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Jul 25, 2007 06:26 AM

Chapel Hill Pizza Update

Though I have been walking Franklin Street for quite a few years, I had never tried Peppers. I had once stopped in for a slice, but some tattooed teenage snot gave me a hard time and I walked out (this kind of thing happens a lot downtown: I once had the philistine audacity to rent "The O.C." at Visart Video and the clerk frisbeed my credit card at my face). In any case, the reopened Peppers a few doors down seems to have toned down the punk rock attitude considerably, and I decided to give it a proper try. The result was complete disappointment. The music was loud and grating; the plates were filthy; and my request for an "extra crispy" pie yielded a distinctly underbaked pie, pale and doughy. The pie was comparable to those served at Franklin Street's three other mediocre pizzerias. Too much cheese glopped atop a heavy and cardboardy crust.

A while ago I took the advice of Suse (I believe) and headed to Bocci near Southpoint. I have come to share her opinion that while not exemplary, Bocci's pizza is the best in the area. The NY Style edges out Alfredo's, but I like even better the brick-oven style, which is lighter and crispier and redolent of garlic. The crust is a tad cardboardy where it should be gluteny but otherwise it's a fine pizza. Bocci is not going to erase a yearning for Wooster Square or the North End, but it makes the best of a bad situation.

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  1. Have you tried Amante's Pizza in Carrborro (and Durham, and Cary)? It's my personal delivery choice here (for basic, not-fancy 'za). I've heard other people (young UNC grads) speak fondly of Peppers, but I never saw the attraction.

    Amante Gourmet Pizza
    300 E Main St Ste F, Carrboro, NC 27510

    3 Replies
    1. re: ksherk

      Peppers is all about the scene, not about the pizza (thoroughly mediocre). Amante, particularly their "Specialty Gourmet Pizzas" are ok. Amante seems to be the default for most UNC departments.

      I like Alfredos (whole pies much better than slices) but love IP3. Part of it is that I like the people and that they air soccer matches but Angelo and Vinnie also make a really good pizza. It isn't anything pretentious or fancy, just good, simple pizza.

      Alfredo's Pizza Villa
      201 S Estes Dr, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

      Italian Pizzeria III
      508 W Franklin St, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

      1. re: brokegradstudent

        Numerous people have extolled Italian Pizzeria III on this board. I can appreciate that the atmosphere is appealingly unpretentious and authentically northeastern feeling, but I found the pie to be not that different from the pies at Franklin St. Pizzeria and NY Pizza. It all tastes the same to me: nondescript cheese and characterless crust. Alfredo's stands slightly apart by virtue of its crust, which has some texture and spring. The rule of thumb is that pizza crust must succeed by the standards of bread; it cannot be a mere cheese-delivery device.

        Easily the best pizza in town -- though belonging to an entirely different tradition and price category -- is served at Panzanella. Amante never thrilled me; among other problems, it has a weird flavor.


        1. re: Sinophile

          I *really* like the pizza at Panzanelle (which I believe you first pointed me to), especially the pesto one. I do find that the tomatoes or eggplant can make it a little soggy though. Still and all, a great pie.

          And I'm an Alfredo fan for when I just want a good, bendy slice of pizza.

    2. David,

      have you tried Mellow Mushroom's pizza? I declare it my favorite pizza joint now. The crust is definitely not NY style. It has a nice chewy texture with a nutty, sourdoughy flavor. But what sets their pizzas apart are the toppings. Very fresh and they don't skimp. The American Tobacco location has to be one of if not the most attractive pizza restaurant in the Triangle.

      And their salads and subs are good too.

      1. I'm a big fan of Pepper's "House Stromboli" (no peppers & add mushrooms). But yeah, I think the main draw is the punk/indy atmosphere.

        1. I like a couple of Peppers' specialty slices because of the ingredients, but their standard pie isn't anything more than average.

          If I want good pizza, I head to Sal's at the corner of MLK and Homestead. They will make the crust extra crispy if you ask, and it's good. Order pepperoni and garlic... yum.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Graig

            Agreed, Sal's is way better than anything on Franklin!

            I am a big fan of Ciao Bella at Cole Park Plaza between CH and Pittsboro. I hate 'zza with too much cheese, and their slices have just a slight sprinkle of cheese, and the topping you select is featured more prominently.

            And...AND! It's far enough out of the way so that it's not overrun with tarhooligan athletic event attendees on gamedays.

          2. I for one like Peppers quite a bit. I think their red sauce is what makes it. They or IPIII is where I end up for a slice depending on which side of Franklin I'm on at the time.