I came across this video on Slice today and just had to post it. Right now you’re either cursing my name or thanking me for the weirdness that is this video. It just goes to show, there are plenty of pizza fans (nuts?) out there! If I haven’t lost you yet, let’s move on to today’s post.
Fellini’s Pizza is the 10th post in the Atlanta Pizza Days and was voted the most popular in Atlanta when the pizza poll was launched on this site almost a month ago. Mellow Mushroom was a close second, and these two places combined for a staggering 53% of the votes. While Mellow Mushroom isn’t on my personal favorite list, I do happen to go to Fellini’s quite a bit.
Mostly due to convenient location, Fellini’s has been my go-to pizza destination since college, so I have a lot of experience eating their stuff. As my most frequented pizza joint in the ATL, I was eager to see how they would do now that I’ve been eating my way across town and have developed a fairly strong pizza opinion. Also new to my Fellini’s experience, I was ordering a whole pizza. It’s kind of funny to think that I’ve literally eaten at Fellini’s over a hundred times and have never ordered a whole pie.
Katie and I met up for lunch last week, ordered a large cheese pizza, then patiently waited about 15 minutes for our fresh pie. I don’t have notes from Katie, but I do have comments from three blind tasters as there were plenty of leftovers.
At this point I’ve pretty much decided that the blind tasting notes are of little value when judging pizza. The dough, cheese, and sauce are all adversely affected by the cooling and reheated process. The dough structure changes upon reheating, becoming chewy, gummy, or too crunchy/crispy. The sauce often turns to “paste” and is flavorless. The cheese can become rubbery and it never regains the awesome gooeyness that it first had out of the oven. That being said, the blind tasting is fun, and hell, leftover pizza is a staple in the fridge of many the discerning palate. There have been a few places where the reheated pizza have been pretty bad so maybe we’ll call that knowledge the main benefit of these blind tastings. Just don’t go too hard on these restaurants when reading the blind notes, OK? Please? Aight fine, do what you want.
Dough (average score -3/5)
- “Nicely rounded, looked like a great NY style slice. Cooked the right amount of time, the endcrust was to my liking, with nice bubbles, some chewiness, and just a slight amount of gummy center”
- Blind Taste - “Crunchy & good, a little flavorless”
- Blind Taste – “Decent, but nothing special”
- Blind Taste – “Chewy end, mushy in the circle part, reheat doesn’t help”
Sauce (average score – 2.75/5)
- “good amount of sauce, heavy on the endcrust side, lots of oregano, tasty”
- Blind Taste - “Can’t taste, overpowered by the cheese”
- Blind Taste – “Best part, sauce has oregano + other spices”
- Blind Taste - “Thin layer of sauce – pasty sauce – might be a result of reheat, a little bland”
Cheese (average score – 3/5)
- “tons of cheese, browned nicely, a little rubbery but good”
- Blind Taste - “Good. Lots. Little Bland”
- Blind Taste - “Lots of cheese, yummy”
- Blind Taste - “Good color, good amount, reheats hurts the crispyness”
Overall (average score – 3.3/5)
- “very happy with this, I really liked the dough, and the sauce and cheese were tasty. My only complaint was there was almost too much cheese”
- Blind Taste - “Cheesy enough and sauce pretty good”
- Blind Taste – “A little soggy interior crust, could be good right out of oven”
Final Thoughts: There’s no two ways around it, I really enjoyed this pizza. It actually dominated my experience at Rosa’s. I feel like a sellout, I’m really not sure how to gain your trust after this blow, but I promise I’m giving it a fair shake. It’s tough to tell due to the lighting in my pictures, but as soon as the pizza came out I could tell I was going to like it. The color on the crust was perfect. There were fantastic looking bubbles and above average structure I could see on the inside of the endcrust. The cheese was browned to perfection. The right amount of sauce was used and I could taste the spices. It was too hot, but I couldn’t wait as long as I should and I discovered it was the perfect size and thickness for folding, ala a great slice of New York style. The interior dough had a slight gummy texture on top, but it was extremely thin, and I actually enjoyed it a bit.
For a second my vanity almost allowed me to think maybe the kitchen knew about the pizza series because it was literally the best slice I’ve ever had at Fellini’s. Back down to Earth, the best I can come up with is that ordering a whole pizza is of major significance. Aha! The same reasoning I used when prefacing the blind notes applies!
No matter where you look, pizza is constructed of the same mix of ingredients. Often times the ingredients at different locales are better than one another, but they are frequently of lesser importance. Maybe you like a different style of crust, or a restaurant uses superior cheese than another, but when examining equal styles the difference in quality is more frequently in the care and the cooking.
A whole pizza, just tossed and fresh out of the oven (the first time), is going to dominate the reheat/single slice every time. If the cook takes a little more care, a little more time, that too can make the all important difference in quality. The cook needs to ensure that the dough is stretched to the appropriate thickness, the proper amount of sauce is distributed appropriately across the pie, the right amount of cheese is used, and most importantly, the pie must be cooked the exact right amount of time. What’s the right time? That’s going to change for every restaurant, every dough type, and every pie, and it’s going to take the watchful eye of the kitchen staff.
I happened to enjoy a pie that was cared for, constructed and cooked properly, and I think a whole pie is stacking the odds in your favor when trying to achieve pizza nirvana. Give a whole pie at Fellini’s a shot, I’m eager for you to let me know how it goes.