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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lorraine's Food Factory

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In the category of places you wouldn't think to go for pizza, today we visit Lorraine's Food Factory. It's been around for years, starting as a sandwich shop on Park Avenue, then a catering business, and finally, in 2002, a full-fledged restaurant in its current location on Culver Road.
I still associate Lorraine's with sandwiches, and for good reason, because they have a wide array of them on the menu. But they do a lot of other stuff too, including personal-size pizzas.
There are five to pick from: plain cheese, veggie, pepperoni, Mediterranean shrimp, and Southwest chicken. I went with the pepperoni.
Lorraine's web site has an online ordering service, which I used, but when I arrived to pick up my pizza, the person at the counter couldn't find it on her register. After a brief trip to the kitchen, she informed me that my order had not been received, but that the chef would have a pizza ready for me in about ten minutes. OK.
My pizza did in fact come out pretty quickly. The pie was given an unusual cut, sliced into long, thin wedges, rather than traditional pie slices. The crust was thin, and had a soft, pale bottom. I wondered if the chef had taken it out a bit sooner than he otherwise would have because he knew I was waiting for it.
Perhaps not, because it was rather well done on top. The cheese was browned and the pepperoni had begun to get crisp along the edges. Another minute or two in the oven and the cheese would have gotten overdone.
There was not a lot of  sauce on this pizza. It was a more cheese- and pepperoni-dominated pie. In many areas, in fact, the cheese was thicker than the crust. I especially noticed this the next day, when I finished off this pizza in the form of cold leftovers; it was like eating a slice of cheese with some dough attached. I'm not judging the pizza based on how it tasted the next day, cold, mind you, but just citing that to show how thick the cheese was relative to the crust.
Speaking of the crust, it did not have a particularly airy, "risen" interior, except in a couple of areas near the edge, where it had bubbled. In those spots, though, the crust had just formed into one big, hollow bubble, rather than a network of smaller air holes.
Mostly, the crust was just doughy, like a tortilla. I'd be tempted to blame that on the short notice again, but I don't think that explains it. Although I don't claim to be more than an amateur pizza baker, it seems to me that once the dough has risen, it's essentially ready to go. Take off a piece, press it out, and, as long as you don't squeeze out all the gas, you should end up with a pie that has a nice, airy interior. Whatever the reason, that was not the case here.
As I mentioned at the beginning, Lorraine's has a wide variety of foods on its menu. Plenty of sandwiches, salads, wraps, quesadillas, and sides.
There's also a dinner menu, which Lorraine's website indicates is available on Fridays only. But the website also shows them closing no later than 3:00 every day, so I don't know if they still serve dinner or not. There's also a full bar, but this doesn't strike me as the kind of place you would go to and hang out at the bar.
Besides the restaurant and the catering business, Lorraine's also offers "take-n-bake" gourmet frozen meals, which are definitely not the TV dinners of my youth. They include, for example, herbed salmon cake with wilted kale and dill risotto, and honey mustard pork tenderloin with sauteed bok choy and walnut brown rice.
All those sound worth a try. But I'm not inclined to go back for the pizza. I didn't care for the underdone, doughy crust, and I also found the pizza out of balance, with too little sauce and too much cheese. The pepperoni had a nice, spicy kick, but again, it needed some tomatoey sweetness to balance it out.
I've commented before about how some places that have otherwise good menus sometimes come up short when they decide to throw pizza into the mix. I'm afraid, based on this visit, that Lorraine's is one of them. For the pizza, I'm giving it a C-.

Lorraine's Food Factory Bar and Restaurant, 777 Culver Road, 442-6574
Mon. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 3 p.m., Sun. brunch 9 a.m. - 2 p.m.

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