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Nov 5, 2011 10:28 AM

Blue Ribbon Pizzeria

I saw this mentioned in another thread for its butterscotch pudding, but how is their other food? Does it compare favorably to Bruno's? It's a bit of a trek for us, but we're willing to go if it's great.

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  1. We haven't made it yet to Bruno but Blue Ribbon has really good food. We had several of their appetizers including an outstanding octopus salad and burrata. We also like their pizza a lot - overall highly recommended.

    1. I wouldn't say it's worth it to go out of your way. We went on our way to LA and enjoyed it quite a bit, but I wouldn't make a trip up there specifically for that.

      Caffe Calabria is doing some very good Neapolitan-style pies that compare quite favorably to Bruno. URBN also does a good job.

      1. I visited recently... I thought Bruno is better in the end for the pizzas alone, but they do have some nice appetizers and the pudding was good.

        I don't think I'm allowed to link my blog post on the place but you can find my review as something like the 10th result on googling the place. Hope that helps :)

        1. Well, we ended up going there this weekend. I have to say we were disappointed overall in the pizza there, mainly because of the crust.

          They use a thin, crisp crust with a more crunchy rim. Not my personal favorite texture for a wood-fired pizza, as I prefer the more substantial chew you get with traditional Neapolitan pizzas. I do appreciate the crisp-yet-airy style they have at Mozza, but Blue Ribbon's wasn't like that, either. It was more of the thin-and-crackery type.

          I think I could overlook the texture if the crust were more flavorful, but it disappointed in that area as well. It had little of the slightly-sour fragrance and taste of leavened dough that makes well-made bread and pizza so delicious. I ended up simply skipping the edges of the crust, normally one of my favorite parts of a good pizza.

          I did enjoy the tomato sauce, which had just the right levels of spice, sweetness, and acidity. The toppings were also solid - we tried the mushroom and fennel sausage pie as well as the prosciutto (La Quercia), arugula, and ricotta one. I did think the texture of the cheese seemed a bit chewier and less creamy than I'm used to with pizzas made from fresh mozzarella. We both noticed this in one of their appetizers that included their "house-made mozzarella," but I never found out if they used the same one on the pizzas.

          The butterscotch pudding was good. Yes, it's a ubiquitous dessert right now, but I enjoy it and I've tried several around California. It was one of the better ones. It was a bit unusual in that most are accompanied with some kind of cookie or brittle to provide a textural offset to the smooth, creamy pudding. This one was just served by itself.

          The food came out somewhat slow, but the waitress did apologize for it and comped us the pudding for it. I understand that it takes a while to cook all those pizzas when the place is packed, anyway, so it didn't bother me too much.

          One point of the service was a little disappointing, though maybe we expected too much. My wife ordered a glass of wine when we were first seated. She took one sip and grimaced, then one more and put it down. She told the waitress that she didn't like it at all and asked for a different one. They whisked away her old one and brought the new soon after, and all was well. When we got the check, though, they had charged us for the first glass. They were well within their rights to do so, of course. However, the very few number of times we've ever sent back a glass of wine at restaurants in the past, it hasn't appeared on the bill. Maybe we've just been very lucky, though?

          9 Replies
          1. re: Pentagarn

            "They use a thin, crisp crust with a more crunchy rim..." - They must be inconsistent or changing their crust because when we went their crust wasn't cracker like at all but relatively chewy (not on the same level as Mozza, but Mozza is very unique and unlike any other "regular" crust but even they changed their crust over time if you compare the one in the beginning to what they serve now).

            1. re: honkman

              My wife's pizza and mine had the same texture, but I suppose it could have been just an off batch of dough or been overcooked. It's hard to justify a return visit unless we happen to be in the area, and I'd probably rather go to Q'ero or one of the other restaurants we enjoy around there in that case.

              1. re: honkman

                When I went there my crust wasn't cracker like either. It wasn't as chewy I would have liked it (prefer Bruno there) but it wasn't overdone. I loved the flavor of the crust though and found the taste to be better than Bruno. I would take the other menu items over Bruno too. I'd need to try more pizzas from Blue Ribbon to say if I liked the toppings at Bruno or Blue Ribbon more.

              2. re: Pentagarn

                I'd be interested in seeing what you think of Calabria and URBN by comparison to Bruno. I like all three, but for different reasons.

                We hit on a really important detail at Bruno that makes for a better eating experience: when you order your pizza, ask them to serve it intact, and not to cut it. The crust is greatly improved by this.

                I think what happens is that by using the traditional pizza cutter, they're doing a few things that sabotage the crust quality in the center:

                1) They are mashing the crust with downward pressure, pushing the pizza against the slightly concave plate.

                2) By breaking the bottom of the crust, all the liquid from the sauce and toppings can now pool in the concave plate, soaking the crust from the sides.

                This gives you a soggier center than normal, because all that pooled liquid gets wicked into the crust.

                Last time we went, we tested this hypothesis by ordering the pizza uncut, and it made a huge difference. We only cut as we went, and it made for a much better textural experience.

                1. re: Josh

                  Makes good sense as pre-cutting za may allow steam to get under the sliced area and sog it up. Nice Tip!

                  1. re: Josh

                    I've been to URBN. I liked their crust better than Blue Ribbon's, but I'd say it still didn't have the flavor impact I like. It also practically turned to stone as soon as it cooled. We had a large party that spent a few hours there ordering drinks and pizzas throughout the night, and any that were no longer warm had extremely tough crusts. Of course, Neapolitan tends to do that if you put it in the fridge, but you usually have at least a few hours.

                    That's a good idea about not cutting the pizza at Bruno's. Come to think of it, I can't remember any of the places we went to in Naples that pre-cut your pizza. They always came out whole. Thanks, we'll try that next time!

                    1. re: Pentagarn

                      This is even magnified now that Urbn has a new owner and he revised the crust to near perfection. Before it was limpy, now it's really awesome and their 7' special is huge because it's not shaped round but resembles a real size football bigger actually. I was there when they 1st opened back in 08 and now it's like pepe's and sally's in CT. N county is no longer lacking good pizza

                      1. re: Josh

                        That's a great tip and it makes a lot of sense. I'll be sure to keep it in mind - thanks for that!

                    2. The mere fact that Blue Ribbon would limit what I get to have a pie would be reason enough for me to skip it. If Heston Blumenthal can accommodate me, so can a freaking pizzeria (or burger bar).