Mama Niki’s Pizza

August 26, 2009 · 6 comments

in atlanta, atlanta pizza, cooking at Home

Sometimes it’s fun to play restaurant hunter. If I’m driving around and hunger strikes, I’ve become prone to just pop in to some place I’ve never heard of, or a restaurant of which I have a totally uneducated opinion. When this happens, I’m usually riding around by myself, so I don’t feel too bad about subjecting my friends to what could be a disastrous meal.

So the other day when I was getting my oil changed and tires rotated (what a good car owner I am!), I stepped out to the front of their parking lot and surveyed my options. Within eyeshot I could see an Arby’s, a Taco Bell, a Subway, and Via Elisa. Success! Via Elisa features one type of panini sandwich each day, so I wandered over to their entrance on the side of their building…only to find out that they are closed Monday’s.

I looked a bit more and noticed Mama Niki’s Pizza, which I had seen before, but never given more than a passing thought. I’m pretty sure this location used to be a Burrito Art almost ten years ago, though I’m not sure. But I pass this shopping center on almost a daily basis, and I love pizza, and I’m unsure why I never even considered giving them a try, not even during the Pizza Days.

I decided to be adventurous, looked them up on my phone, called and ordered a slice of cheese and a slice of pepperoni to go, then made the 5 minute walk across the street from the Jiffy Lube. The place was totally empty, except for one single patron in a booth, who was casually reading emails on his blackberry, unaware that I was eyeing his pie. Looked decent enough.

My pizza wasn’t quite ready, so while I waited I scanned the place and noticed a sign that announced that Tuesday’s they have trivia and offer pitchers for $1, with a limit of two pitchers per table of four people. What kind of beer? Well, I asked, and it’s Keystone. College.

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The pizza wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. Though I was hungry for pizza, and it satisfied. The dough was thin and light, with some airiness so the endcrust, with a light dusting of parmesan that made every bite of crust enjoyable. No “dough-blow” here. The problem is with the cheese, pepperoni, and sauce – they were of poor quality. They were just inexpensive ingredients, which probably has to do with the fact that no one was in there at lunch time. The bread showed promise though – I wonder if this place could do make some above average pie under the right circumstances?

The lunch actually inspired me to hop back on the pizza series, though under a different format. The ratings last time were a joke, as was the blind tasting. Trying to reheat pizza and have it judged blindly isn’t really going to help those of you actually dining on a fresh, hot pizza. But there are tons of places I couldn’t make it to the first time, and I think I’m ready to dig in. There are also a few places I haven’t been to in forever that deserve another visit, and perhaps a few from the first go round that I need to revisit. Fritti and Rosa’s are high on the revisit list.

Pizza places on my list include: Vingenzo’s, Verra-Zanno, Savage, Fritti, Rosa’s, Quattro, Loop Pizza Grill, Grant Central, Baraonda, Pero’s, and Buckhead Pizza Co. Anyone else have any recommendations?

I’m not going to set any time constraints like I did last time, but will hopefully post one to two per week.

Mama Niki's Pizza on Urbanspoon

  • http://foodnearsnellville.wordpress.com foodnearsnellville

    What is your scope going to be? ITP? Some of the suburbs? As far out as people will suggest?

    If Gwinnett County is in your range, I’d be curious your experiences in Fini’s Pizzeria. It’s ranked in the top 10 in Gwinnett by the ‘spoon, and I found the Sicilian to be pretty good and the thin crust to be ‘meh’.

    Maybe I’m just living on memories, but my opinion is that no one in the metro area has beaten Craig Priebe and the old C.K.’s to date.

    FnS.

  • http://foodnearsnellville.wordpress.com foodnearsnellville

    And sorry for the double post, but I read your entire 17 part series on pizza to get a feel for how to do pizza reviews. I especially like the “Madden diagrams” of how to dissect a crust ;).

    FnS.

  • http://www.chowdownatlanta.com Chloe

    Let me know when you’ll be at Verra Zanno — I’ll tag along! And let me take you to Alpine Bakery while we’re in the area. Their pizzas and calzones are tdf!

  • Jimmy

    FnS – I am definitely willing to get OTP if there is promise of good pizza.

    And I’m not sure that the old pizza series is any sort of definition of how to review pizza. I started with the rating/blind tasting idea and quickly realized it wasn’t that useful. I wasn’t trying to find the “best” slice in ATL either, as that depends on my personal taste, and wanted to provide more of a “Here is X restaurant and this is the style of their pizza, and I think they do this style fantastically/OK/poorly”. Along the way I found a few places I didn’t know about (Baby Tommy’s, Shorty’s) that I loved, and once again I hope to find a few great places that are new to me.

  • Nick

    If you are willing to go very OTP, come to Savannah to try Bella’s. It’s a small Italian resturant that we have been going to for as long as I can remember, but just recently (as in a couple years ago) found out they do large pizza’s for take out. Since your pizza series, Garet and I have become some-what of pizza snobs and this is one of the only places we will call to get pizza from now.

  • katie

    I loved the pizza series — glad you’re doing it again! Although I, like Nick, have become more of a pizza snob after reading your pizza posts.

    As for Mama Niki’s, if this is the one on Howell Mill I think it used to be a Mellow Mushroom. I haven’t been since college, but I remember shortly after the name-change that everything still tasted like MM and I suspect they were still sourcing their ingredients through them. That may have changed by now though.

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