I walked into Pizzana with cheerful anticipation. Italian is my favorite faire, and for some reason instinctually I was feeling that this meal was going to be amazing. The restaurant itself was small and narrow and unassuming. Upon entering I was slapped in the ears with the din of loud music bouncing off concrete floors mixed with the buzzing roar of patrons, but later as I walked back to my seat the area became acoustically kind, and I could once again hear myself think.
The hostess was kind and accommodating despite my being almost an hour early. Luckily there was room at the Chef’s bar with a full view of the kitchen which appeared clean, organized, and minimal. At first I was mortified because it seemed the pizza peel was directly on the floor! After careful scrutinization I discovered that it was not, thank goodness! I decided to do the bathroom check prior to ordering (in attempt to view the kitchen from a different angle and confirm the pizza peel wasn’t on the floor). The multi-gendered bathrooms were fairly clean, though every spec of dirt and splash of water was visible on the dark tiled floors. The bus station was in a strange spot, nestled in the corner en route to the rest room.
Once back at my seat I watched the pizzaiolos in the kitchen with some uncertainty. The oven itself was impressive with its grand stature and Star Wars looking facet, but every pizza leaving its threshold appeared burnt!
The menu, which acted as a placemat, was small but ample and the price per plate was easy to swallow (horrible pun intended). The wine list prices were ridiculously high, however, with 3 oz of wine costing $12-$20, exponentially more than the entire bottle’s market price. I understand the concept of mark-up and making a profit, but the drink prices vs amount served seemed inappropriate and almost insulting. There is a certain clientele here, however, that would likely not bat an eye at the high cost of a cocktail.
My waiter, Matt, was attractive, welcoming, timely and knowledgeable. The water and wine were delivered within the 3 minute rule, and the utensils were immediately available and clean. Matt did deliver the salad before the antipasti, which, unfortunately, was an unfavorable choice. In his defense it was probably a kitchen decision, not his. I had decided to try the chopped salad because its a classic that can easily act as a hypothetical benchmark. The pepperoni and sausage in the salad were reminiscent of divine European meats that are incomparably better than the American made counterparts (with some exceptions from the smaller local butchers). I did miss the turkey that is found in some Italian chops, but the Clarion Chile vinaigrette more than made up for it, with its zesty delicious kick. Overall the salad was well balanced but I did feel the individual pieces of meat could have been chopped a bit more slender.
As aforementioned, the antipasti was served next. I was steered towards the Carciofi Arrostiti because of my love for artichoke hearts. When the plate was delivered the hearts were unrecognizable. Instead it appeared I was staring at a plate full of hay. Perhaps this dish, with its light lemon spritz, would have been tasty if served prior to the spicy chop but after the spice I am afraid it tasted exactly as it looked- like hay. It was dry and flavorless. I tried adding more lemon and salt. It didn’t help. This dish, sadly, was an epic fail. I did find a few full sized artichoke hearts at the bottom that were not terrible, in comparison, to the hay stack above.
Moving on, the wine was fantastic. As per suggestion, I decided to pair my food with the 2015 Quercia Al Pggio Chianti and once again the Sangiovese did not disappoint. It didn’t save the hay stack, but it was a beautifully aromatic wine with a flavorful palette and warming tannins that spread across the palette nicely.
For the pizza, once again, I chose the pepperoni. Not to be boring, because they did offer some gourmet pizzas that seemed very promising and interesting, but I wanted something simple for comparison purposes. To add a little variety, though, I had them add the cremini mushrooms as per the menu’s recommendation. The pizza was ok. It wasn’t awful. It was better than the pizza we used to get at work that we donned “prison pizza”. I feel like the pizza could have been good. I wanted it to be good. Sadly, it just wasn’t good. I silently shook my head as the pizza came towards me because, as expected, the outside was burnt. The pie was extremely thin which is normally great, except here the middle was raw and when I lifted a slice, it went limp like a 60 year old man without viagra. My erstwhile concern was confirmed, every pizza being served was burnt.
The woman to my left had suggested I try the chocolate cake for dessert. I wasn’t hungry anymore but I tasted one bite (it was decent) and took home the left over cake along with left over pizza. The next morning the cold breakfast pizza was flavorful and had a better texture than the night prior when it was hot and limp. The charred crust, however, was still inedible and tasted exactly how one would imagine burnt soggy wood. The chocolate cake was FANTASTIC the next day. Light, moist, and decadently chocolate. I think I will rename this restaurant PizzaNO PastryYA.
Overall the staff was friendly and accommodating, the other patrons were typical for the area, the space itself was clean (though not acoustically the best for good conversation). Regarding the food, though the meats were truly fantastic, one can find much better pizza at another restaurant not too far away, a delicious pizza that can easily be paired with a less expensive BOTTLE of chianti from anywhere. C-