Last week we were driving along, and heard a radio advertisement for Italian Jim's Pizzeria, which claimed something along the lines of that they served some of the best pizza in the state. Upon hearing the ad, we decided we'd have to visit them this week and see if their claim holds up.
The Super Pepperoni Pizza
Part of running this blog, or being any sort of food critic, is having to live with a certain amount of hubris. Definitively knowing what is good and what isn't is part of the job. But tonight we let our hubris get the better of us in a slightly different way. The Super Pepperoni pizza at Italian Jim's claims to have more than three hundred pepperoni slices on a single extra large pizza. Again, that is three hundred standard size pepperoni slices. On one pizza. We read that fact on the menu and without any thought or hesitation ordered it. Let it be said that three hundred pepperoni slices on a single pizza is the very definition of "too much of a good thing." When tasted individually, it was apparent that these were high quality pepperoni, with a reasonable flavor:grease ratio. It was also interesting to see how many myriad textures pepperoni could achieve based on how covered up or exposed it was. But there were also some fundamental flaws the this pizza exhibited. Three hundred pepperoni slices on a single pizza is not a good idea. The individual pepperoni slices themselves weren't very greasy, but when you get that many together you create a small oil slick. Italian Jim's thought of this and made the pizza on a pan with raised, rounded spikes in it to help drain the grease. This helped initially, but with all of those pepperoni slices on the pizza, it was like putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. The crust, while not very supportive (we'll get to that later), was at first not affected by the grease, but just as it cooled, it became a greasy, soggy, orange mess. The biggest disappointment of the pizza was how poorly everything worked together. Any traces of sauce, cheese, or crust were avalanched by the greasy, salty, tube meat known as pepperoni. By the second slice, we were dying of thirst.
The Cheese Pizza
All three pizzas came on a thin crust that was crispy, chewy, and bland, simply serving the purpose of being a sauce and toppings delivery service. Tensile strength wise it was fairly weak. The sauce was savory and hardy, tasting like a thicker tomato soup. The cheese had character, it was a flavorful mozzarella, but was greasy. Even after the experience that was the Super Pepperoni pizza we were surprised at how greasy the simple cheese pizza could be.
The Hot & Spicy Pizza
Probably the most balanced pizza of the night, the Hot & Spicy added pepperoni, Italian sausage, onions, sausage, bell peppers, and jalapenos to the foundation of the cheese pizza. The sausage and Italian sausage offered distinct flavors instead of tasting the same. The red onions and bell peppers were fresh cut, and helped bring a lightness to what otherwise could have been a very heavy pizza. There was a bit of a problem with toppings and cheese sliding off, but as the pizza cooled this became less of a problem and the flavors melded together perfectly.
Italian Jim's Pizzeria also acts as a store front for the Bella Forte Glass studio, and it is easily recognizable that their eye for art goes beyond blown glass. The first thing we noticed when we got our pizzas was that presentation was important. The Super Pepperoni had columns of pepperoni tiling the pizza, each meticulously arranged. The Hot & Spicy had similar columns for the pepperoni, with several colors of bell peppers and red onions placed in rings around the center. This did lead to some topping distribution problems, but it made for one darn pretty pizza to look at.
The Super Pepperoni pizza overshadowed the rest of our experience at Italian Jim's, and could possibly put us off pepperoni for a while. But even still, the Hot & Spicy pizza showed us that they do know how to make a balanced pizza. We're more than willing to try them another try, though we'll probably go with something other than the pepperoni.