The few people I know who were able to make it to Vinino, the Italian restaurant that occupied one of the primo spaces across from the Sprint Center when P&L first “launched”, said that they actually liked the food. It just wasn’t the right type of restaurant for that location. Too fancy-shmancy. Too close to the loud buzz of the raucous sports and concert crowds at McFadden’s, Raglan Road, PBR, and the like.
Taking a page from its P&L success stories, Cordish closed Vinino and transformed it into The Pizza Bar. Walking in, I was expecting something more in the vein of its predecessor, but Pizza Bar is not dressy affair. It’s just a jumbo-sized pizzeria, replete with a few bars, video games and TV’s on every wall. On the Saturday afternoon when we made our trip, it was nearly a ghost town. Only one or two other small tables of patrons occupied the cavernous restaurant. The scantily clad hostess was lazily hanging out at one of the bars, paying no attention to the front of the house. When the manager on duty noticed we were standing there, unattended and slightly bewildered, I saw her eyes roll in frustration at the poor service she knew her team was exhibiting. We seated ourselves at her request.
Our server was a bench-warmer. He didn’t care about us or whether we were having a good experience. No smiles, slow service (though we were his only table), drinks never refilled… nothing to offer.
We ordered half our pizza with their meatballs (cut into thick slices) and the other half with Scimeca’s Italian sausage, peppers and onions. There are no choices of size – if you order a pizza, you get a rather large (16”, perhaps) pie with thin crust. The crust wasn’t bad,.. it was somewhere between “nothing special” and “not great”. But I was expecting a lot more from this single-minded establishment. When pizza makes up half of your menu, you ought to have something more impressive than this crust up your sleeve.
I don’t care whether a pizza is healthy or not, but the amount of yellow grease standing on top of the cheese was off-putting, both visually and digestively speaking. I blame the excessive grease on head pizza pie-man, Salvatore DiFatta’s method of using raw sausage on the pizza, rather than pre-cooked sausage. All the fat and juices from the sausage end up sitting on top of the pizza when it comes out of the oven and onto your table. It doesn’t taste good, it just tastes like grease.
Our experience at The Pizza Bar was nothing short of terrible. I’m sure I could enjoy the place for what it is – a roomy sports bar with decent pizza – after taking in a game and a few beers at the Sprint Center. But as a restaurant, this place has nothing to offer. Don’t make a special trip down to the tough-to-stomach P&L district just to try The Pizza Bar.
Rating: zero napkins