Saturday, April 21, 2012

Dinner @ Little Star Pizza

Tonight we took our visitors to one final place: Little Star Pizza.  They had been on past trips, and asked to go back.  Back when I used to eat pizza more regularly, I often went to Little Star, but it had been probably a year since I'd last been, so I was looking forward to this, as a simple, casual, tasty meal.  And a big change from the other places we'd taken them: Alexander's for a full on fancy meal, Cafe Jacqueline for a very long drawn out meal of savory and sweet souffle, and Commonwealth for the tasting menu.

Any other time I've ever been to Little Star, I"ve had to wait.  Perhaps only for 30 minutes, but generally more like 45 - 60 minutes.  Tonight we approached, and saw no crowds outside.  We gingerly pushed open the door, expecting it to ram into people crowded in the doorway.  There was not a single person waiting. Nor a single person at the bar.  And about half the tables were empty.  Sure, it was a little early (7pm), but I have never seen such a thing before.  We were seated immediately.  I have no idea what was going on.  This also made it quiet.  I've never actually be able to have a conversation with the people I've been seated with at Little Star before.  So strange.

A very large part of the reason I go to Little Star is not for the pizza.  It is for the cheesecake.  They make a really, really incredible cheesecake.  I've been known to just get it to go when I'm in the neighborhood.  And I have friends who have just purchased entire cheesecakes and stocked their freezer with it.  It is seriously good stuff.  Yes, the pizza is good, but good pizza plus amazing cheesecake?  Now THAT is a meal.

You may notice that there is not a picture of the cheesecake below.  Unfortunately, it is not due to the fact that we devoured it before I could take a photo.  It is because ... they were out of it.  At 7:30pm on a totally empty night.  Serious, serious disappointment.  I honestly would not have gone had I known they wouldn't have cheesecake.  (Maybe that is why no one else was there?)

And ... the pizza just wasn't nearly as good as I remembered.  I think I'm putting them on my banned list ... who runs out of cheesecake by 7:30pm?
Mixed Salad – Mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, red bells, red onions, gorgonzola cheese and chopped walnuts, tossed with a housemade vinaigrette dressing. $7.
This is just a simple salad, but always pretty good.  Fresh, crisp mixed greens, tiny chopped peppers, onions, walnuts, a sprinkling of gorgonzola, and some cherry tomato halves.  All lightly tossed in an equally simple, but again tasty, vinaigrette.  Not overdressed, not fancy, but solid.  This was the small size, a good value at $7.
Classic Deep Dish – Sausage, mushrooms, onions, green bells.  $19.
The deep dish pizzas at Little Star are all the same construction: thick cornmeal crust. tons of melted mozzarella cheese, then the toppings, then a very thick layer of zesty, chunky tomato sauce, and then more cheese.  This is not a light pizza.

The cornmeal crust is usually my favorite part of the pizza, as I love the extra crunch, grit, and flavor from the cornmeal.  This wasn't as flavorful as I remembered, and the crust was really buttery/oily.  It was nice and crisp however, almost a little hard to cut through, making it strong enough to actually hold and eat with your hands.

There was just too much cheese for my liking.  Perhaps my tastes have changed, but I found it overwhelming, both in feeling too heavy and in drowning out other flavors.  It was perfectly melted however, and made everything a fun, stringy mess.

The classic is always my favorite pizza.  How can you go wrong with meaty sausage, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers?  Such a "classic" combo!

But ... the toppings came in all the wrong ratios.  What I love about this particular pizza is the sausage and the onions, and there was very, very little sausage or onion on this pizza.  It seemed to be just all mushrooms and tomatoes.  I think my slice contained one, possibly two, tiny tiny chunks of sausage.  Not only was the number of chunks lacking, but the ones that were there were too small to really taste.  Same with the onions and the peppers.  There were plenty of mushrooms though, and a ton of the sauce, which contains huge chunks of tomato.

I don't know what went wrong here, we all agreed that we had only mushrooms, so it wasn't like just my slice happened to miss out.  All I tasted was tons of sauce and cheese.  Perhaps inconsistencies like this are why no one else was here?
Little Star  Deep Dish – Spinach blended with ricotta and feta, mushrooms, onions, garlic.  $19 .
This is usually my second favorite pizza.  Like the classic, it had the same crust that wasn't quite as cornmealy as I remembered, and was again too oily.

The spinach/ricotta/feta/garlic blend was tasty as always, reminding me of the filling often used for stuffed shells.  It had more garlic to it than I remember, but this was flavorful and welcome.  But again, like the classic, there was way too much mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce, dominating the flavors.

This post concludes without cheesecake.  Serious sadness.
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