Saturday, March 19, 2016

NKD Pizza Media Open House Recap

Small Pizza with Sausage and Red Onions

Addition by subtraction? NKD Pizza dropped a couple of vowels (formerly Naked Pizza) but their recent rebranding looks and tastes miles better than before. We stopped by their surprisingly spacious Ballston location, and immediately fell in "heavy like" with a thinner crust, house-made sauces and two different (yet equally delicious) varieties of chicken wings. Perhaps it's time for all of us to ditch our vowels?

We liked Naked Pizza a lot (click here to read our 2013 review) but there was no denying a need for something extra. After all, there's plenty of competition in the fast casual pizza world; and no amount of fresh toppings is enough to make you stand out from the crowd. NKD Pizza seems to have addressed those concerns (and then some.)

Four Corners and Margherita (r)

In terms of appearance, NKD Pizza remains pearly white (with a touch of green) and spotless. The service is still stellar too, which ranks a close second to a tasty sausage topping (more on that, later.) Prices are reasonable, although a bit higher than some of our other favorites. Then again, none of them offer killer Chicken Wings on their menu (more on that, later too.)

BBQ Chicken Wings

The pizzas come in three sizes (small, medium and large... 10, 12 and 14" respectively.) The original 10-grain crust returns, but now there's a Skinny 10-grain version for folks like me, who prefer a thinner crust. There's also a gluten-free option (12" only) that uses rice flour. If you want white flour, you'd better look elsewhere: NKD Pizza doesn't carry it. The cheese is noticeably better than before... the result of a 50/50 blend of whole & skim mozzarellas. All sauces are house-made, and taste the part. Kudos for adding fresh herbs on each pie, as well. Attention to detail means everything.

Buffalo Chicken Wings

My main complaint last time (almost three years ago) was a lack of flavor in both the cheese and sausage. That's no longer a problem, especially for the latter. The sausage is plenty zesty, and meat-lovers shouldn't worry about NKD's healthier, veggie-centric menu. There's lots of meaty options available... bacon, Canadian bacon, chicken, hamburger, sausage and pepperoni. If you need/want more than that, you might want to grab a bow & arrow and search for yourself. The Four Corners (house made tomato sauce, mozzarella, sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, hamburger, parsley) is a literal work of art.

Cheesy Breadsticks

Cheesy Breadsticks are gooey & delicious, but too closely resemble a plain pizza for my liking. The accompanying marinara sauce however, packs plenty of flavorful punch, and made me wonder what pasta would be like (should NKD have plans to expand their menu in the future.) I wouldn't normally recommend menu expansion, but NKD hit a home run with their all-natural, roasted wings. Yes, you read right... roasted, not fried; and go figure, they're delicious. You get eight wings/drumettes (with your choice of dipping sauce) for $8. I tried both the Buffalo (chipotle, pleasant kick at the end) and downright succulent BBQ, and would gladly put them up against anyone else's less healthy, fried varieties. Plenty of meat too. What a great surprise.

Udi's Snicker Doodle cookies

NKD offers all-natural Chicken Tenders too (six for $8) but I didn't get a chance to try 'em (next time, I promise.) They also carry bottles of Boylan Cane Sugar Sodas (fountain drinks will be available soon) and one of my favorite packaged cookies... Snicker Doodles by Udi's for two bucks a pop. Roomy confines, friendly service and a much-improved pizza are more than enough to win me back... and NKD's roasted Wings provide that all-important separation from the (fast-casual pizza) pack. May as well get naked NKD, and try for yourself!

Atmosphere: B (Sweeping views, very clean)
Crust: B (Healthy, but still tasty)
Toppings: B (Marked improvements)
Intangibles: A- (Great wings!)
Service: B+
Value: C+ (Pizzas are a tad pricey)
Overall: B (B+/A- for veggie lovers. Did I mention great wings?)