It is impossible to go into a pizza adventure without them and hard to turn the ship around once they haven't been met. I think we managed to make this a good adventure, one where we are ready, eager even, to go back and give The Pizza Bistro another try. So that you don't get the wrong impression, I'm going to work each bit of it as a compliment stuffed pizza (like a compliment sandwich but more apropos to the situation).
Stuffed Pizza #1
The bar area is gorgeous. Ian mentioned that he might have a new after-work happy hour place since there is good beer, good breadsticks, and a warm cozy friendly vibe. The happy hour specials are a deal with $3 beers and a free slice of pizza with bar purchases.
With that said... Oh my god the menus. Sigh. Kevin (our guest on this adventure) and I both have been watching too much Kitchen Nightmares on Netflix (stick with me here, this place was only like any of those horrible restaurants in this one nitpicky area, everything else looked clean) and the second that we were handed two large jam-packed menus we made the confused puppy face and when Ian arrived he was very much in agreement.
There is just too much stuff. Pizzas (six kinds of crust, six kinds of sauce, and over twelve inches of specialty pizzas) on one large menu with a large double-sided menu to go with it for everything else was overwhelming. To add to the clutter, there are these large wooden propped-up boards (I wish I had gotten a picture) on each table that had nothing on them. When we asked the waiter what they were for (and why they stopped using them) he indicated that they used to keep the pizza menu on there and then hand out the "other" menu, but the owners decided to change it up. I fully acknowledge that I am not a restauranteur and that this may truly be working out better than the old way, but the idea of having the pizza menu already there (or getting rid of the boards) seems like it must be better than having blank wooden boards on the tables taking up my precious eating space.
On the other hand, in big neon letters on the wall is FOOD IS LOVE and I like that sentiment a lot. When we get to the bread portion of this blog you'll see where the love went in to this food.
Stuffed pizza #2
The bread. I am in love with the bread, not just the garlic breadsticks which were piping hot and clearly cooked to order, but the pizza crust as well. The breadsticks were perfectly soft with a light dusting of garlic (I'll be honest that I prefer to be smacked in the face with my garlic, but can still appreciate it when it is subtle). The pizza crust was crusty like the outer edge of a perfect loaf of home-made bread. By the time I was full I just wanted to scrape all of the stuff off of the remaining slice of pizza and eat nothing but the crust.
We were not impressed with either the marinara (that came with the breadsticks) or the pizza sauce (on top of the pizza). The marinara was bland, with visible chunks of onions and other things, but without their flavor. The pizza sauce was overly salty instead of having the robust herby tomato flavor that I expected (there we go with expectations again).
Uhhhh....Can I talk about the crust again? Look at it up there! Look at how amazing the inside bend of the outer edge looks bready and delicious. Look at the next picture down and before I talk about it just stare at that outer edge and let your salivary glands start their engines. Forget about all five of the other crusts (though the new york style pizzas we saw going to other tables looked pretty good), you don't need to try them, they can't top this.
Stuffed Pizza #3
For the pizza we ordered the Italian Sausage and Ricotta, which also includes roasted garlic. The ricotta was excellent and when I bit into the milky pocket of deliciousness I couldn't help but feel the love.
There wasn't much italian sausage to be had (nor roasted garlic). We expected this stuffed pizza to be stuffed with them, instead it was 95% mozzarella (blend, I think, just for clarity) and very little italian sausage or garlic. If we spotted them and picked them out we could taste them, but blindfolded I don't think any of us could have told you what was in this pizza since the topping flavors were completely overwhelmed by the cheese and sauce. This pizza is marked with the little "this is our best" peace sign on the menu, so I'm not sure what to think of the rest of the menu, though...
...there seemed to be a large variety of alternative pizzas on the menu which may not have the issue that we ran into with this one. For example, the carnitas pizza with tomatillo sauce, seemed like my next pizza destination. Our waiter (who was excellent, by the way) recommended the Texas BBQ Brisket pizza and I have to say that it seems like it would be a hell of a good meal.
Overall, we will be back. We will be checking out more of their menu, looking for consistency and hoping that we choose pizza with a better topping distribution and balance. If for nothing else, we will be back for beer, breadsticks, and love.