This blog is not called The Calamari Project. When we typically decide to try a restaurant's pizza, we will usually complete the order with a side to keep things interesting. Usually it is something like wings, mozzarella sticks, or, yes, calamari. If the appetizer should be particularly good, we, of course, mention it. Same with if it should be bad. But the grade that we present at the bottom pertains to the pizza. The pizza in other words is the main attraction and what every restaurant we go to is ultimately judged upon.
Except for this review. In this one, we will adjust our rules and downgrade this restaurant based on the taste of the worst calamari (nay, DISH) I have ever had in my time on the planet we call Earth. But let's get to the pizza.
Tony's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant is a fairly nondescript strip-mall pizza joint next to a Wawa on Egypt Road in Norristown. I saw it one day when I stopped into said Wawa to see if they had a bathroom in which my toddler could urinate. They didn't, but one positive of the attempt was that I determined that we would try Tony's Pizzeria some time in the near future. When we did decide to try it, I was a little concerned when I showed up to pick it up. The place was very empty. It was just the dudes making the pizzas, me, and a couple sitting at a table. I believe that one of the individuals dining there was certifiably insane, but that is neither here nor there. There was a little bit of a problem with the service as it took the two college-aged fellows behind the counter at least five minutes to ask if I, like, wanted my pizza or something. However, if this place could say that the biggest problem they had were a couple of workers being slow on customer service, they would be very lucky. It was not until I returned home with the pie that I realized the bigger issue.
The first glance caused an immediate depression: It was literally slathered with cheese. Way too much of it. If you are a fan of extra cheese on a pie, this might be the place for you because you won't have to pay a fee for abundant mozz. Then again, the cheese was not drawback-free. While Spicy stated that she thought the taste of the cheese was pretty good, she concurred that it was thick and clumpy. It's one of those annoying sorts that sticks together no matter how many times you use the slicer and comes off when you are picking up an adjoining slice.
The pizza was also light on sauce, and what was there was of the watery variety. There were some thick spots, but the flavor was not distinctive no matter the amount applied. Crust texture was also suspect. While it was not overly thick, it still had a soft, doughy feel. It was tough to chew. It made me think that perhaps the pie was not cooked long enough. But then again, who knows because the scattered cheese bubbles on the pie would suggest that it received too much scorching. In essence, this was a below-average pie. Normally, I would give it a two-slice review and move on, comfortable with the knowledge that I gave it a try and will never have to return again.
So when you see that lonely one-slice score down there, you may ask, "Why so harsh?" And I will say, "Duh, idiot, I already told you. The calamari made me feel as if I had vomited in my mouth." Perhaps I should have known better then to try a seafood dish from a place I have never been before, but it would be impossible for anyone to expect a dish this horrid even from a tiny pizza place. It was not the standard fried calamari with a side of marinara. It was a specialty dish (I have forgotten the name and I can not find a menu for the place online), which came grilled and served inside the marinara. There were also red peppers included. As soon as I took the lid off, I knew this would not be good. It smelled how I imagine Camden's Adventure Aquarium would smell if you were allowed to have a backstage tour. It was an obscenely fishy smell. Overpowering. It didn't get better when placed inside the mouth. You know that smell you experience when you are driving down the Shore? The one that lets you know you are getting close because the smell of wetlands and saltiness just envelops your nostrils? Well, that is what this dish tasted like. To coin a phrase, the thing was absolutely "funk-nasty." A few more things you should know about this dish, which we paid $8.25 for in one of the most regrettable purchases of our lives: 1) we were afraid to feed it to our kid for fear that he might need to be rushed to the emergency room; 2) we attempted to feed it to our dog, but he refused to eat it; 3) we decided to take it directly out to the trash rather than let it sit in our house for fear that either the entire homefront would begin to smell like Venice in the summertime or a neighbor would call the police believing that there was a rotting whale corpse being unsuccessfully preserved in our crawlspace. In all seriousness, this dish is an abomination and the people who run this restaurant really should be ashamed of themselves for unleashing it upon the paying public.
Pros: Would be good for cheese lovers
Cons: Sauce light and indistinct, crust doughy and chewy, specialty calamari dish positively vile.
Tony's Pizzeria & Italian Restaurant2809 Egypt Road
Norristown, PA 19403
The Pizza Project
Just a nibble: http://twitter.com/ThePizzaProject
Single slice: http://www.facebook.com/ThePizzaProject
The full pie: http://thepizzaproject.blogspot.com/