Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Ramunto's Brick & Brew Pizzeria, Hanover, NH

Ramuntos Highlights.
Ramuntos is a pizza chain in my hometown in New Hampshire.  It opened sometime when I was in high school and quickly became our top pizza place.  It was the first "New York Style" pizza I had ever had, and the Sicilian style was also a first.  I have a lot of memories involving Ramunto's pizza.

Ramunto's opened several more shops around the area, but then I think there was some drama, as several stores shut, and the others remain open, but with different websites, and new logos and branding.  The location my family always ordered from was in Enfield, closest to our house, and it closed.  The next closest was in Lebanon, and that location closed, but a new one opened, now branded as "Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza" (with www.lebramuntos.com as their site).  Then in Hanover there is "Ramunto's Brick & Brew Pizzeria" (www.ramuntospizza.com).  Which of course made me wonder, who has www.ramuntos.com?  The answer is someone with the same logo as the Lebanon location (but a different favicon!).  They have 5 other locations in NH and VT, plus some locations inside Jiffy Marts, and advertise franchising opportunities.  So ... yeah, something happened there, not sure what.

Anyway, all locations feature many of the same menu items, although Lebanon has fried items, Hanover does not.  All have the "Famous" garlic knots.

On this visit, I ordered from the Hanover version.  The pizza was solid, likely the best in the area.  And the knots lived up to their fame.  At the core though, it is just a pizza place in a random town in New Hampshire, and is not notable beyond that.

Appetizers

Ramunto's offers classic pizza joint appetizers, like buffalo wings, nachos, chicken fingers, and potato skins, plus their signature item: "famous" knots.
Garlic & Romano Knot (front).  $0.90.
At the Lebanon store, these are described as "Soft dough knots brushed with a mix of oil, Parmesan cheese, and crushed garlic."  In Claremont, they say "Smothered in Romano cheese and our famous garlic-olive oil".  In Bennington, "Fresh pizza dough tied up daily and baked until golden, then
smothered in parmesan cheese with our famous garlic olive oil".  In Hanover, where I got them, simply "Garlic & Romano Knot".  Maybe the recipes have changed from location to location, some preferring parmesan over romano?

Anyway, they are chunks of pizza dough, formed into knots, topped with tons of oil, garlic, cheese, and herbs.  They were delicious, but in a rather awful way.

The dough wasn't anything special and the knots were actually a bit dried out (particularly inside) and the tops were a little burnt.  I think they were overcooked slightly.

And they were soaked, literally, soaked, in oil.  I honestly think you could have wrung them out.  Literally, 1/2 inch at least in from each edge was fully saturated, soggy almost.

I know this sounds horrible, and, at some level, it was.  But it was also delicious, at least, the outer layers were.  Oil, tons of garlic, and cheese, with some dough as a vehicle to soak it up?  Not a bad thing.  But as I said, the inside was dried out and since the oil didn't reach there, that part wasn't great.

If these were less baked they would have been amazing.  And, I know they really shouldn't be this oily ...

I still enjoyed my knot.  Sold in Hanover for $.90 each, $4.25 for 1/2 dozen, or $6.50 for a dozen.  No other store sells individually.  In Lebanon, they are cheaper ($3.99 for half dozen/$5.99 for dozen), in Claremont, they are more ($4.79/$6.69), and in Bennington, cheaper for half dozen ($3.99) but more for a full dozen ($6.95).  Yes, I find the pricing, and description, differences novel.

Pizza

The main attraction is of course pizza, available in wood fired brick oven style, New York hand tossed, or Sicilian.  If you aren't into pizza, other options are calzones, hot paninis and heroes, cold sandwiches and subs, wraps, salads, and pasta dishes.

But the pizza is really what they are known for (besides the knots of course).

Ramunto's offers a bunch of specialty pizzas, including one with garlic knots as the crust, which sounds pretty epic, but we stuck with classics.  (And yes, all locations of Ramunto's offer the garlic knot crust pizza, another sign that they once were related ...)
Cheese Slice.
I opted for a slice of classic cheese.

It was fine.  The crust was better than the crust at other places around town, but I wouldn't say it was extraordinary in any way.  There is just a low bar around the area.  The sauce was sweet and tangy, and applied in just the right amount.  Cheese, also applied in the right amount, nicely melted.  Sprinkle of herbs for some oomph.

Overall, not particularly notable, except that it wasn't awful, which, sadly is the standard for pizza in the area.  So, if my family wanted pizza for pizza night, this would be my top pick.  But ... I'd probably mostly opt for the knots.

Dessert

Ramunto's lists their sweet knots as appetizers, but, given the amount of sugar on these things, I classify them as desserts, always a necessary component of a meal for me.
Cinnamon & Sugar Knot. $0.90.
The sweet knots seem to have diverged between the establishments.  We never ordered them when I was growing up, so I'm not sure which ones are the originals.  Lebanon says "Soft dough knots brushed with melted butter and rolled w/ cinnamon & sugar.  Comes with icing."  Icing!  Mine, from Hanover, did not have icing.

They were basically the same as the savory version, just with butter replacing the oil, and cinnamon and sugar replacing the garlic, herbs, and cheese.  And I really mean this.  The insides were still too dry.  The tops seemed over cooked.  And the butter?  Just as soaked in as the oil.  Again, seriously, half an inch deep of just butter soaked bread.  There was an insane amount of cinnamon and sugar caked on.

Just like the savory ones, these were highly flawed, yet I couldn't help myself from consuming far more than one.  I wished they were more moist.  I wished they had less butter.  I wish the sugar was applied when the rolls were hot, or even baked on, so it caramelized instead of just being tons of sugar on the outside.  Many things would make this better.

But ... I still really enjoyed them.  Even later once cold.  Even the next day.

The Hanover store sells these for the same price as the savory version, but Lebanon charges more, $4.49 for 6, $6.99 for a dozen.
Ramunto's Brick N Brew Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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