Sunday, January 30, 2011

NYE Flashback: Milo's on The Hill

On New Year's Eve we headed to the St. Louis area to attend a party in the MetroEast. During the day we took a trip across the river The Hill neighborhood to do some shopping for pasta, salami, fresh spices and wine from Viviano & Sons Italian grocery.
We had my wife's brother and his wife from Georgia and cousins from Bloomington/Champaign area in tow. We showed up with no real plan except find a nice restaurant and eat lunch and then do some shopping. We drove around the Hill for a while, looking for a place with a casual atmosphere that we all hadn't tried before. Zia's, Mama Campisi's, Bartolino's, Rigazzi's, Charlie Gitto's were all out. We first considered Amighetti's and noticed a nice looking tavern style restaurant across the street. It was Milo's Bocce Garden. A small place with a nice bar, some dart boards and a tasty menu. Out back there are large covered bocce courts where Milo's runs competitive leagues.

We arrived at Milo's about 30 minutes after an F3 tornado had hit the south county area of St. Louis but the sun was out and there was no damage on The Hill. The only negative was that all the satellites were out and they could not get the Notre Dame bowl game on the bar television. We ordered drinks and took a gander at the menu. It's a pretty simple selection at Milo's... sandwiches, pasta or pizza with a few specials depending on the day. We got a starter of toasted ravioli and griped about missing the Irish on TV. Everyone went with pasta and sammies except me.

I opted for the hot chicken wing pizza. We enjoyed the local flavor in the bar area while we waited for our order to arrive. There was a guy puffing on a big stogie telling others at the bar about the damage the tornado did over in the Sunset Hills area, the bartender was negotiating with DirectTV to get someone out to Milo's to get their TV's running so they could get the Fighting Irish on the television. For the record, I read where Milo's will officially be a smoke free establishment starting 2/7/11.

The food was brought out rather quickly and the pizza looked and smelled excellent. It was a 9 inch pie loaded with small chunks of chicken covered with chopped tomatoes and gooey provel cheese. This pizza was just a real nice surprise. There was a moderate flavor of buffalo sauce mixed in with the marinara and provel as well as a distinct garlic infused olive oil probably brushed on the crust. The chicken was just chicken, nothing special maybe a little bland but the tomatoes were spot on. They offset the spicy kick of the buffalo sauce perfectly.
The whole thing sat on a crispy, well baked crust that would make any St. Louis pizza chef proud. The composition, presentation and flavor of this pizza was just outstanding.
I can guarantee one thing... I will be back for another one.

SPP Ranking: 9.0

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cash & Carry... Dillon's

It's been a while since I've checked in with a review so I figured try a spot I've never had before. So here we go with Dillon's Pizza.
A couple of things I don't like about this joint from the get go is the fact that there is no dining room with carry out or drive thru only. The upside is you can order from the bar next door and eat in there. The Somewhere Else Lounge...nice place. Secondly, Dillon's is a cash only establishment. No checks, no plastic. Very inconvenient. The customers don't seem to mind much as this place does a good business.

Where they're located:
500 N. Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL

Call 'Em:

The Pizza: Half cheese/half bacon & shroom

The Crust: Thin

The Dish: One of the cleaner restaurants around the area with an extremely friendly staff, Dillon's is a no frills joint with a counter and a small waiting area. Very accommodating ordering process and up front prices with the tax built in for an even payment amount which is a plus since it is cash and carry.

How'd it eat: Right from the start let's just say that this pizza was absolutely PACKED with toppings. Since this was a half/half pie with one half just sporting cheese topping (for my 6 year old) this is really like two different pizzas. I must admit I was secretly looking for a little provel or other creamy cheese to go with the oodles of mozzarella on the cheese side. Well... not so fast. I did enjoy the mozzi because it did have a nice flavor, I just felt like something was missing. It may have been the lack of cheese mixture or maybe it was the fact that there was very little seasoning on the cheese side. The bacon and mushroom half was much more impressive. The hot, delicious, crispy bacon was everywhere and there plenty of firm mushrooms in both short and long cuts. The mozzi was just as tasty and well spread out on this half as it was on the other half and there was a slight flavor of sweet basil.
The sauce was a major disappointment though... mainly because I could barely taste any or see any. Come on Dillon's! Don't skimp on the sauce. That is a quarter of any pizza, and you just can't get away with going that light on the sauce. Period.
The crust on the other hand is probably the best aspect of this pizza. Crisp, crunchy with perfect "doneness". Although I like my crust a little thinner I don't really have anything critical to say about the Dillon's foundation. Just as stiff in the center as it is on the edges with no burn. Crusty yummy!

Let's face it, Dillon's makes a nice, traditional pie. Better than average in the Springfield area and a place that definitely has a niche on the northside pizza scene. I'll certainly recommend Dillon's because overall it is a nice pizza. Ask for extra sauce.

SPP Rating 7.4

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top 15 pizzas in Springfield

1. Bernie & Betty's Pizza - 9.2
2. Sam's Italian Pizza - 8.8
3. PJ's Pizza & Pasta 8.6
4. Palermo Sicilian Cucina - 8.3
6. Mario's Italian Restaurant & Pizzaria - 7.9
6. Gallina Pizza - 7.9
7. Luca Pizza - 7.8
9. Gabatoni's - 7.5
9. Joe's Italian Pizza - 7.5
10. Rico's - Sherman - 7.0
11. Leo's Pizza - Petersburg 6.7
12. Top Cat's Grill & Chill - 6.6
13. Sam's Too - Sherman - 6.3
14. Coz's Pizza & Pub - 5.9
15. Vic's Pizza - 4.7