other veggies/herbs/toppings.  I know from other soups that zucchinis will fall apart and thicken the soup if cooked too long so I cut them small and only had them on active heat for a few minutes.

1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter*
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 stalks of celery, sliced 1/2 inch thick
garlic, as much as you like but no less than 2 cloves minced
3 cups vegetable stock
4 cups water
1/2 cup STARS pasta (or ditalini or alphabet shaped.. something small)
1 zucchini, quartered lengthwise, seeded, and sliced 1/2 thick
1 15 oz. can of any white/northern/navy bean, drained and rinsed
1 nice large tomato chopped
1/2 cup fresh peas (optional)
1/2-1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice (omit if not fresh)
1/8 or more cup of freshly chopped dill OR cilantro (don't use both)

  1. In Dutch oven melt butter with oil over medium high heat.  Just as it starts to bubble add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Saute for about 4 minutes - until translucent.  Add the carrots and celery and stir to combine.  Cook another 4 or 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.
  3. Add stock and water and pasta.  Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook 5 minutes.
  4. Add zucchini, beans, tomato and peas.  Continue simmering for about 5 minutes.
  5. Off heat add lemon juice and herb.  Salt and pepper to taste.
* VEGAN VARIATION: Omit butter and use 2 tablespoons of olive oil total in Step 1.

Serve with a salad made up of other items from your garden!
Serve topped with finely grated nutty or sharp cheese (like a pecorino)!
Serve with crusty bread for dippin'!
Try using canned chickpeas instead of beans!