So, a Connecticut girl opens a pizza joint in Orlando and, hold up, it doesn't serve New Haven-style pizza?! No clam pie?! Sacrilege! cry the Nutmeggers! Profanation! yowl the Yalies! Indeed, Brianna Feldman forsook the coal-fired, thin-crust, Neapolitan-like oblongs of her home state in favor of a pie that's very much its opposite — grandma-style pizza. That's a pie baked in an oil-lined square pan resulting in crispy edges, like the one made famous by Prince Street Pizza in New York City. Only Buttercrust's pies aren't technically grandma pies. They're a lot more like Detroit-style squares, with their thick and spongy focaccia-like crusts crisped around the edges. When I popped by a couple of months back and picked up a Kickin' Hawaiian ($21.95) and a pepperoni pie ($18.95), the sweet chili pineapple indeed kicked, and I liked how the pepperoni cupped into little grease traps.
What I wasn't very much impressed by was the less-than-airy crust. It's what makes a Motor City pie worth motoring for, after all. But studying the profile of the square slice from the comfort of my car proved dispiriting. Also deflating, at least for cold pizza lovers, is that the pizza is darned near inedible the following day. But the same could be said for any Detroit-style pizza. I ordered a pie from Motown institution Jet's Pizza in Apopka and, while it was an absolute score the day of, it too was a day-after failure cold. Granted, both squares revivify quite nicely if thrown into a toaster oven for a few minutes.
Fast-forward a couple of months and I'm back at Buttercrust with some pizza enthusiast comrades. We get a another "Kickin' Hawaiian" along with a "Plantlover" ($21.95) and the "Triple Mac & Cheesiest" ($16.95). Because there's no place to eat it inside, we kinda snuck our boxes onto the patio of Gatlin Hall Brewery and ate the pizza on one of their picnic tables. And, yes, we got beers from the brewery — we're not complete wankers. In fact, Gatlin's Sun Glitch hefeweizen went great with pizza, which happened to be a whole lot better than that first go-around. The crust, thick, soft and cushioned by air pockets, held the toppings nicely — ham, bacon and sweet chili pineapple, in the case of the "Kickin' Hawaiian." The addition of jalapeños turned the kick into a proper punt.
If you find the prices to be a kick to your wallet, just know that the slabs here are substantially filling — none more so than the top-heavy "Plantlover," with its green peppers, mushrooms, onions, olives, spinach and roasted red peppers. It's finished with a basil pesto swirl and resembles some sort of edible Jackson Pollock painting. "This is more an open-faced sandwich than pizza," observed one of my dining comrades. It's not one you'd find at any roadside diner, however.
- Photos by Rob Bartlett
For all the hype surrounding the square buttercrust pie, a traditional, less poofy, round pizza is also offered. But it can also get pretty hefty. The "Triple Mac & Cheesiest" only comes as a round pie option, because a sturdier crust is needed to hold the weighty topping. Honestly, we all found the mac and cheese to stand on its own — the crust is hardly needed.
FWIW, Jet's Pizza also offers a butter crust option, in addition to seven other crust flavors, but you won't find spinach-artichoke pinwheels there ($8.95). These doughy numbers at Buttercrust are as fat as biscuits and, dare I say, better than garlic knots. They're the perfect game-day snack, too. A pepperoni version ($9.95) is also offered, as are mozz-stuffed "Cheese Bombs" and zeppole-like Parmesan bread bites. But let's face it, if you're ordering from Buttercrust, it's the crispy-edged square pizza you're looking for. After all, it is their bread and butter.