Once again I found myself with a little extra time available between a workout and a basketball game last Friday night. So, on the advice of someone at work I rolled into the Laketown area of Springfield to sample some pie at Top Cat's Chill & Grill.
Where they're located:
1822 Adlai Stevenson Dr
Springfield, IL 62703-4233
Pepperoni and Jalapeno
The Crust: Thin
The Dish: This was my first ever visit to Top Cat's. The first thing I noticed was that this place is a lot bigger on the inside than you would think after just seeing it from the outside. They need all the room too because they can pack them in. It's really a pub style restaurant with a good atmosphere that is very family friendly... I saw numerous kids in the building enjoying the food as much as the adults.
I settled in at a small table in the bar area and enjoyed some Doss Equis and watched the Australian Open on huge flatscreen projection TV that can also be seen from the main dining area while I waited for my pizza to arrive.
The service was fast and friendly but my waiter did let my first beer sit empty for a tad too long. I think he realized it and other than that one minor annoyance he did a really good job. My pizza arrived in good time and fresh from the oven. I sipped my beer a little and watched the steam rise off the hot pizza while the guy at the table over the short wall between us tried to convince hist wife that yellow mustard goes better with a bratwurst than brown mustard. I'm with the wife... brown mustard. Come on.
How'd it eat? I want to preface this section by saying I really wanted to love this pizza. I had heard some excellent things about the pie they put out at Top Cat's and I think I went in with a few preconceptions. I was expecting the cheese to be softer mix of processed mozzarella with some real mozzarella. Don't get me wrong... the cheese was good. Just different than what I expected. I also expected the crust to be different than what I got. I thought it would be slightly thicker but still be on the thin side...you know still thin but with a little doughy consistency. What I got was good old fashioned St. Louis style thin crust. It was a tasty crust too. I'm not sure if they spread a little olive oil or something on the crust prior to baking it but this one was good. Better than expected.
My toppings were pepperoni and jalapeno peppers because I was in the mood for a spicy kick. Boy did I get it. The peppers were just spicy enough without being overbearing and delivered in copious amounts evenly around the pie. The pepperoni had equally impressive flavor but it was drowned out by the cheese. I had to dig a few slices out of the abundance of cheese to get a sample. A little less cheese and a little more meat would be an improvement, in my opinion.
Now let's get to the sauce. On your basic pizza it is located right between the crust and toppings. This pizza was extremely short on sauce. I know many people prefer a little less sauce.. it cuts down on the heartburn later. I dislike the heartburn too, but I need some flavorful sauce to kind of be the gateway between a good crispy crust and the toppings. It kind of fuses the two together. It's an important component in a complete pizza. It's a delicate balance in my opinion. It is easy to have too much or not enough. This pie did not have enough.
Overall I enjoyed this pizza from Top Cat's. There were a couple of aspects I would prefer them to do differently (more sauce, less cheese), but in the end they still have make a tasty pie with plenty of upside, including a fantastic crust. Add in the friendly neighborhood atmosphere and you've got the recipe for a great Friday night with family or friends.
SPP Ranking: 6.6