Monday, May 28, 2012

Review: Pizza by Elizabeths (updated)

We made our first trip to Pizza by Elizabeths (Greenville, DE) in July of 2011. It was a quick stop for a takeout order that was re-heated at home, several hours after purchase. We liked it a lot and you can read our review here: P-B-E Review, July 2011 .
"The Montgomery" from our first visit

Because it's such an elegant dining spot (especially for a pizza-focused menu), we wanted to get back there and enjoy the dine-in experience. That opportunity came and we arrived at lunchtime. The place was busy but not full; we were seated promptly near a window in this large space. Our young server was attentive and helpful.

Rather than ordering one of the specialty pies on the menu (each named for a famous Elizabeth), we chose to custom-order our own pies. For PQ (Pizza Quixote), the toppings included conventional mozzarella, Italian sausage, and the chunky version of their red sauce. For EPBAC (eats pizza but avoids cheese), we got a bit more creative and ordered it with traditional red sauce, crab, and artichoke.
The view from our table. Click to enlarge

While we waited for the pizza, the server brought our drinks (cherry coke and mango iced tea) and a salad that we shared -- fresh field greens with curried/candied toasted pecans and a creamy balsamic dressing. Thumbs up to all of that!

Both pizzas had a wonderful crust, and this experience reinforces the Pizza Quixote Rule that pizza is defined by the crust. This crust was crisp and charred on the bottom, but softer and chewier throughout. It was neither Trenton/NY style nor Neapolitan, but probably closer to Neapolitan. In addition to its excellent texture, it had a nice yeasty flavor and of course there were no pizza bones left behind.
Mozzarella, sausage, chunky tomato, basil

The crab-artichoke pie?  This experience reinforced another Pizza Quixote Rule: when you define a pizza by its toppings, failure is likely. The crust on this one was cooked a tad darker, likely because it did not have the heavy cheese and chunky tomatoes to absorb the heat. We actually loved the crust. The red sauce was thinly applied, and probably was a bad choice to go with the other ingredients. I love fresh artichoke, and I enjoy canned artichoke in a salad, but this pie had big quarters of artichoke piled on, and it did not click at all. I pulled them off and ate them as a side dish.
The underside of the crust

From now on, if I want artichoke on my pizza, I will go to Artichoke Basille in NYC; see my reviews here: First visit to Artichoke Basille and here: Second visit to Artichoke Basille. The crab was another mistake. If seafood is going onto a pizza, it better be in a well-considered recipe that the pizza maker has created, as we found with the lobster-mascarpone pie at Cambridge 1, reviewed here: Cambridge 1 (MA) Pizza. This pizza was a failure, but it was my fault.

We brought home three slices of the experimental pie after eating the artichoke and crab toppings.  At home, I added some cheese and some soppressata slices before heating it in the toaster oven, and it was delicious.

My sausage pie was terrific; beyond the crust, the bright red chunky tomatoes were a highlight, bursting with a sweet/salty flavor. The sausage was good if not quite memorable. The cheese was a role player. There was a bit too much, and it had not developed any browning or bubbling on top. I rate the crust an 8.5, the tomatoes a 9, the cheese a 5, the sausage a 6. Overall, this pie comes in at 7.5. Not quite destination pie, but the combo of the lovely upscale space, good service, good sides, and very good pizza is powerful. One important suggestion: how about a Betty Draper pie?!

Pizza By Elizabeths Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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