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Where to eat this weekend: Pagliai's Pizza

BY BEN VERHILLE | MAY 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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Pizza, the easiest choice and possibly the most commonly consumed cuisine on college campuses, is often done incorrectly, in my humble opinion.

Boring, droll, and overly processed — sometimes there is just no love put into the creation of pizza.

But during times like these, when cleaning my room has been entirely neglected for the past couple weeks because of … well … let’s say studying, I need to get out of my room and enjoy time with people I enjoy (or at least don’t hate).

By the end of this week, half of Iowa City will go back to Illinois. I need to show the student body some real pizza that isn’t “Chicago Style,” so I headed to Pagliai’s, 302 E. Bloomington St.

Pagliai’s was started by an Italian family that had immigrated to the United States with the dream of a better life. Their family recipes for delicious pizza were brought to a bar in Ames, and soon became popular enough to start their own restaurant.

Full of character, the Iowa City location is frequented by locals and visitors. It’s a little strange that you’ll only find booths here, but it’s even stranger that they don’t offer Parmesan with their pizza. Obviously, the most important part for pizza is the red pepper, but no Parmesan?

Staff members say Parmesan doesn’t mix well with their homemade sauce. Good pizza doesn’t need it, but the best way to make me want something is to tell me I can’t have it.

Don’t take that advice too seriously, ladies …

Back to the pizza. My group ordered two pizzas here — one of my old favorites and one of my new favorites. The latter turned out to be pretty weird, but with a range of ingredients from anchovies to sauerkraut, breaking both national and local barriers, we decided to branch out.

I started with the pepperoni and pineapple pizza. The pepperoni is a fresher taste than Canadian bacon, because of the spicy flavor and the authenticity of flavors to Italy. It’s a perfect taste before the warm and savory juices of the pineapple fill your mouth. The crust only comes one way: thin with a crisp. The sauce is sweet and somehow not overbearing on the pizza, which I have found so many places. The cheese is thick in comparison to the rest of the pizza, but all take a back seat to the thick layer of ingredients you choose to order.

And now comes the weird recommendation: shrimp and mushroom pizza.

Don’t doubt my sanity or sobriety — this was one of the most creative and rewarding pizzas I’ve ever ordered. The shrimp offered both protein and a flavor that, for me, had been untouched in the pizza sphere. Paired with mushrooms, it seemed stupidly easy. The words escape me to describe this, but if I’ve ever had a personal recommendation for a plate, try this.


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