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Sep 12, 2008 10:55 PM

How does Napoli Pizza in Charlotte rate?

Have any you pizza experts tried the pizza at Napoli Pizza on the corner of Monroe and Eastway in Charlotte? I really like their pizza, but I'm not a big pizza eater and was wondering how they stack up for pizza experts.

Some background on why I ask: I came to the US at 10 from Taiwan and the first pizza I had was at this food court place in the old Eastridge Mall in Gastonia, and that was the "best" pizza in my mind and my benchmark for comparison. I don't know if that pizza was actually really good, or just what I thought was good because it was my first pizza. But maybe I did get lucky the first time and found the real thing in Gastonia, because I remember the owner "Tony" said he was Italian, spoke with an Italian accent, and hand tossed the dough, which in Gastonia in 1979 had to be pretty unusual. My parents owned the Chinese place next door, so for about two years I got a sausage slice after school a few times a week. The pizza was thin and big, with a crusty, chewy edge. Tony used a sauce from a can, and this sausage that looked like rabbit pellets, which he spread in a single layer on top of the mozzarella, covering the whole pie with almost no space in between.

We moved to Charlotte and I never found pizza like that again, with that type of sausage (except at the old Godfathers Pizza, but the crust was different), and I've looked too. I've had thin crust pizza since, and places that said they were New York style, but they all use either marble-sized balls of sausage, or sliced up Italian sausage.

But then I found Napoli, and it's about as close to the pizza of my childhood as I've ever found -- same rabbit-pellet sausage, maybe a little too much cheese because I get just a couple of slices instead of a whole pie, which means he starts with a cheese slice, adds the sausage layer, and then more cheese on top, before heating. But it's close, and the crust is almost as thin and chewy like I remembered, with a chewy bready edge.

So here's what I'm wondering for any pizza experts who have tried Napoli's or know the type of pizza I'm describing:

1) What kind of pizza is that? New York, New Jersey? Rhode Island? I did read somewhere these guys are from Naples and they also own Almafi's, which I've never tried.

2) Is the rabbit pellet sausage authentic, or kind of like finding Chicken Chow Mein on an old-school Chinese-American restaurant?

3) Is Napoli's pizza pretty decent for you connoisseurs, or is it average and I just think it's good because it's like what I had as a kid?

Major extra points if anybody knows the Tony's pizza I'm talking about from Eastridge Mall in Gastonia and what happened to him.

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  1. I really enjoyed reading your post. Very interesting story. I'm not at all familiar w/ that Tony's Pizza. There is a chain of Tony's Pizza places in NC owned by a guy from Italy who was raised in Brooklyn. He and his buddy, Mario, moved to NC and opened several pizza joints over the year. But I think their first store was in Goldsboro in 1980. Here's a link to their website: Tony's to pizza joints is like Bubba to bbq shacks.

    As for the sausage, is it just crumbled, browned sausage? In other words, removed from the casing and browned in a skillet? I've seen that as a topping. Or are you describing some processed sausage that is maybe cooking and then cut into uniform little "pellets" as you described?

    I've never tried Napoli's Pizza. I've never heard any raves for it here or around Charlotte from NE transplants (myself being one) but that doesn't mean it isn't good.

    Best of luck to you w/ your search!

    1 Reply
    1. re: lynnlato

      Thanks for the info on Tony's pizza. None of those guys look like the Tony I remember (I know what you mean about Tonys being like Bubbas), but I'll definitely put them on my "need to check out" list the next time I'm close to one of their locations.

      I'm not sure if that pellet sausage is from casings or not. They seem too uniform in size to be from casings.

      I'm due for a pizza run in the next few days -- just did my cheesesteak run today and dim sum and Korean food over the much food, so little time -- and I think I'll just ask them what the deal is on the sausage. I'll post an update.

    2. If it's the guys that own Amalfi's it's the real thing and I'm looking forward to trying it. I used to live up near UNCC and we went to Amalfi's quite a bit and if memory serves, those guys are from White Plains, just north of NYC, and they referred to White Plains as "the country", which always cracked us up. I actually had a pizza hankering on my way home from work on Friday. Took the family over to Carmella's on 51 and Carmel. Such great pizza, really remarkably good. They also have great Greek salads. The only thing that keeps us from going more often is the cigarette smoke. But it is a bar so you get what you pay for. As far as the rabbit pellets, I associate that with frozen pizza.

      4 Replies
      1. re: southernitalian

        I haven't chatted with them, but the family appears to be a husband and wife in the kitchen (open to view, take out only), and daughter(s) taking orders. Just the kind of family-run hole-in-the-wall operation I get hopeful about. They also have subs and pasta and chicken dishes that I've watched the wife cook to order. I haven't been able to get beyond the sausage pizza to try anything else. I hope you post a review if you check them out.

