Where we went: Blue Grotto Pizza
Address: 1610 E. Carson St., Southside
What we ordered: One slice each (these are huge) Pepperoni, 2 Boylan Root Beer
Review: Last night my friend sent me one of my favorite text messages, “Wanna go to the Pens game tonight?”. OF COURSE I DO. I met up with him after work to grab the tickets, changed, then headed back downtown to meet Ed Amame (twitter @therealedamame) and headed over to Consol Energy Center.
We stopped off in Fridays prior to going into the game and had a beer and had the memorable conversation of “You know, they could have put ANYTHING in this space and it would have done well. A Fridays, CiCi’s, doesn’t matter, this place would be packed for any game”. I then mentioned they should have put a Mineos here, but that might have been a bit much.
After the game I kind of persuaded him, and myself (still full from nachos), to go down to Saus Side and check out this Blue Grotto Pizza I’ve heard so much about. Just remember, parking is a pain in the neck here, so unless you get lucky with an parking spot right in front, plan to walk a block or two.
If you recall, this place was previously Blue Giotto. We were greeted by two dudes, one sharing a Black Flag bar tattoo like myself (hand shake was exchanged) who told us that they had changed ownership and basically just changed one letter to make it “Grotto”. They started going into what kind of pizza they offered and EVERYTHING looked delicious. They had a few pizzas of different variety stacked and ready to be served as slices (Neapolitan, margherita, Bianca) and I could feel my mouth watering as they rattled off the ingredients. This place reminded me of some of the many pizza shops I’ve wandered into late night on my visits to New York City.
“Everything is fresh, daily. The sauce, the dough, bread, and oh, this pizza has really expensive cheese on it”, which made me laugh a bit. I wish I had gone hungrier because I really need to try the Bianca, I guess that means I’ll have to go back…DAMN.
Ed and I both ordered a slice of the Neapolitan with pepperoni and a coke. Oh wait, they don’t have coke. They have BOYLAN (root beer/ginger ale/black cherry/cream soda). I mean that’s straight up bonus points right there. I always welcome a good Root Beer.
After a good ten minutes, we finally stuffed ourselves of all the pizza we could take, and headed out. “Everything good guys? How was it? Hope to see you both back”. There is really good customer service here. I will go back, for sure. Below is the breakdown.
Crust: 8/10 –You know I told Ed that I wouldn’t sugarcoat this and I’d be honest, but after more thought I can’t deny, this crust was fantastic. Soft, chewy, little crunch, it was so fresh I can’t give it any less than an eight. Loved it.
Sauce: 8/10 –The sauce was fantastic here. A strong tomato taste, fresh, just the right amount for this type of pizza.
Cheese: 5/10 –It just wasn’t cooked enough. This could just be my own personal tastes weighing in on this, but I need my cheese a little more solid than this. The 50/50 mozzarella and provolone mix were surely the reasons it was stringy and gooey, but tonight this got a 50/100 for the grade.
Toppings: 6/10 –Grotto has my favorite pepperoni. The same as Fiori’s, the same as my childhood favorite Nigro’s, the kind that curls up and holds that puddle of grease. But why tonight did this not have any flavor? It didn’t hold up to the standards of the puddle pepp, and therefore have to give the appropriate grade.
Presentation: 7/10 –If I were judging ALL of the other pizzas PRIOR to them being made, this place would have a 15/10…or something. This looked good, but I could tell that it wasn’t going to be my favorite when it came out, which lost some points.
Bonus Points: 2 –The Boylan pop snags Grotto an extra 2 points.
Overall Grade: 36/50, 72% – I need to go back and I will go back. There is plenty more pizza here to try other than the one I had. With the great customer service, atmosphere, expensive cheese and boylan root beer, I urge you to go and check out what all the hype is about. With the demise of Little Chicago’s Pizza, Grotto and their traditional Italian slices can more than likely hold their own with Pizza Sola (more traditional New York style) and Michaels (mmm. Steeler buffet RIP). Hopefully this creates a new trend in Southside.
Disclaimer: If you think that my grading scale is harsh, remember that I grade each trip as its own experience. Have I had a perfect slice? Nah. I’d basically say that if something I review gets better than a 70%, I’d go again and more than likely tell you to go as well. I don’t even think my favorite pizza place would get a 100% and if it did, there would be no reason to do this blog other than my love for pizza. Remember, the quest for the perfect slice. That’s what I’m after.