Sunday, March 25, 2012

Gabatoni's Revisited

When my friends and I get together in the afternoon for pizza, it’s a no-brainer; we go to Gabatoni’s.  Now, Gab’s has been around for as long as I can remember.  It’s also my very favorite place for pizza.  Gab’s has that Old Italian world feel inside that might remind one of something out of a movie.  I’ve come to know the staff by name since they see me in there so often.   You can’t ask for a nicer bunch of people who make you feel right at home.
Gabatoni's Special
As we entered Gab’s this afternoon, there was a funeral meal going on in the main dining area so we were directed to the bar area which is just as nice.  I usually get ‘the Special’ or four-item (sausage, green pepper, onion and mushroom) when ordering and get a large if I have to share with at least one person but I’ve had other combos which are equally as good.  So, we ordered our “usual” and another pizza (sausage, with ham and green peppers on half).  It wasn’t long before our pies were sitting in front of us.  I think they cut them into little squares so it doesn’t seem like you’re eating too much but after coming all this way, I want to get my “fix”.
There is nothing closer to heaven than biting into your Gab’s pizza for that first bite.  Just the right temperature….don’t think I’ve ever burned my tongue on this one. 
The pizza crust is oh-so-thin and crispy and the pilings of the ingredients are just right…not too much cheese …just enough to stay put on the crust and not slide off. It’s baked to perfection. They put the right amount of ingredients along with the tomato sauce which is lightly sweet.  It’s what pizza should be.

 They also have a full menu of other foods…sandwiches and meals.  Even though the meatball sandwiches are also one of my fave foods from Gab’s, I need to have the pizza. I can’t stand seeing someone else’s pizza and sniffing the aroma…what can I say?    I have been known to split a meatball sandwich/pizza combo with anyone who will allow it so I can partake of both.
When leaving, I do not have the so-full-I-need-to-loosen-my-belt feeling even though on occasion I’ve eaten half of a large pizza…surprising to some people who can’t believe a person of my size can eat that much!
As we are walking out the door, it’s not unusual for us to be planning our next outing to Gabatoni’s.  I will definitely be back soon!

Linda's Rating:  9.5

Overall SPP Rating:  8.5

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Saputo's Gets a #1 Seed

To be totally honest I've never thought pizza when I considered eating at Saputo's.  Lasagna?  Yes.  Spaghetti?  Yes.  Pizza?  Not so much.  So when my wife suggested Saputo's for a little Friday lenten gnoshing, I was thinking vegetable lasagna.  However, since it's been almost 2 weeks since I had a pie, my eyeballs shot straight to the pizza box on the menu and the only thing left to decide was... sausage or pepperoni?

Where They're Located:
801 E. Monroe
Springfield, IL

Call 'Em:  (217) 544-2523

The Pizza:  Sausage and Mushroom

The Crust:  Thin

The Dish:
Walking into Saputo's always brings back pleasant memories of my childhood and the many evenings I spent gnawing on bruschetta or nibbling on a square of provel topped goodness at some of the best restaurants from the Hill neighborhood in St. Louis.  The atmosphere inside the old building at 8th and Monroe is familiar and welcoming.  For you St. Louis Italian food aficionados it reminds me of the original Bartolino's location on Hampton.  Warm, friendly smiles from the staff, some regulars camped out at the bar involved in lively conversation, servers moving quickly through the dining room delivering heaping plates of pasta, that wonderful tomatoey garlicy aroma and the sound of plates clinking back in the kitchen.  Good stuff.
Saputo's must believe in simplicity because they offer a grand total of 8 toppings for pizza on the menu.  I didn't ask for anything that wasn't offered, but I feel like they would have done their best to accommodate such a request.  When prompted for our order from our server, Shirley, my wife went with the baked cheese ravioli, salad and bread.  Meat free like the good Catholic girl that she is.  Myself on the other hand hit Shirley with an order for toasted cheese ravioli and a sausage and mushroom pizza.  She gave me a playful raised eyebrow and offered to bring some meatless marinara sauce with the toasted ravs so my much more pious better half could share in the appetizer.  After my wife turned down the marinara I winked at Shirley and ordered a Beck's dark and we turned our attention to the colossal upset Lehigh had in the making on the
TV above the bar.

How'd it eat?
We had a short wait for the toasted ravs, salad and bread.  The pizza came on cue as I dipped the last rav into the meat sauce.  The extremely thin crust was really good.  The strong crisp crust held up nicely under the thick weight of of sausage, mushrooms and cheese.  The flavor of the crust seemed slightly neutral but had a hint of saltiness.  Any other flavors from the crust were deliciously overwhelmed by the rich flavors of the Saputo's "garlic juice", a secret mixture of olive oil, garlic, basil, oregano and tomato which is sprinkled on the pie.  The sausage was juicy and flavorful with a mild fennel taste.  It was an excellent compliment to the large slices of mushrooms and gobs of yummy mozzarella.  There was a healthy amount of pizza sauce with basil that ended up being a little bit of a mess as I dripped some on my shirt twice but it sure did taste good.  I noticed what appeared to be ground black pepper on top of the pie and I feel like it added a nice little zip to this pizza.

I noticed a carryout window when I first walked into Saputo's and I plan to start using it periodically to pick up a pizza on the way home.  If you're on the prowl for an excellent pizza, I suggest stopping in and bypassing the usual Saputo's fare and going straight for the pizza.

SPP Rating 8.5