Alright ya…I’ve been wanting to stuff my face with pizza and about darn time. Perfect weather for a visit to Bishop Arts, my fellow foodie friend @phileats_ and I had our sights set on Zoli’s NY Pizza off Zang and Beckley. This spot opens at 11a on the weekends and we strolled in happily with healthy appetites.
First impression: small parking lot, cozy pizza joint. Great for a quick bite if you want to buy a slice from the daily choices. There is a variety of pizzas (NY, Sicilian or Grandma) and strombolis to choose from and everything is pretty straightforward. It’s pizza. All we wanted was a great slice (or 4) without all the fuss.
The menu is vague but in a good way. Instead of ordering a standard pie with added toppings, we wanted to be more adventurous. It seems what is on display is based on whatever they feel like making at the moment. There isn’t a set list of special pizzas. There’s something liberating about limited choices you don’t know about till you get there. So I asked for a slice of each pizza or stromboli from the top row of the case. I wanted to create my own sampler dish in order to get a better picture of how I would like Zoli’s. The service was definitely friendly and helpful. The average price per slice is around $4-$5 and I believe the stromboli was around $10-$12. My tab was $28 for 4 slices. A little pricey to me, but hey…it’s basically gourmet pizza 4 different ways. What the hell, why not. I’ll do it for my readers!
1. Daily Special: NY Style Mushroom, bacon, and pepperoni.
This was love at first sight. The mushrooms, the generous sprinkle of meats, the sesame seeds on the crust… Fresh pie right out the oven and my mouth was salivating. Sadly, disappointing. For thin crust, I expected it to be a little more crispy on the bottom. I know it’s suppose to be floppy, but meh. It tasted salty. In order to appreciate this pizza, you really need to have a love for pizza sans the tomato sauce, but I suppose I need my sauce. I really wanted to have that tomato sweetness and tang to break the monotony that of the cheese and the meats. Loved the crust what they did to the crust though. It’s always the extra touch that differentiates pizzerias from each other.
2. Hero of the Day: Stromboli: ground beef, bell peppers, cheese
This was probably my second favorite. The breading had that awesome crunch on the outside and soft center. The ratio of bread to filling of seasoned ground beef, chopped bell peppers and cheese was spot on. It was a little salty for my friend @phileats_, but I liked it. And whenever I needed some tang, I happily dipped it into the side of tomato sauce that came with it. Strombolis are served with a small side salad. The salad seemed more like an after thought. It was nice to have something fresh, but it certainly didn’t add pizazz.
3. Sicilian Style Pizza: Cheese, Herbs, and splotches of tomato?
I didn’t really get this pizza. This Sicilian pizza was very ok. Or maybe I’m just not of fan of this style of pizza. It looks great. I’m getting tired of great looking pizzas that don’t taste so great. Seriously…stop teasing my taste buds. The Sicilian pizzas are served in squares cuts and are more savory. I believe there is a bit of anchovy in the sauce that you wouldn’t otherwise know it was there. It’s mostly cheese and toppings and random dollops of sauce. There was just nothing exciting about this slice. I believe my initial reaction was summed up in one word: meh.
4. Grandma slice: cheese and tomato sauce
This was my favorite. I’m not a fan of thick pizzas, but this grandma-style slice, served in a square shape took the cake. Grandma-style pizzas have a medium thickness and are cooked in a steel pan with a chunky, pomodoro sauce. The dough was firm and airy and had that satisfying initial crunch. The cheese and sauce were a great combo. It seemed the simplest pizza was probably the best. The sauce was nice and sweet and it really just brought it all together. I ate the whole damn thing and didn’t bother with the rest.
At the end of the meal, I was a little disappointed that I only enjoyed one slice out of three. Perhaps it’s my affinity for pizza with a layer of tomato sauce that makes me bias, but I’m about the overall taste of everything. Is it too sweet or salty? Was there justice done with the cheese? Does the first bite completely shut me up?
My fellow foodie and I would give this place 3 stars just based on our taste buds. Since we both live so far from Bishop Arts, we realistically would never make the trek out here just for Zoli’s, but I would come back for that grandma slice of awesome if I am nearby. This is a great place for a quick slice if you’re in the neighborhood. Their $10 lunch special offers a great value and it’s definitely better than Eno’s Pizza just down the street.
Special thank you to my friend Phil for taking awesome pictures and sticking around to talk about food for hours. I envy your photog skills. Everyone should follow him on Instagram @phileats_