|A 12" pie from Grotto|
In general, I avoid chain pizza. Most of it is made with inferior mass-sourced ingredients, both to allow a low price and to appeal to the palates of children and ravenous drunks.
|Click on any pic for full size image|
Having said that, some chains execute at a very high level, especially the smaller ones like Bertucci's, Anthony's Coal-Fired Pizza, Jules Thin Crust, and Monical's. Even California Pizza Kitchen is pretty good. Click on any of those for a full review.
With that in mind, I was open to Grotto pie, given the love it gets from locals.
|We didn't try the Gelato|
We were on the beach on a beautiful sunny day, and this Grotto location (Route 1 at Read Street) was just a one block walk. I chose a 12" pie with pepperoni, and to my surprise it took 15 minutes to get it. This tells me that they made the pie fresh when ordered - none of this pre-cooked or pre-assembled slop. I forget the exact price, but it came to over $15 for this small pie; I presume this was "beach pricing."
The strength of this pie was its crust, which was sturdy, with both good crunch and chewiness, and a nice interior hole structure. All that, despite having been baked on a screen. The sauce and cheese were suitably bland (but salty), and applied in about an ideal proportion. The pepperoni was surprisingly spicy.
|Damn good crust!|
|Cooked on a screen, but still well-executed|
This pizza passes our "does it beat DiGiorno" pizza test. It's not destination pizza, but it beats 90% of the mom-n-pop stuff, and it is miles ahead of Domino's, Papa John's, and Pizza Hut.
|Pizza at the beach? No complaints here|
The crust gets a 7, the sauce a 6, the cheese and pepperoni 5. Overall, 6.5 pizza. Chain pizza can be just fine, but mostly when it is a regional, smaller one. Still wise to avoid the giant national chains.