Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Head-to-head, Part II: Phil's Pizza, Chili Ave.
Phil's Pizza is on the north side of Chili Ave., right across from the plaza where Good Guys is located. I got a lunchtime slice here, just after my Good Guys slice.
Eating one after the other like that accentuated the differences between the two pizzas. For one thing, Phil's was thicker. Not thick, exactly, but definitely not thin either. This was a medium-thick slice.
Phil's was also cooked on a screen. It had a little exterior crispness, but overall it had a pretty soft texture. Since I like a crisp exterior, this lent further support for my belief that pizza screens are not conducive to a good crust.
The edge, in contrast to the underside, was actually kind of hard and dry, although that might partly have been due to the pizza having sat out for a while, whick I'll get into later.
Biting into it, the first thing I noticed was the sauce, which is unusual, since the sauce at most places tends to take a back seat to the crust and cheese. The sauce here was applied a little thickly, and had a fairly thick consistency, but it also had a very distinctive flavor - heavy on the herbs, and a little on the sweet side.
The pepperoni was thin sliced, but had a nice crunch around the edges. It was a little greasy, as pepperoni will be.
Slices seemed limited to plain or pepperoni, but if you're ordering a pie, Phil's has a pretty ample list of toppings. They also have several specialty pizzas, including a diet-busting bacon cheeseburger pizza.
Besides pizzas, there are wings, subs and wraps, salads, quesadillas, grilled and fried stuff, and some pasta and seafood entrees. It's pickup and delivery only, and they open daily at 11 a.m.
So who wins this battle of cross-street rivals? Well on this visit, I have to give the edge to Good Guys. Part of that, I suppose, is due to my predisposition to thin-crust pizza.
Part of it, too, was also the relative freshness of my Good Guys' slice, which was so fresh out of the oven that I had to be careful not to burn my mouth. In contrast, when I got to Phil's, all the slices were sitting on unheated racks, and they looked as if they'd been there for some time. My slice was lukewarm at best, and the cheese had pretty well hardened. (The counter guy didn't offer to reheat it, by the way, not that reheating is any substitute for fresh, mind you.)
I hate to say it, but while eating my Phil's slice, "frozen pizza" popped into my head. I'm not saying that this was frozen pizza, just that it reminded me of a frozen pizza. It lacked the - how to put it? - vibrancy of a fresh-out-of-the-oven, baked-from-scratch pizza.
So in a way, this was not a fair comparison. If my Phil's slice had been as fresh as Good Guys', this might've been a tougher call. I still think I would've preferred Good Guys, but maybe not by as much.
But if a pizzeria is going to serve slices, it only seems it fair to judge it by what you happen to get when you walk in the door and order a slice. Especially if, like Phil's, it advertises on the menu that its slices are "fresh, hot and ready to go!" And especially at lunchtime, when slices ought to be fresh.
I don't mean to come down too hard on Phil's. It was OK and all. But as I said at the beginning of this two-part post, when two pizzerias are within a stone's throw of each other, it's hard not to make comparative judgments, especially if you try them back-to-back. Based on this one-time experience, Good Guys gets the nod over Phil's, which I'll give a C.