Sunday, January 29, 2012

Unconventional Saturday Night Pizza

There is an abundance of quality pizza restaurants in Springfield. Sometimes I like to hit a spot that does not specialize in pizza and give their pie a try. I mean let's face it, you never know when you will stumble onto a pizza that breaks all the rules and surprises you. So... I was feeling especially adventurous last Saturday night and thought I'd kill two birds with one stone by making my first visit to Quaker Steak & Lube and ordering their version of a pizza.
Quaker Steak has a very diverse menu. Given their name you'd think steaks are their specialty, and they may serve excellent steaks but it's quite obvious that wings are their bread and butter. For those viewers of the Travel Channel show Man V Food you may remember the host of that show taking the Atomic Wing Challenge at a Quaker Steak in Pittsburgh, PA. I think hot, spicy food is great, as long as other people are eating it. I'm not biting into anything that I have to sign a waiver to eat. No thanks. Pizza was my target and I ordered up Quaker Steak & Lube's Southwest BBQ Chicken Flatbed.
QS&L's Flatbed sports a nice crispy flatbread crust with plenty of chew, especially closer to the center of the pie. The closer you get to the edges the more crispiness there is so there is a nice balance. The sauce is a sweet and barely tangy bbq sauce that really works well with the cheddar-jack cheese, fresh chopped tomato and red onion. The chicken is added in chunks and it is coated with a chipotle bbq sauce that adds a mouth watering little kick to the dish. Not hot, just a little spice. The flatbed is finished off with some fresh cilantro.
For what it is, the Quaker Steak pie is a tasty treat if you're looking for something a little diiferent than your typical tomato sauce/mozzarella based american pizza. Quaker Steak has 4 different flatbeds you can order besides the Southwest BBQ Chicken. Also on the menu are the buffalo chicken, California veggie ranch, and Philly cheese steak flatbread pizzas.
Every once in a while it's good to step away from the norm and try something a little off-beat or out of the ordinary. I'm definitely going to get back in to Quaker Steak and get a taste of the buffalo chicken pie. If I don't care for it at least there is Shiner Bock on tap to wash it down.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Lake Pointe Grill's Wood Fired Pizza

There are dozens of places to get tasty pizza in central Illinois. Even though thin crust is the predominant specialty of this area there are still plenty of pizzerias that serve an excellent thick crust and even Chicago style deep dish. However, if you want an authentic, Italian Neapolitan style pizza there is only one place in central Illinois you can get it, and that place is the Lake Pointe Grill.
At the heart of Lake Pointe Grill you'll find their Mugnaini wood fired pizza oven. The oven was imported from Italy and the restaurant was literally built around this authentic pizza cooker. Lake Pointe Grill owners Chris Hanken and Vic Lanzotti wanted to produce real authentic Neapolitan pizza and after doing some diligent research were introduced to the folks at Spacco Napoli in Chicago who make some of the best Neapolitan pizzas in Chicago. Through this connection the LPG partners learned the art of making a real authentic Italian pizza.
There are several factors that go into putting together a quality pizza napoletana. LPG starts with triple refined imported Italian flour (Antico Molino Caputo), salt and water to make their traditional Neapolitan pizza dough. The dough is hand formed and hand stretched and topped with only fresh quality ingredients. Neapolitan style Margherita pizza is a light flavorful crust topped with a homemade marinara, some tomato, creamy mozzarella and fresh basil. It's finished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.
The star of the show is LPG's wood fired oven. It is stoked with a wood fire, burning white oak hardwood and can reach a temperature of 900 degrees F. The pizzas will normally cook in just a few minutes and sometimes as quickly as 90-120 seconds depending on how hot the oven is.
LPG pizza chef Kelly Skaggs demonstrated how they rotate the pie while cooking to get optimum "doneness” evenly around the edges and the technique of "flashing" the pizza right before it comes out of the oven to finish the authentic cooking process.
I sampled the margherita pizza on my first visit and then the white garlic pizza which had mozzarella, mushrooms and Italian sausage on roasted garlic cream sauce on my second visit. Both pies were nothing like I'd had anywhere around Springfield and they were both outstanding.
The passion for bringing a quality, traditional Italian pizza to Springfield has led Lake Pointe Grill to the status of one of a least within 100 miles in any direction. The menu at Lake Pointe Grill is diverse and wonderful, however for pizza lovers, and anyone who enjoys tasting authentic old world dishes, order a pizza and watch them fire up the oven and slide it there. It's more than worth the trip.

Click play to get a first hand look at Lake Pointe Grill's imported wood fired pizza oven.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

National Pizza Week, January 9th-15th

It's National Pizza week folks! For those of us who believe every week is pizza week, it's no big deal. For the rest of the world...get some of your favorite pizza this week.
Find out more by clicking here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fulgenzi's Pizza & Pasta - Bada Bing!

Happy New Year! It's time for a new pizza review and this time I'm trying my first ever pie from Fulgenzi's Pizza & Pasta. I've eaten at Fulgenzi's many times. It's my "goto" spot after taking in a cold Friday night football game at Memorial Field for one of their amazing cheeseburgers and a bowl of their smooth spicy chili. Best place in town for a burger and chili.... So how about their pizza?

Where they're located:
1168 Sangamon Ave.
Springfield, IL (Across from the Illinois State Fair)

Call 'Em:
(217) 544-8520

The Pizza: Mushroom & Bacon

The Crust: Thin

The Dish: Although I prefer to eat my pizza in the restaurant for a review, my busy schedule doesn't always allow me the pleasure of taking in the atmosphere and ambiance of the targeted restaurant. That's ok. This one was take out and would serve as the main course at a get together with some close friends post New Year to exchange some Christmas presents. We all got an unexpected little present when we dug into the Fulgenzi's pizza.

How'd it eat: For reference sake we actually had three pies from Fulgenzi's as we got a large cheese for the kids and also a large sausage and pepperoni for the meat lovers. I munched exclusively on the mushroom and bacon pizza however, so that is what I'll be reviewing.
Now... I'll start by mentioning that there were so many good things about this pizza that I'm not sure were I want to start. Color me impressed for sure. Every aspect of this pie was above average. The crust was thin and very crispy with just the right amount of chew. The flavor of the crust was understated with a little saltiness and the texture was perfect. Just a really good thin crust. Excellent.
Spread across this exceptional foundation is a sneaky good tomato-based sauce that is fairly nuetral on the acid/sweet scale of pizza sauces and is extremely well seasoned. There's a lot of flavor in there that meshes well with Fulgenzi's crust. Basil, oregano, garlic... yep it's in there and it's good!
The toppings were well mixed and plentiful. The cheese was was copious over the pie but not overwhelming. It didn't drown the mushrroms and bacon, it just held it all together. The bacon was chopped and crispy which is a solid combo with the juicy mushrooms and creamy cheese. Overall it was just really good... REALLY good.

Let's face's easy to find one good quality about a pizza. Sometimes even a couple good qualities. But it is very rare to find a pizza that has everything right. Between the crust, the sauce, the cheese, the toppings, the seasoning, the construction and the cooking of the pie... there's plenty of room for error. Fulgenzi's had very few, if any. This one of the best pizzas I've had in Springfield. Bar none. I highly recommend Fulgenzi's and can guarantee... I will be back often, and not just for the cheeseburgers and chili.

SPP Rating 9.4