Aldo's Pizza Pies
100 S. Main
Warren had a dentist appointment downtown yesterday afternoon. I told him to bring the monkeys (Satchel, 10 and Jiro, 8) so we could have dinner at Aldo's across the street.
Aldo's Pizza Pies was opened by Aldo Dean, who also owns Bardog and Slider Inn. Aldo's Pizza Pies is actually the only one of the three that is more restaurant than bar. (It's also non-smoking, so kids welcome.)
There was a sign announcing Aldo's on Main Street for what seemed like a couple of years. I was very excited about it finally opening up. Since I work down the street, I have walked by many times and peered in the windows. A few weeks before they opened, my friend Brad, who is the manager, invited me in for a tour and to sample the pizza and cheesecake. I also attended a VIP night prior to the soft opening where I got to taste every pizza on the menu. Pretty awesome.
I've heard that they've been packed for lunch, so I decided taking the monkeys for an early dinner was the way to go. We could smell the pizza in the street. Mmmmm...
Aldo's is huge. It has a great patio, plenty of indoor seating, and a nice sized bar with 30 beers on tap and 30 more in bottles. Most of the tables and the bar were made by hand by Aldo's father. The walls are papered with the New York Times. It's cozy, yet spacious.
If you are in a rush, you can grab a slice of already cooked pizza as soon as you walk in the door.
As soon as we walked in, Satchel said, "This place has inspired me to make the world a better place." (Ten year olds are just weird like that.)
A waitress seated us next to the dough room, which is exactly where I wanted to be. John Pearson, the dough master, and I go way back to Squash Blossom 1992. We stared at him through the window for awhile and when he noticed us he came out to chat.
John has done a lot of reading and studying to create the perfect dough. He will happily tell you all about it.
He says the taste comes from the crust. He's currently perfecting a cold rise method in which the dough ferments overnight. "Enzymes work in the cold that's where flavor is," he says. John also notes that he uses a mixture of New York and Naples flour.
In addition to dough, John also makes the sauce. "I can't make enough sauce," he says. Knowing how packed they've been, I said, "Like Sisyphus?" and he replied, "Worse than Sisyphus."
Ok, back to the table. Our dentist's assistant told us about the garlic knots, so we had to go ahead and order some of those while we figured out what kind of pizza to get. We also put in drink orders. I tried to steer the monkeys to club soda--they are actually developing a taste for it--but they begged for root beer. (Warning--It's Abita Root Beer and rings up at $3.50.)
The garlic knots came right out and looked yum. (The waitress kept calling them garlic balls, and they show on the receipt as balls too, but the menu says knots.)
Warren told Jiro to dip his in the pizza sauce and Jiro looked at him wide eyed and said, "That's pizza sauce?" and then dipped away. To think we'd been foolishly referring to it as tomato sauce all of these years!
By the time we polished off the knots (and sequestered the sauce for later dipping) we had finally decided what to order. The kids wanted their usual half pepperoni and half artichoke heart. (A 12 inch build your own starts at $12. This one topping version was $13.75.)
I let Warren pick our pizza, since I had already gotten to try them all. He went with the Mezza Luna, which is what the dentist assistant suggested. It has poblano cream sauce, fontina cheese, eggplant, roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts. (12 inch is $17.00.)
I also ordered a large Caesar salad for us to split ($7.00).
The salad came right out and looked great. Homemade croutons/crustini, fresh shredded parmigano cheese on top...
They split it for us, so what you see is a half order. Just as we finished the salad, the pizzas came out.
The tables have built in raised pizza holders, which is great. However, if you have four people and plan to get two pizzas, you may want to sit in the half booth/half table section where you can push two two-tops together and have two holders rather than sit at a four top with just one holder.
Anyway...the pizza. It's really good. Really good. The kids declared it "awesome" and "delicious." Warren also gave it the thumbs up. I have a rule about ordering pizza without red sauce (I usually don't do it because then I just don't think it is pizza), but we had the sauce from the knots, so I was good to go. I dipped the crust liberally.
The pepperoni was actually my favorite. The menu features plenty of specialty pizzas, and it is my plan to try them all (again)!
And I plan to try them all in the large size. I don't know why, but I think New York style pizza needs to be eaten in big slices.
Our dinner bill came to $55.88. It startled me a bit, but the root beer explained it. The appetizer and salad also brought us up past our normal $40ish point. I think next time we'll get big slices and (root) beers.