"Italian Garden Pizzeria" is the type of pizza joint you happen upon by chance when you’re out and about and get a sudden craving for pizza. You may even find it on Yelp by sheer coincidence but the name doesn’t exactly set it apart, though the food certainly does.
I’ve gone twice so far within a week and I can’t stop craving that pesto and mozzarella pizza pie of theirs. The ingredients all stand out in flavor and texture and the dough is never burnt at the bottom like so many New York style pizza places mistakenly do. You can’t go wrong with any type of pie you get here because the chefs have made a strong impression with their choice of adding key ingredients that really bring out the flavor.
That isn’t to say there aren’t some weak points. The calzone, for example, is average and could use some garlic or an olive oil pepper additive to accompany it. It tastes a bit too simple for something I expect a small kick out of with the pepperoni inside. The feta cheese also doesn’t really stand out as above any standard set by other restaurants like NYPD. In combination with just a little too much dough, it drowns out the standard pepperoni and mozzarella that should come through.
The garlic bread that I started out with does in some way stand out though. It is drenched in a garlic glaze and salted over top effectively. This gives the appetizer all the necessary flavors it needs to satisfy taste buds. My only issue with it is although it is a softer bread it still results in a mouthful of starchiness that takes away from the garlic.
The bread should be made with the garlic in mind and it just wasn’t quite strong enough for me to come to that conclusion. The glaze itself was definitely above average but the bread needed to be cut differently to better service the flavor (about half its current size per piece with additional garlic).
As for the overall atmosphere of the restaurant, I didn’t hear any music let alone Italian themed music. The booths were very comfortable though so, overall, the feel of the restaurant averages out at typical but no more than that. I wouldn’t hesitate ordering takeout seeing as how the interior is standard fare.
Finally, I've tried two out of the four dessert offerings. The rice pudding could simply use more cinnamon layered into the center. Besides that, it is top tier and I can taste that it's made in-house.
The chocolate cake has a creamy mousse center with crunchy yet soft cake borders. This was by far my favorite dessert here and among my top five favorite desserts out of any Italian restaurant. With that said, I really have no complaints about the chocolate cake. It does what you expect and then some. So long as thick creaminess is to one’s liking it is an excellent finish for a meal here.
All things considered, the pizza and dessert at this restaurant are highly recommended. But this also isn’t the type of place I would consider exploring the other items of the menu further. In fact, if there is more room for improvement, I would consider getting rid of the calzone section altogether. It leaves a bad impression next to the superior pizza quality.
8/10: Good but needs to either get rid of some average dishes or improve them to be superb. It slays in the culinary areas it needs to but nothing extra. Calzone lovers beware.