Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Baked and Carved, East Ave. Skillet Pizza
(4/11/13) - Baked & Carved is now closed.
For many years, O'Bagelo's was a staple of downtown dining, serving up excellent sandwiches from a storefront on State Street. Some months ago, it closed, but you'll find a reincarnation, of sorts, at Baked and Carved on East Avenue. It's located adjacent to, and shares an entrance with, Salingers, a popular East End bar.
B&C offers many of the same, or very similar, items as O'Bagelos, including from-scratch soups and terrific sandwiches. These come piled with high-quality meats (and meatless selections, if you're so inclined), some of which are roasted in-house, on equally good house-baked bread. But the menu has expanded to include some new items, including burgers, and, notably, pizza.
B&C's pizza is listed under the name "Bar Pies (Skillet Pizza’s [sic])." I wasn't sure what to make of that, but I was guessing that this referred to a very thin, crisp pie, maybe a little oily, but light enough to leave plenty of room for beer; see here and here for some discussion of the topic of bar pizza.
But I was wrong. This was a relatively thin pie, to be sure, but nothing about it particularly marked this, to me, as a "bar pizza," or distinguished it from any other small pizza. Maybe the "bar pizza" name refers mostly to its size - it's small enough to conveniently eat while sitting at a bar.
In any event, this pizza measured about nine inches across, which probably relates to its designation as a "skillet pie." That refers, I presume, to its having been baked in a nine-inch skillet.
Here again, we get into issues with labels. You can find various references to skillet pizza on the web, like this one and this one; heck, even Martha Stewart has a version, which is also denominated "Beer Drinkers' Pizza," tying it back into the concept of bar pizza.
Labels aside, this pizza had a pale bottom, which was dry, with just the faintest hint of oil. The slightly thicker cornicione was marked by a bready interior, and the crust as a whole gave off a breadlike aroma that was no surprise, coming from this bread-centered establishment.
The other notable aspect of this pie was the sauce. This pie was heavy on the sauce, which had a bright tomatoey flavor, lightly seasoned, apart from some saltiness. The melted, just-browned mozzarella was added in good proportion to the crust. It struck a pleasant balance between creamy and chewy, and though its mild flavor was accented by some tangy notes (a bit of Parmesan, perhaps?), it took a back seat to the sauce. The pie was finished off with nicely crisp, cup and char pepperoni slices.
Like its predecessor O'Bagelos, Baked and Carved stakes its reputation, justifiably, on its sandwiches. No surprise there, as the meats and breads are both of high quality. And proprietor John Vito's wit and wisdom are worth a visit in themselves.
As for the pizza, it makes for a good, if occasional, alternative to B&C's other fare. The crust had good flavor, although I would've liked a more crisp bottom, and the various components worked well together. Nothing particularly distinctive about this pie, aside from the generously laid-on sauce, but it would make for a satisfying lunch, or a light meal at the adjacent bar. I'll give it a C, along with an "unofficial" B for Baked & Carved's menu as a whole.
Baked & Carved, 107 East Ave. 14604
Mon. - Thu. 11 - 10, Fri. 11 - 11, Sat. 3 - 11