Last Friday my team at work got to take the afternoon off for a fun outing. After a few beers and a severe beating in "fearsbie", as we called it, I returned home and took an uncharacteristic nap. When I woke up at 8:00, a couple hours later, I was completely discombobulated - wasn't sure if it was 8:00 am or pm. The only thing I really did know at the time was that I was hungry.
A light pizza sounded good, so we headed over to Brookside to try Blue Grotto for the first time. Walking in, I immediately felt the name's representation in the decor and atmosphere - dark colored walls with a high ceiling created a cavernous feel, though cozy at the same time.
After checking in at the hostess' stand in the middle of the restaurant (weird, but smart - gets you into the interior where you feel almost obligated to have a drink in your hand while you wait to be seated), we sat down at the long bar in comfortable chairs for a beer, but were immediately retrieved and shown to our seats before ordering.
I have a soft spot for multi-level dining rooms because I like a certain level of intimacy at restaurants. Houston's, upstairs at Lidia's and the second-floor at Blue Grotto, where we had a nice table for two, are some of my favorites. PF Chang's, where it feels like every person in the restaurant is staring at you all night, exemplifies my least favorite type of floor plan.
Forgot to take a picture of our salad, but that's probably a good thing for Blue Grotto. We went with the Greek, and the presentation bears a second-thought. Rather than chopped romaine, whole leaves are laid side-to-side and dressed with plenty of crumbled feta, a pile of red onion slices, a couple olives and cucumbers and a dressing that had more dill in it than any other I've had. It was good, but not befitting of the $9 price tag. The assembly of the romaine leaves gives the plate a very sparse, de-constructed look that says "lack of effort" more than "artful". I can't imagine the typical BG Brookside diner is pleased when this salad is set before them.
Our pizza, the "Funghi" selection, came topped with delicious, large chunks of roasted cremini mushrooms, "champagne marinated onions" (maybe), beautiful fresh mozzarella, tangy, savory fontina and a delicious san marzano sauce. Briefly I'll mention that the crust was nicely done and I enjoyed the pizza very much, but in an admittedly anticlimactic way, I'm going to cut the description and rating short here...
I'm going to find a way to conduct a city-wide pizza comparison in the near future. This might be done as a dinner party where everyone is in charge of bringing a pizza from one of KC's different artisinal pizzerias, or with a one-week tour of my own. Please feel free to leave comments suggesting how I should go about conducting this tasting/rating or different restaurants to be included, but here are the parameters I have already decided: only restaurants focused on pizza will be included. Lots of places have pizzas on the menu. Heck, even Kona Grill does. But I want to focus on the places that hang their hat on their pizzas, so those joints are out.
Completely Americanized or the "non-artisinal" places, I'll call them, won't be included either. So, the major chains like Papa John's and Dominos: no. And even the local places with similarly styled pies won't either: Minsky's. Look, I love all kinds of pizza, down to the greasiest, cheapest types imaginable. But pizza is a huge category and only a handful of pizzerias use fresh enough ingredients or a thoughtful enough approach to warrant a KC Napkins rating, so I'm setting my sights on what should be the best of the best.
A few of the places I know I'll include: Spin!, Blue Grotto and Pizza Bella. I need more recommendations so if you know of others that fit the criteria above, please, please let me know!