In my line of work, one must embrace the fact that a restaurant can be an ephemeral thing—while some stand unchanged for decades as bastions of hospitality, others come and go like the changing of the seasons.
So it was with some sense of trepidation that I approached my latest investigation, Brozinni Pizzeria, a new restaurant just off the Village Green at 140 West Main Street.
The place was jam-packed on a weekend evening in autumn, and as we waited we watched the nimble and speedy servers handle the tide of orders coming and going from the kitchen, bussing and cleaning tables, while graciously and politely seating and serving us.
These folks do not get enough credit by half for their contribution to the local hospitality industry.
The antipasto at Brozinni—ham, salami, and Provolone cheese with cukes, grape tomatoes, red onions, and black olives—is getting a great rap around town, and I understand that the chef salad is excellent. There’s also a first-rate Greek salad with Feta cheese and Kalmatra olives.
Lurking among the appetizers are some fresh-baked concoctions called “garlic knots”—house-made dough tied in a knot and drizzled with garlic butter and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese—“soon to be world famous,” according to the menu.
I was delighted to find a full complement of calzones, those stuffed crust pockets of meaty and cheesy goodness, on the menu. There were so many, it was hard to know where to start.
A simple cheese calzone, stuffed with Mozzarella and Ricotta is near perfection, but why not add spinach to that pie? You know that Popeye would. How about ham and cheese, or the “meat lovers” ’zone with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and ham? Or even a Buffalo chicken calzone with hot sauce and crushed red pepper, chicken, bacon, and mozzarella?
It’s so hard to choose—one of the few drawbacks to an evening at Brozinni.
I settled on the classic Stromboli with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, mozzarella, mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, and red onions.
I left it to my lovely and charming spouse to choose a pizza, even though I feared she would break my iron-clad rule of always ordering exactly the same pizza for purposes of comparison with all previously eaten pizzas. I’ve learned a lot from married life.
You can order regular crust or “grandma’s pie” crust in a 16 or 20 inch pie with your choice from among 18 toppings. Just a word to the wise here—you’re going to want more pizza than you think, because it is utterly delicious.
Brozinni Pizzeria fancies itself as “a taste of New York,” with giant photos of Manhattan skyscrapers adorning the walls. And so their specialty pizzas are named after various Manhattan boulevards and byways. The “Broadway” has spinach, mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, and red onions; the “Park Avenue,” pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and ham; and the “Canal Street” is a combination of the two. The “Garden State Parkway” has a sweeter, chunkier tomato sauce; the “34th Street” is a white pie with ricotta cheese, roasted garlic, basil, and no red sauce; the “Kissena Boulevard” is a meatball parmesan pizza with mozzarella and fresh basil.
Mrs. Sampler ordered a cheese pizza with pepperoni and black olives. This is what happens when you let amateurs mess around with the system.
I cannot complain, however, because when the pizza arrived, hot and freshly handmade, it was not only beautiful to behold, but completely delicious. I was obliged to eat at least one slice, you understand, purely for professional reasons. The crust was fresh, tough yet tender in all the right ways, perfectly cooked, and with plentiful and tasty toppings.
Then comes the Stromboli calzone. This thing is a beast, a true work of culinary art. It must weigh in at about a pound and a half, a gigantic meat and cheese concoction, golden brown and steaming hot through the darling little vents sliced in the top of the pastry.
I told my wife, it’s what a microwave hot pocket dreams of one day becoming.
It comes with a side of house-made marinara, or you can get cheese, ranch dressing, or garlic butter as a dip.
The massive calzone was so big and beautiful it was hard to know where to attack. Eschewing cutlery, I grabbed the warm, meat-stuffed envelope of crust with both hands and ate it like a sandwich. It was scrumptious and delectable, and made my heart sing with gladness.
And so, yet again, I was profoundly satisfied.
Brozinni Pizzeria is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11a.m. to 10:30 p.m. It is family-friendly, walk-ins are welcome.