Pizza Crawl - who's your winner?
After the last round of the pizza crawl, no one posted their thoughts so I figured Id start a thread for people to name their favorites.
Overall, I like Pizzavolante the best. It was hard for me to overcome my preference for Spris but the fresh toppings and nice crust/sauce ratio just left a better impression on me. Casale was good as well. Actually, there were only a few places that I know Im definitely not going to and those were Sosta and Piola, mainly because Spris is right there and partially for the sad display of pies we were served at those locations during that night of the crawl. If Im south of 5th with a pizza craving, Im definitely stopping at Fratelli la Buffala. I wouldnt rule out Joeys again and I could see myself stopping in at Andiamo after tying one on at a bar in the neighborhood.
All in all, the crawl was a good time and it was fun enjoying pizza and beers and meeting up with other SoFL 'hounds.
So what was your favorite pie?
It seems like a consensus that PV and Casale were in the championship round. I would like to try those two back to back. The night of the crawl Casale was cooking their pizzas with the perfect amount of char and chew on the crusts, and I particularly enjoyed the Catalana pizza. I went back this week for lunch and the pies were still good although not cooked as well as last time. My favorite pizza overall was probably the Cacciatorini at PV- i could go for two of them right now.
I missed the SB/NMB legs but from the comments the only one of those requiring a visit would be Racks with potentially a stop at Spris if i'm walking by and get the urge. Too bad we didn't get any Steve's lol.
I had a very difficult time deciding on an overall winner but in the end I would have to pick Casale. Pizza Volante still made my overall favorite pie out of the 53 that we tried--the cacciatorini. Although I also liked the Volante 100 and the bianca option that we tried at Pizza Volante, they were not fundamentally as interesting as the plethora of options available at Casale.
With the Atomica, Catalana and Funghetto, Casale offers a much broader selection of pies that I would definitely order again. I also enjoyed the Pugliese, Super Margherita, Sagaponack and Sag Harbor as much as the second tier pizzas at Pizza Volante and would eat those again as well. Although I was disappointed by the lack of bottarga flavor on the Smeraldina, I would give that pie another shot in the future in the hopes that they would get the flavor balance fixed. I picked Casale as my favorite place because it offers an amazing variety and has more potential to improve. Pizza Volante may add a few more options on their menu but the physical space will constrain their ability to scale to the degree that Casale can.
My third place selection was Racks. There were three pies there that I enjoyed as much as some of the best pies elsewhere but two factors influenced my ranking of their pies lower than either Casale or Pizza Volante. I was still not a fan of the excessive cornicione on their crust although I acknowledge that complies with strict Neapolitan traditions. They also did not have as varied a selection as I would have liked with only about 5 offerings with sauce and an equal number of pizze bianche.
Overall, I have to agree with BM and Frod that there are a number of other places that I could return to for a perfectly satisfying meal. And one of the great advantages of the crawl is that I am far more aware now of what to order or not to order at each destination.
I've taken friends to try Racks and PV, and they both vote for Racks. The two guys just feel that PV is too stingy on the toppings. We've also ordered salad and pasta at Racks and they were excellent too, so it's rreally a place I can see myself returning to. My personal favorite is PV, though the limited menu and seating will mean less frequent visit for sure.
I'm still poring over all my notes to pick a favorite ->
I can say this. There are a number of places I'd happily go back to: Casale, Pizzavolante, Racks, Fratelli la Bufala, Joey's, Anthony's, Spris. I'd even go back to Sosta, even though I thought they showed poorly on the night we were there, the menu had promise.
I thought Casale was the best and had it all together. I would return to Joey's, Fratelli la Buffala, and Andiamo is not out of the question (I loved their Popeye Pizza). Racks had some decent pie. Big disappointments were Solsta and Pizza Volante. For the life of me I don't understand peoples attraction to Pizza Volante.