Pizza Shop has look, taste of New York
It was a GLOB Road trip Tuesday and GLOB Historian, Jon Roosenraad, and the GLOB Master were on their way to investigate what all the talk was about Villagio's Pizzeria, which serves prize-winning New York style pizza just off of the main road into Newberry on SW 250th St.
According to The Complete Guide to New York City Pizza:
"The NY style pizzas tend to have far more cheese than Neapolitan-American coal oven pies. The cheese typically covers the entire pie, with sauce only poking out along the circumference. A low-moisture mozzarella is used rather than fresh mozzarella, which is not well suited to the lower temperature and longer cooking times of the gas ovens. Gas-fired pizza lacks the sooty exterior that is a hallmark of coal fired ovens, but it still has plenty of crunch and snap to go along with the pliancy and springiness of the dough."
Driving into Newberry, Jon and I agreed that we both think Gainesville's Big Lou's New York Style Pizzeria makes an excellent New York pizza with giant slices and a crunchy crust that would be very hard to beat as N. Florida's best NY-style pie.
We were pleased to find that, on walking into Villaggio's, the feel of New York City was all around us with many different sliced pizzas sitting in glass cases waiting to be served. Large photos of Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe decked the walls of the dining room, which had several tables ready for lunch time customers. At the end of a lunch counter sat a giant baking sheet of some of the most delicious looking pieces of garlic bread the GLOB Master has ever seen (at top above).
As we selected a table, pizza shop owner, Paul Villaggio, walked over and greeted us with a friendly, "How are ya doin'?"
We told Paul our mission was to see what his lunch stop has to offer in NY style and taste, and I was interested in his pizza specials. The Villaggio owner -- and chef -- was quick to explain there are three Villaggio's lunch special:
2 NY Style Cheese Pizza Slices and a fountain soda - $4.95
2 NY Style Cheese Pizza Slices, side salad, and a fountain soda for $5.95
Additional Pizza toppings are 75 cents each.
Choice of any Stromboli or 1-Topping Calzone and a fountain soda for $6.50
Villagios's is a full service Italian restaurant that includes hot sub sandwiches, manicotti, meat lasagna, meat ravioli, stuffed shells, and both chicken and eggplant parmigiana at very reasonable prices. You can complete your gastronomic tour of New York City by ordering NY Cheesecake, NY Strawberry Cheesecake, Vanilla or Chocolate Cannoli, or Tiramisu. There is a complete Villaggio's Pizzeria menu at the Villaggios Pizzeria website.
JR ordered a Spinach Calzone for lunch and a Sausage Stromboli to go. Which brought up the oft-asked question: What is the difference between the two pizza-dough hot-from-the-oven sandwiches? After much discussion we decided the calzone is not much more than a small pizza folded in half and baked to a gooey, golden brown crunch, whereas a stromboli contains more ingredients and is rolled into a sub like sandwich and also baked to a gooey, golden brown crunch. You can follow this link for a continuation of this discussion with no hard or fast answers.
I was at Villaggio's to sample New York pizza, so I ordered a slice topped with pepperoni and green peppers and a salad.
I think I am learning to appreciate salad more now that the local pizzerias are putting a lot of effort into creating more than just a tomato, ho-hum lettuce side order. I was enjoying my salad when Paul brought us a plate of the Villaggio's garlic rolls, which REALLY highlighted the crisp, tart flavors of the salad and were handy in scooping up the remaining dressing on the plate.
I would have been OK with ordering a second and, perhaps, a third order of the Garlic Rolls, that's how good they were.
My pizza was excellent. I must admit however, sitting in this authentic New York little Italy bistro had a lot to do with making this lunch special.
"Check out this pizza that just came out of the oven," Paul exclaimed proudly showing off a very nice looking, large NY style protein belly bomb.
The good Dr. Roosenraad sampled both the ham, sausge, and cheese Stromboli and the meatball Calzone and came to the conclusion that the many more ingredients of the stromboli made a heartier, more satisfying lunch entrée. "I liked the stromboli better because of less dough. the pizza dough in the calzone was almost like having deep dish pizza. Both Italian sandwiches are good, but the calzone needed more meat," said professor roosenraad.
Paul mentioned that he has been making pizzas in Newberry for over 5 years but didn't want to divulge his reason for leaving the Big Apple. "We were ready to try something different when we found ourselves in Newberry," Paul said with a smile.
Villaggio's in Newberry was a great GLOB Road Trip. It's easy to see the many reasons why this pizza shop is a popular destination for both lunch and dinner. JR was also impressed with lunch and pleasingly surprised about the price.
"We both ate for under $20 dollars Mike," Rosey said, always enjoying a good, cheap, lunch.
"Hey!" Paul exclaimed as he saw us heading for the door. "You guys aren't having any dessert?!?!"