So, here are a couple of places I’ve only been to once, linked only by the fact that they serve pizza.

Max London’s

http://www.maxlondons.com/

I made a special trip here because they were running a prix fixe dinner special on one of the nights where restaurants typically need to get more diners in (Tuesday, I think).  When I got there, I was informed that the special had ended the week before, they just hadn’t updated their website.  Oh well.  -1 point for not keeping their website up to date, and -1 more for not attempting to do anything other than say “sorry, not available.” Still I was there, and I had wanted to go there anyway (having been impressed by the Mrs. London’s boulangerie spinoff next door) so I got the first two courses that I had planned on having anyway. 

The appetizer I got was listed as “chickpea polenta fries,” which I sort of halfway guessed would be a falafel variant.  I was wrong.  I like falafel, but this was even better.  Basically, they had spread polenta out into a sheet pan and let cool, just like you would any kind of fried/grilled polenta, then sliced into thick French-fry like objects, battered them with chickpea flour and deep fried.  They were served with what was listed as a black olive aioli, but could also be considered a creamy tapenade.  Very creative, very good, an excellent nibble with wine or beer. +5 points

The pizza – something was wrong with this.  It was the crust.  The pizza looked like it should be perfect:  char marks, the mozzarella in large chunks melted onto it, etc.  And the crust, again, looked like it had been done right with lots of air pockets from yeast rising.  But it just didn’t bite right.  The gluten wasn’t developed, and it just hadn’t developed a truly good pizza crust flavor.

The décor inside was quite sleek and sophisticated, making this an excellent place to have drinks and a conversation, with maybe a snack, rather than a place for dinner.  If you do go this route, stick with the alcohol.  They charge by the glass (at $3.50 each) for iced tea. 

Nové

http://www.novesaratoga.com/

I found this place while trying to find another restaurant that happened to be only open for dinner.  I’m glad I did.  I was pretty hungry by the time I got in, and I really love pizza margherita, but it’s not terribly filling so I started off with the polpettini.  These little meatballs were described as “meatball sliders,” and sure enough, the pair of not too –ini polpette were served on split spherical rolls.  However, since they were covered in tomato sauce and sprinkled with Parmesean cheese, I couldn’t very well eat them as sliders, but a knife and fork allowed me to enjoy them.  And enjoy them I did.  The pizza margherita that followed was the best I’ve had yet in this reigon, and I’ll need to come back for more pizza.  The menu list both Neapolitan and Sicilian varieties, so I’ll have to give those a try.  The sauce and crust here seem to me more suited to meat toppings than simple basil or plain cheese, so that’ll be what I try next.  For those of you from Austin, it was better than Cipollina or East Side pies, but not as good as my top three.

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