Friday, May 27, 2011

Pizza Republica

The Neapolitan pizza craze is exploding like a supernova, and sometimes I wonder if it isn't just going to begin collapsing under its own weight, imploding into a black hole and sucking in with it all kind of delicious Italian food and maybe a few random bystanders, and the next thing you know all that will be left behind are a dozen vacant restaurant facades and a consumer base wondering why they ate so much Neapolitan pizza over the last year or two.

But then I must look to myself, and realize that I am happily continuing to supporting their Neapolitan niche by eating at three such establishments in the last few months: Pizzeria Locale, Marco's Coal Fired Pizza, and now, Pizza Republica.

I knew a few things about Pizza Republica before showing up: they serve Neapolitan pizza, they're owned by the Jet Entertainment Group (uhh what?), and their website is not very user-friendly.

Once again, my husband and I were fortunate to have some taste testers with us, and we had no problem getting a table for four at the early 5 pm hour.

I was a little terrified that, given Republica's management, the interior might look like some sort of wild trendy nightclub downtown. Fortunately, it didn't. The dining area was pretty average looking for a classy pizza spot in the conservative suburbs, with high ceilings, ample lighting and a moderate noise volume.

After an excessively thorough introduction to the ins and outs of the menu from our waiter and a round of drinks for everyone, it was time to get started on the food.

We started out with the Republica Meatball ($6), which is described on their menu only as "Simply the best, ever".

Meatball Appetizer
We cut the tennis-ball sized meat sphere into fours and dug in. It was not the best ever, it was merely very good. The meatball itself was decent, but I really loved the sharp, oregano-heavy flavor of the red sauce.

We ordered three pizzas (each $16-$18) for the four of us to share. First was the Giacomo, which came with mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, arugula, and fried garlic.

Giacomo Pizza
The garlic flavor was intense. See those nutty looking things on the arugula? That's crispy, delicious, fried garlic. There's even more buried among the sauce and cheese. The four of us each liked this pizza in exact proportion to how much we liked garlic. It will keep the vampires away (if you're worried about such a thing).

Next was the Rustica, which came with mozzarella, Genoa salami, Parma Prosciutto, and red pepper flakes.

Rustica Pizza

The menu advertises - or warns - that the pizza is spicy, and it is, but not nearly as spicy as I was hoping. I enjoyed the meaty toppings, but I missed the expected intense red pepper flavor.

The Vesuvius was the third pizza of the night. This one wins a few novelty points: half the pizza is meaty, half the pizza is vegetarian, and the vegetarian side is folded over to form a calzone. The meat toppings are pepperoni, capicola, and Genoa salami. The veggie side contains ricotta, goat cheese, artichoke, olives, and spinach.

Vesuvius Pizza

Now, why would anyone make a pizza like this? Who decides they want a half meaty / half vegetarian, half pizza / half calzone concoction? We did, apparently, but it is a little silly. Plus, if I were a proper vegetarian, I wouldn't want meat drippings getting all over my veggie calzone side. But it does look cool.

We finished off with the waiter's dessert recommendation, the tiramisu.

I loved it. The mascarpone filling was light and creamy and sweet. I actually don't care for a strong liquor or coffee taste in tiramisu, so I was happy that both flavors were pleasantly subtle.

Overall - and this may just be personal preference - all three pizzas were too "heavy" tasting for my Neapolitan preference. They were too cheesy and too greasy, and the crust was too thick. They were otherwise well executed, but with the current glut of Neapolitan pizza restaurants I feel like I'm entitled to be picky. There's better Neapolitan pizza out there, even in the 'burbs.

Casual Dining

(6 of 10)

Pros: Decent pizza, good service, great wine and beer selection.
Cons: There's better Neapolitan pizza out there.


Pizza Republica on Urbanspoon


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