Multiple Choice: World's Best Pizza Is In A/New Haven B/Crozet, VA
- Joe H Jul 18, 2009 08:38 PM
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/170683 is the link to a former thread from '04 that this references.
Today was the day: five years after starting this thread my wife and I fresh off several visits to local wineries knew there was only one place on earth to have an early dinner in the foothills of the Blueridge: Crozet Pizza. The legendary, requisite destination for any UVA grad or post grad whether in daylight or approaching midnight, Crozet was Mecca for a Blueridge pie. Perhaps even a Tuscan or Napolitan pie.
And, we went.
At 4:45 on Saturday afternoon it was full. This ramshackled, red wood framed formerly condemned building with 32 rickety seats and wall upon wall of national and international magazine articles raving about it (National Geographic: "best pizza in the world") was...full. Character, personality, charm: a one of kind temple of red sauce, crusted mozz faith that oozed apparent caloric deliverance didn't have an empty seat. And a reputation of not even bending to Muhammed Ali when he showed up without a reservation. Nor anyone else. Certainly not us.
There were other eccentricities we noticed while standing obstrusively in the middle of what amounted to a pizza saloon: You couldn't even order a beer unless you had pizza. And, as noted above, it's not that easy to order a pizza at Crozet.
There was also an incredible one of a kind wall with photos from fans sporting red Crozet pizza T shirts in absolutely obscure parts of the world..even, yes, the solar system. Literally, the North Pole, the South Pole, Auckland, Tel Aviv, Bali, Moscow and a space station where the astronaut held up a Crozet Pizza T shirt while she was in orbit around the earth. There's nothing that the White House in Atlantic City or Pat's on Passyunk can sport to compare to this wall; not a ceiling nor a panel that approaches the mouth dropping "My God! They actually had a Crozet T shirt there!!!"
Seriously hard to top some of the places that Crozet has been talked about in. Or on. Or while orbiting around.
We were seated. In a back room. Next to the single utilitarian restroom that the hundred plus year old never renovated apparent one time stagecoach stop had. At the base of the wall of photos from around the universe. An almost floor to ceiling wall. I spent ten minutes reading postcards and photos; at some point my wife said shouldn't we order a pizza? After all, you (I) had talked about this place for years!
This was another decision: with forty plus toppings, which was the absolute best, the most Last Supper like of all the toppings. What should we have on our ONE pizza that we would judge Crozet Pizza on? A white pizza with "good olive oil," fresh garlic and Reggiano? Fennel flecked Italian sausage with fresh green peppers, mushroom and onions? How thick did they slice their pepperoni? At some point my past decades long loyalty to the original Ledo's came into play: I am a University of Maryland graduate who grew up from (forgive me!) my first Ledo's pie in 1959 or so to eating at least one a week or more through the eight years it took me to convince the University to finally graduate me. When I started graduate school they lost patience and I found that then I began to stuff Ledo's pies down much more quickly: I no longer had the luxury of time I'd had as an undergrad.
God forbid that Crozet, a University of VA icon, could be better than the original Ledo's!! Oh my God, this really could't be....it better not be...
I can't type any more for fear of being shot. Dead by a fellow former College Park graduate. Crozet is great pizza. We will return, we will drive the 240 miles round trip from Reston (yes, I am also heretical and moved across the river in '88-a move that NO native born Marylander should ever make, let alone a graduate of THE state institution (( of course I was born in D. C. and merely grew up in Silver Spring...)) ).
As I type this I munch on a slice that was leftover from our all too brief binge in the foothills of the Blueridge. This really is a great pie. Exemplery crust that tastes like there is a bit of cornmeal dusted on although the waitress denied it. The fennel flecked sausage really is superb. Excellent tomatoey sauce, really good mozz. Despite the Blodgett gas range this is a superb fairly thin crusted pie.
Actually a great pie. I ate every crumb of the charred crust. Whether 16 miles west of Charlottesville or 130 miles south of College Park. No, it's not Pizzaria Mozza and not on the level of Wooster Street. Nor Rimini nor da Michele. But if Crozet was in D. C. there would be a line out the door right now.
Addendum: while I haven't had DeLorenzo's on Hudson Street in Trenton in several years memory would suggest that this is the pizza that Crozet most reminds me of. I should note that we drove the 350 miles roundtrip from Reston to Trenton for this pie and felt that it was worth it. Crozet is even closer.
Three Notch'd Grill is also pretty good. They have very good pasta (I think they get the homemade pasta from the place that makes it homemade nearby) including the lasagna.
Do like their pizza (in laws live nearby).
Blue Ridge Brewery also has good lunch.
I hope you went to White Hall, King Family, Flying Fox, Keswick and Barboursville. Those are my favorites down there.
ktmoomau, we love Barboursville whether it's the wine, Palladio or the setting it is really special. I actually had business near Staunton and we ended up at Cross Keys winery on our last stop before Crozet. A beautiful setting and a major investment for the owner of Massanutten who started it. The wine was...interesting.
This link has photographs and a two minute narrative about Crozet. There is an incredible "character" to this pizza saloon.
Unofortunately, as reported in this article there is a serious discussion about bulldozing the building shown above and Crozet relocating. The article notes that Crozet's lease is up the second half of this year and construction could start shortly after. While Fodor's has called this the best pizza in America I wouldn't go that far. Still, it is outstanding pizza but part of its taste is the charm and "romance" of the room that you actually eat it in. For myself this would not taste the same in a different room.
Go now if you have any interest in sampling an extraordinary pie in a truly unique setting. This may not be there much longer.
re: Joe H
This afternoon I shared two pizzas with a friend at one of D. C.'s more noted pizza places. It's not important which one. Rather, with every bite I only missed Crozet more. There is no question that the amibience and character of the building that Crozet is in adds to the overall taste; still, it is an outstanding pie. First chance we'll be driving back seventeen miles west of Charlottesville (I 64 to Crozet exit) for it. And, we'll do it before they tear the building down. It is possible that I may prefer Crozet to anything in the D. C. area. Of course I am also someone who is willing to drive to Trenton/New Haven/Brooklyn/Boston's West End and now Crozet for good pizza...
Or Los Angeles, Phoenix, Racine....