For the love of crust
Sacramento, CA 95819
The Neighborhood Pizzeria yearns to be East Sac’s new local hangout, so it provides a large outdoor deck, old-school arcade games and daily craft beer and wine specials to complement its pies. Parking can be a nuisance but never fear; it also has delivery and to-go options for those who prefer to imbibe at home. My visits to try its “New American” pizza revealed a pretty good cross-section of locals, including young families, established retirees and beer-sipping hipsters.
New American pizza is a mite confusing to define, but it’s basically about the dough, which takes several styles found from Detroit to L.A. and combines everything down to a large, airy crust featured almost as prominently as the toppings. My table’s reaction to the crust was split. Not by the flavor—we all agreed it was delicious, crunchy and salted perfectly. But I felt there was just too much bare crust to contend with—even a gentle brush of garlic butter would’ve gone a long way—while others enjoyed snacking on it like a built-in side dish, especially when dipped into some tangy balsamic dressing.
Whole pies are a modest but filling 14-inch round and cut into six slices. Neighborhood Pizzeria offers about 10 different variations of pizza, all with cute names such as its Notorius P.I.G. or Yo’ Mama’s So Vegan. We tried the I’ll Have What She’s Having ($20), a take on a pastrami sandwich I was ready to scoff at because it included pickles, but it won me over with its salty-briny mustard flavor, peppery pastrami and punchy “everything bagel” spice. The Truth About ’Roni ($16) highlighted a robust house sauce that tasted like just-cut-from-the-vine tomatoes, and packed mega marinara flavor without overpowering the mozzarella or pepperoni.
Not usually a fan of alternative sauces on pizzas (besides pesto), the garlic cheese sauce on the Papi Chulo ($18) got it right with a soft yet bright pungency that added pizzazz to crispy pancetta and a spattering of pommes frites. The arugula pesto on the Greenpoint ($16) underwhelmed, although fans of sun-dried tomatoes will enjoy the large, juicy chunks found atop this pie.
Neighborhood Pizzeria also offers two Detroit-style, granny square slices: The Abuelita ($4) and the Fresh Prince ($5). Turns out, it made all its pizzas as granny squares in the beginning, and the locals complained. They wanted round pizzas, or else. These two versions are what’s left of those dark times. Curious, I ordered both and found them to be superior to the New American-style (same dough, cooked differently). The spongy, almost focaccia-like crust with toppings spread from rim to rim made the house sauce pop and delight. I’m sorry, but you’re just wrong, locals. I’d love to see more flavors get the granny square treatment.
No pizza review is complete without the all-important breakfast test. Would these pies hold up by morning? Could they be enjoyed not just warmed up in the oven or microwave, but also straight from the box, congealed and cold from the refrigerator? I’m happy to say all the pie flavors maintained their integrity, albeit with a little bit of sag, but tasted great. Surprisingly, the I’ll Have What She’s Having won the breakfast test, pickles and all.