Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria (at the Terrace) Food Review

Pepperoni & Barese slices

Naples Ristorante e Pizzeria requires two reviews... one for its Pizzeria at the Terrace, and another (soon, I promise) for the grander 6,000+ square foot cafe inside the Westfield Montgomery Mall. I gave them time (it opened in mid-May) before careful inspection, but regret to inform you... there's room for (lots of) improvement.

To be fair, the "Naples experience" isn't best served to-go. There were some positives (speedy turnaround, terrific cheese) but those were negated by some glaring misses. Let's start with service, which was surprisingly surly. I asked for a slice of Margherita and Pepperoni, but was told "margherita... (long pause) you'll have to wait 10 minutes" before I switched to Barese (tomato, sausage, broccoli-rabe, taleggio.) No big deal, since it costs a mere $.25 to jump from plain to more. For the record, $2.75 per slice is a literal steal in an otherwise pricey food court.

Sodas are even cheaper... you can make it a Slice & Soda Special for a single dollar more; but when I asked for one, the cashier shrugged and looked back at the dispenser (long story short, it wasn't working.) How about verbalizing it, instead of looking disinterested/dumb, and perhaps offering a bottle instead? His arrogance concluded, when I tried to hand him my credit card... He pointed instead to a self-serve terminal, which practically required a user's manual to operate (and I'm not even old & senile yet.) Isn't it ironic, that a machine could have done his entire job miles better to begin with?

Things started to look up, once I moved down the assembly line. Someone resembling a manager handed me my order lightning-fast and with a smile/thank you. Both slices were generously sized, and looked quite appealing. The food court was packed; so I wound up walking towards Macy's, where I found an open table. Note to self: Lots of people visit shopping malls after the holidays, even on a weekday. Big crowds = more frustration.

Naples makes their pies in-house; but one thing's for sure, they need to work on consistency. The Barese slice was hard as a rock, especially compared to the other end of the spectrum... a floppy, apparently underdone slice of Pepperoni. Both slices had positives however. The Barese, though overdone, had a gorgeous char and some of the best cheese (taleggio) in all of Maryland. The salame piccante (and to a lesser degree) the mozzarella were pretty darn good on my other slice. In between... disaster.

Tomato sauce was stingily applied (ditto for the sausage and broccoli) and the amount of surplus, unadorned crust was criminal... especially on the pepperoni slice. The wide difference in texture and cooking time was unforgivable. I made sure to finish all the cheese and meat toppings; but left almost all the crust. Not good.

It's a shame too, since the Pizzeria itself is really nice to look at (open kitchen, prep areas, etc.) Unfortunately, when you "put yourself out there," and fail... you receive a less than favorable review. Perhaps the Ristorante e Pizzeria will showcase the aforementioned "Naples experience," Chef Riccardo Simeone appears to have worked so hard to provide. Time (and my next visit) will tell.