Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Martusciello's, Lyell Ave.
I’ve written before about how, as much as I love their bread, I’ve been disappointed by the pizza that I’ve gotten from some of the local Italian bakeries. So it was with somewhat lowered expectations that I went to Martusciello’s on Lyell Avenue recently to try one of their pizzas.
Martusciello’s does make pizza to order, but if you go at lunchtime, you’ll find an array of roughly foot-wide pizzas to choose from in a display case, ready to go. Feeling like a kid in a candy store with only a dollar bill in his pocket, I had a tough time settling on one. I was offered help by the employees a couple of times before I finally waved them off and told them that I’d need a few minutes.
Eventually, I settled on a pie with fresh tomatoes, onions, romano cheese, and garlic. When I got it out of the to-go box, I found that the crust was a bit undercooked for my taste, and that some of the water from the tomatoes seemed to have seeped into the dough and turned it a bit gummy. Five minutes in a 350º toaster oven helped considerably in crisping the bottom, though the interior of the crust remained a little doughy.
While I’m on that subject, I noticed when looking over the various pizzas on display that some were considerably more well done than others. One pie, for example, which was topped with just tomato sauce and Romano cheese, had a crust that was blackened along the edge. So that may be something you want to look for in making a decision.
The toppings on my pizza were quite tasty, though fresh tomatoes may not have been the best choice in February. They had a sharp, acidic bite and lacked the natural sweetness of a good, ripe tomato in summertime.
Still, the toppings as a whole blended well, and left a pleasant, lingering aftertaste. In season or not, it’s pretty hard to go wrong with tomatoes, onions, garlic and Romano. The pizza was also dusted with dried herbs, though I didn’t pick up much of an herbal flavor.
Some welcome breadiness came through in the edge of the pizza, bringing to mind Martusciello’s excellent Italian loaves. This had the same basic flavor and interior texture, but wasn’t quite as crusty as their bread (which you can get “hard” or “soft” - I always ask for hard). I wondered if perhaps it had been given a light brushing with olive oil, which will soften the crust in the oven.
Martusciello’s more than exceeded my expectations, and went a long way toward mitigating my skepticism about getting pizza from an Italian bakery. My pizza wasn’t perfect, but it was certainly enjoyable enough to make me want to go back and try another from Martusciello’s wide selection. Next time, though, I’d pay more attention to the doneness of the crust, and I’d also get one with less “wet” toppings, to reduce the likelihood of the dough being gummy. A white pizza, perhaps.
Better yet, I think I’ll just order a pizza to go. Until I picked up a menu on this visit, I hadn’t been aware that Martusciello’s bakes pizzas to order, but they do. Pizzas can be ordered in medium, half sheet, and full sheet sizes, up to one hour before closing time. They also do calzones, subs, and sides - who knew Martusciello’s makes wings? And if you want dessert, you won’t find many other pizzerias offering freshly baked eclairs, baklava, napoleons, and sfogiatelle (I had to google that last one - they’re filled pastries - yum).
If I were rating just the pizza that I had, I’d probably give it a C+. The flavor was good, but the tomatoes weren’t so great, and the crust had issues, as I’ve described. But I can’t forget that mouth-watering display case. I could virtually taste some of those pizzas with my eyes. Just for sheer visual appeal, they deserve an A. So I’m going to split the difference and give Martusciello’s a B for now, subject to adjustment after my next visit.
Martusciello’s Bakery, 2280 Lyell Ave., 247-0510
Mon. - Fri. 7:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sat. 7:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Sun. 7:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.