Monday, July 25, 2011

Tale of the Pie: Bravo Pizza

I'm starting to worry about the people who ran Philadelphia Magazine's pizza issue.

After a terrific recommendation in East Norriton's Charlie's Pizzeria, the magazine has now pointed us in the direction of two straight duds. If you haven't read our review of Franzone's in Bridgeport, catch it here. As for Bravo Pizza of Paoli, we tried it out on Friday. It was the essence of average. Maybe even a little less than.

I should have known we were in trouble from the start. I never had that moment when you are like, "Wow, this smells incredible." As I think about it, I never even registered a scent. The only thing I could concentrate on was how their big screen was showing some CNN story about the Tea Party at a loud volume when there was a Phillies game playing at the same time. F*c kis up with that? Was I about to order pizza from a Michele Bachman-voting looney tune? However, not wanting to judge them on their viewing habits, we ordered pizza anyway. We got a large plain pizza and a medium Chicken Parmesan pie for four people and a baby.

After a short wait (I have to give them props for their prompt service), the first pie arrived. It was the plain and several things immediately rang alarm bells. First of all, it was clear that the pie was light on sauce. It did not have that red look. The sauce was not creeping out of the sides or the top. It was tough for me to identify the slice I wanted because none of the pieces met my need for excessive tomato. The second "ding-ding" was the huge crust. I can't stand a pizza with an excessive perimeter. The truth is Philadelphia Magazine lauded these guys for their crust. Well, maybe the dude who wrote that paragraph likes his naked carbs. Me? I don't want to go to a museum and see a bunch of half-painted canvases, nor do I want to see a pie where the maker leaves a large percentage of real estate open like he fell asleep while applying the ingredients. It doesn't work for me.

However, when you are talking about food, it isn't about appearances. It's about the taste. Unfortunately, Bravo's product didn't cut the mozzarella. The tomato sauce was not only sparse, it was watery and hardly tasted like tomato. The crust, which was raved about, was nothing special. All this crunch that the author said was in every bite? I have had more crunch in a bowl of Fruity Pebbles that sat in the milk for the length of a Saturday morning cartoon. The cheese wasn't distinctive either. Everything about the pie was "ehh," so much that I remembered saying to the wife that the only flavor I got out of the thing was the garlic powder that I put on it myself. I don't apply it liberally either!

That was the plain. The fine people of Bravo (and I have to say the owner seemed like a great guy, telling us not to clean up our plates and everything) probably don't want me to talk about the Chicken Parmesan pie. The cheese one may have been average. The Chicken Parm pie was a flat-out abomination. This was clear from the moment it emerged from the back. I don't know what you expect when you eat Chicken Parmesan, but to me, a major lover of the dish, I expect ample sauce and a piece of chicken delivered unlike that which you would find on an Amoroso roll. Bravo did not use chicken chunks. They used the ol' slice-and-dice nonsense you would get from one of those aluminum trucks on the streets of Philadelphia. And, of course, there was no sauce. Like, NONE! The slice was overwhelmed by the cheese, and the crust, which was supposed to be crunchy and able to hold up to any amount of toppings flipped and flopped like a freshly caught salmon on the deck of a fishing boat. As soon as I attempted to pick up a piece, it undressed quick as a virgin prior to his first post-prom liaison. Sorry about all the metaphors! It is simply that I am struggling to find the words for something I should probably just say in eight letters: It sucked.

Believe me, I didn't need any more signs that this pie was not good. But I got it when I looked at Saucy Jr. The little man, he of the love for broccoli with ketchup, carrots with A1, pickles with rooster sauce, a growing toddler who would eat just about anything, was given one slice. As we stood to depart the restaurant, there he is with half of his slice still residing on his plate. He may have an affinity for smelling his own feet, but the kid is still too refined to eat a full piece of Bravo Pizza. Good for him!

Pros: Swift service, nice owners
Cons: Watery sauce, excessive crust, chicken parmesan pie absolutely horrific

Bravo Pizza
Paoli Shopping Center
24 E. Lancaster Ave.
Paoli, PA 19301
Bravo Pizza on Urbanspoon

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