2006 San Jacinto
Quote Time: 45 minutes
Actual Time: An impressive 35 minutes
Interesting Specialty Pizzas: 25
Health Conscious Low-Fat Mozzarella: 15
Crispy Bacon!: 15
Fresh Toppings Selection: 15
Basic Pasta and Appetizer Selection: 10
Split pizza orders, even with Specialty menu: 20
Guy on the phone was nice: 10
Guy on the phone was also creepy (I don't do slimy or like nicknames): -10
Total score: 80
I have a problem: I hoard take-out menus. Not only do I collect way more menus than I'll ever use, but I have a compulsion to order from every menu that slides through my apartment door...and I do it in style. I've been known to order delivery of up to $60 of food for a household of two adults and one fat dog. My boyfriend looks on in disbelief and wonders why we can't just get Pizza Hut. Amateur.
Not being that impressed with our nearby pizza options, I wasn't overly excited when I walked into our apartment one day and found a Carmine's menu on our kitchen floor. The menu options, however, spurred my curiosity. California Pepperoni Pizza with spinach and bacon? Before I knew it, I had done it again. I ordered five different types of pizza. Luckily, Carmine's allows split pizza orders, so technically, I ordered only three pizzas.
Carmine's calls its pizza "New York Style," a term overly misused. Herein lies my main grievance with the pizza. Once something is labeled, whether something is merely good or not is less important. Instead, the scrutiny falls upon whether the execution of said something justifies the labeling. Sadly, when I eat Carmine's pizza, all I can think about is how it fails as New York-style, as opposed to how much I like the pizza's inventiveness and ingredients.
Yes, true to New York-style pizza, the crust is hand-tossed and thin. However, the dough was overly kneaded, yielding a dense and hard crust, as opposed to the traditional chewy and airy crust. Also, Carmine's uses low-fat mozzarella for many of their pizzas. And while my stubborn thunder thighs appreciate this, when I envision NY-style pizza, I think little puddles of grease. As for the toppings (I never thought I would say this) Carmine's is a little too generous. Because the crust is thin, the weight and liquidity of the toppings and sauce tends to make the pizza soggy and difficult to eat without a knife and fork. Again, for the type of pizza that was meant to be eaten on the go, this isn't ideal.
Wanting to try a little bit of everything (the boyfriend stopped me before I could add any pastas to the order), I selected the Carmine's White Pizza, a BBQ Chicken Pizza, the California Pepperoni Pizza, and the Gourmet Low-Fat Vegetarian Pizza.
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The BBQ chicken pizza, with its dry chicken drowned in a flood of barbecue sauce, was a failure. The three other pizzas were surprisingly pleasant.
Excluding the BBQ chicken pizza, Carmine's boasts an impressive variety of fresh toppings. This was exhibited in the three other pizzas I ordered. Although, the white pizza had the same dry chicken, it also had a spicy sausage, zucchini, and Carmine's tasty version of white sauce. The low-fat vegetarian pizza had what looked like a small garden on it, with vegetables ranging from broccoli, green olives, to mushrooms, just to name a few. This might be the perfect diet option for people who hate to diet.
The stunner, by far, is Carmine's California pepperoni pizza. This is coming from a girl who has always preferred sausage over pepperoni. Topped with garlic, spinach, tomato, crispy bacon, pepperoni, (and why even bother) low-fat mozzarella, this pizza is amazing, New York style or not. While I may think the prices are steep, the sheer quality of the toppings on this pie makes it worth the $12.75 for a medium-sized pizza.
If I'm ever feeling fancy and have some money to throw around, I wouldn't hesitate to give Carmine's a call. In the meantime, I think my boyfriend might be on to something. I mean, have you tried that new $5.99 Domino's hand-tossed pizza? Don't judge me.