Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza
Posted by Tampa Bay Food Monster on September 22, 2010
i really love pizza, and have not yet done the dish justice on this blog. i need to fix that. and in an effort to do just that, i happily visited anthony’s coal fired pizza, on the corner of dale mabry and fletcher. anthony’s is apparently a chain of upscale pizza places, most of which are in florida. right off the bat, there are two problems here: chain, and upscale. these are not things i look for in a pizza place. even so, i took my chances and checked it out.
the price range is between fifteen and twenty dollars per meal, which isn’t too bad i suppose. they offer some different specialty pizzas, a few sandwiches, some side dishes, and wings. of course, their big draw is that they use a coal fired oven to cook their pizza, which is pretty awesome. so, if nothing else, you know going into this that you’re going to have an interesting tasting pizza.
the restaurant itself is a good size, and kept dark to maintain a “sexy” atmosphere (well, i mean it could be considered sexy… maybe). there is a bar, behind which you can see part of the kitchen area, including the ovens. but there ARE televisions everywhere. just like any other idiot restaurant you go to!
we ordered a few side items as appetizers, and a pizza to split between the two of us.
this peculiar looking item is the “eggplant marino”, a dish made of thin sliced and lightly battered eggplant, fried, with tomato sauce and cheese. and it was awesome. it only had a light eggplant taste behind the sauce and the batter, but what really made it interesting was the texture – it reminded me or crepes, of all things. it was a good choice.
of course i had to try their wings, which came disguised as a squid with bread horns. this is actually the first place i’ve been to in the course of the blog that made a big deal about presentation (which is a result of my preferring to go places that normal people eat…). hidden underneath the grilled onions (which served little purpose) and a leafy green parsley dude were actual wings. chicken wings.
the wings were roasted in the coal oven, which was nice and gave it a good char. but don’t let the image mislead you – there was no traditional wing sauce, nor were these wings hot in any way. they were seasoned with various herbs, giving them a taste more reminiscent of baked chicken than buffalo wings. but it’s not like they ever claimed i was going to get a normal wing. they had a pretty good taste, but i didn’t know what to do with the onions, and the flavor was nothing special.
but soon came the pizza! we ordered the “paul & young ron pizza”, which is topped with sausage, meatballs, peppers (you can choose hot or sweet; we chose both), and ricotta cheese. yeah. ricotta cheese. it had regular cheese too, and sauce, like a normal pizza, but ricotta was added on as part of this pizza’s personality. actually, on reviewing their menu, it seems a lot of their specialty pizzas feature ricotta as part of their ‘personality’, a trait which i could do without. i just don’t care for the taste, or texture, of ricotta cheese. it’s not my thing. but i wasn’t choosing the pizza, so i went along with it.
all the toppings were excellent; the peppers were nice, large chunks, and the meatballs were great. i wish there had been more sausage, though. and less ricotta. the sauce and cheese were pretty much overshadowed by the toppings, but the most important part of the pizza was the crust. the crust was very thin, and cooked to blackened on the bottom in the hot coal oven. it was somewhat crispy, which was nice, and the dough was very tasty. this is the reason you’d go back to anthony’s.
all in all, anthony’s is nice, but it’s not my kind of place. pizza and wings are food of the people, and i feel like anthony’s chews them up and spits them out as food for people with “class” or “money” (both of which i lack), and in the process turns them into something that looses the magic of food you can find in grubby holes in the wall. but i still have to admit that coal fired pizza is a good experience, and worth a try.