Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tale of the Pie: Pizza Palace

The people at Bryn Mawr's Pizza Palace were really nice. The girl at the counter could not stop fawning over our kid. She asked him how old he was. She couldn't stop saying how cute he looked. If we wouldn‘t have thought it was vaguely psychotic, she probably would have pinched his cheeks a little. Generally, she was just an all-around sweetheart. It's people like this that make it really enjoyable to go out to eat.

It's also people like this who make it hard to tell you about a really mediocre pie.



What are you gonna do? You can't let a really sweet cashier stop you from being real with your audience, and, if I am being real, the pie offered by Pizza Palace just didn't make the grade.
The first point of concern was looking for a parking spot. There really weren’t any spots. It was either find a spot on the street (which proved impossible) or take your chances in the lot of an adjacent business (which worked out for us, but was really nerve-wracking). When we approached the place, it seemed very nondescript and an open of the door reveled that there was literally no one waiting to sample the business’s goodies. Lack of a line is never a good thing. You don’t want to have to wait forever, but you don’t want to be the only warm body at a table either.  In the time we were within the walls, not one other customer came in to sit down or pick up a pie. There was one or two deliveries made, but that’s it. (Note: In a thought that is not related to the pizza at all, let me also say that the place’s bathroom set-up is kooky. You go in one door and see two other doors, one for the men and one for the ladies. They are in close proximity to one another and, in fact, share a sink. All I’m saying is, don’t go there on a first date. If the food gives you a reaction and you end up in the bathroom with that lady at the same time, you might emerge to an empty table.)

For an appetizer, we ordered mozzarella sticks. These were very run-of-the-mill. I feel like I have had the same mozzarella sticks in thirty other pizza shops. The cheese was clumpy. It was the type of stick that when you bite on it is not difficult to separate at all. It just snaps right in half. No ooze. The sauce was not horrible, but it lacked distinction. However, it did come in handy later (I will tell you why).

As for the pizza, it was Greek style. How do I know this? Well, the name on the health certificate and the shots of the Parthenon up on the wall. Personally, I don’t really know what differentiates an Italian pizza from a Greek pizza, but if the pie we got at Pizza Palace was any indicator, I can tell you that I will never purchase the delicacy if ever I should find myself in the land of Plato. The plain pie we ordered featured cheese that was again clumpy and lacking in flavor. The most zing we picked up was from the garlic and red pepper we applied after it was placed on our table. The sauce was a sugary tomato and it was applied in fair measure, but I would be lying if I said it ranked with the best sauces I’ve had. In fact, I would not only be lying; I would probably be deemed certifiable on the spot.

And finally, the crust. One of the reasons we went here was the fact that it was cited in Philadelphia Magazine as an establishment that really knew how to make a great pie crust. Well, my only thinking on this one is that the reviewer must have went straight to Pizza Palace upon getting home from an extended stay on a deserted island. The crust was bland and lacked texture. There were times when you could have convinced me that I was eating not a pie crust but a kitchen sponge fresh out the wrapper. It was bad enough that the crust was not good. There was too much of it. The pie maker stopped applying ingredients too far from the top, leaving a sizeable naked perimeter along the pizza’s edge. That’s where the mozzarella stick sauce came in handy: I used it to lubricate the ample bread piece for its lonely journey down my esophagus.

Right now, my son is super-duper cute. But, if he is anything like me, he will have his awkward years. He will think that he looks horrible. He will think that the ladies want nothing to do with him. If so, I will take him to Pizza Palace. Hopefully, the cashier is still there. Maybe she’ll make as big a deal about him then as she did on the day we went way back in 2012. It would be a very wonderful confidence booster. However, if I do go, I will just have to make sure he doesn’t order the pizza. We’ll just stop somewhere else on the way home.

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Pros: Sauce was decent if not transcendent; friendly service
Cons: Crust airy and bland; clumpy cheese that lacks in flavor

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Pizza Palace
602 W. Lancaster Avenue
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

Pizza Palace on Urbanspoon

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The Pizza Project
Just a nibble: http://twitter.com/ThePizzaProject
Single slice: http://www.facebook.com/ThePizzaProject
The full pie: http://thepizzaproject.blogspot.com/

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