        The sausage pellets I'm talking about are much more substantial than frozen. They're meaty and firm and the size of fat black-eyed peas instead of like little bacon-bit sized bits of grease that I associate with frozen pizza.

        I'm just going to ask them the deal on the sausage when I go this week.

        1. re: CharlotteAsianCH

          I've seen those sausage pellets on other pizzas around here and they're, in my very humble opinion, kinda wierd. But I also don't like sausage slices on pizza either. I like big crumbled chunks of sausage cooked under the cheese, Chicago-thin-crust-style.

          That said, I don't know how they get the pellets like that except maybe extruded through some sort of contraption. My problem with them is that they tend to dry out and be rather...pellet like.

          Ditto Southernitalian about Amalfi's. It's pretty good pizza.

          1. re: HungryGrayCat

            Hormel makes a sausage pizza topping that looks like rabbit pellets. I would bet a used cardboard pizza box that that's what their using (am a chef and more-or-less know what I'm talking about).

            1. re: mrwaterslide

              I think you called it chef.

              I went by for a couple of slices today and asked them about the sausage. They said the pellet stuff I like is is spicy sausage topping they buy, which I see Hormel has. They also have sweet sausage, which they slice.

              So I guess maybe all this means I just like their pizza because it matches what I got as a kid, and most new places don't use Hormel toppings anymore. But I still think their crust is excellent and maybe others would just get the sliced sausage or other toppings.

      2. We are going to be in Charlotte next Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and wanted to find a good barbeque place---think we will try the Q Shak that "lynnlato" mentioned in her response. Now wondering about this pizza!!! Are most of you in agreement that Amalfi is the best pizza there? I have a hard time understanding where things are in Charlotte. We usually book our hotel rooms on Hotwire---which just shows you the area you will be in. If anyone knows a good area in which to stay near great FOODIE places, LOL, please let me know, as well as the pizza. Thanks so much, Karen

        6 Replies
        1. re: TWEETYKaren

          Whoa, whoa, whoa.... hold it there, Karen. I never mentioned Q Shack. Sorry, I had to clarify that - I've got a reputation to uphold. The rest of y'all can stop laughing at my mentioning myself and reputation in the same sentence. Keep it down!

          If you want good bbq, my friend, it's hard to come by in Charlotte but I would suggest Mac's Speed Shop on South Blvd or McCoy's Smokehouse & Saloon on Old Pineville Rd(never been to this one but I trust the word of GodfatherofLunch).

          As for pizza, good spots are Hawthorne's, Marino's in Waxhaw and Palone's in South Charlotte. I've never had Amalfi's or Carmella's but have heard good things. The crowd at Carmella's is a little scary and it's very smoky in that tiny place. It's a bar but folks swear by their pizza.

          There's another current thread about foodie neighborhoods that should be able to help ya. Enjoy your visit!

          1. re: TWEETYKaren

            As many say over and over, there is not much great bbq in Charlotte, but if you go to Bill Spoon's, you'll get as close to the real deal in NC bbq as you can get in CLT. It's only open for lunch I believe. I will also second Mac's as having very good bbq, but it's not real NC bbq.

            As for pizza, in addition to the places lynnlato mentioned, I'd recommned Luisa's and Zio for traditional pizza. Wolfman's for California-style pizza. And for more exotic pizza (such as duck confit pizza), try Cafe Monte. Additionally, while others on the board may scoff at this suggestion, I do like Brixx (thin crust pizza), which is a local chain you can find in several parts of town.

            1. re: TWEETYKaren

              For pizza in Charlotte: my two cents:

              Due Amici. Portofino. Luigi's. Amalfi's. Tony's. Luisa's.

              1. re: TWEETYKaren

                Where are you going to be Karen? It's a big, spread out city with bad traffic (and bad drivers!) so if you tell us what part of town you'll be in, we can make better recommendations. There's good food all over town. For pizza, I still say Carmella's in South Charlotte rocks.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  Hope this does not post problems. Sorry lynnlato about the Q Shack. Looks like it is Mac's that I will be trying. Thanks for your great sense of humor!!

                  Southernitalian---wish I could tell you where I will be staying. I hope to work on that this evening. I do want to try Carmella's though--what is it that you like about their pizza? If you have any suggestions about the best area of town to stay it, that would be great too! Thanks so much! Karen

                  1. re: TWEETYKaren

                    As close to the center (Uptown) as possible, from a food/dining perspective. If not possible, head southeast. That lynnlato is a funny one, isn;t she?