Food & Drink » Restaurant Review

The Pie Orlando’s square pizzas offer a slice of pizza pulchritude

Rome if you want to

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When I strolled the various vias and piazzas of Rome, I couldn't resist stopping every half-hour for a doppio macchiato and a scoop of stracciatella. It posed a true test of intestinal fortitude – all the more so when the enticing wafts of pizza al taglio lured us into one or another of the many little pizzerias we happened upon. These Roman slices, crisp-rimmed and squarish, are saucier, weightier and bolder than their Neapolitan counterparts, and are priced per kilo. Like I said, they're a test of one's intestinal fortitude. When in Rome, I guess ...

Here in Orlando, the Pie in College Park may not offer pizza al taglio by the kilo, but they do offer quite a variety of glorious pizza pulchritude. I've often popped by for a slice of potato pie ($3.95) – one of my favorite slices in our not-so-Eternal City – and walked out feeling like Mario Batali after a binge. The crust is durable enough to withstand the heft of the fat starchy rounds, each garnished with flecks of oregano and garlic, then set in alfredo sauce and mozzarella. The meat-lover ($3.95), another slice of substance, isn't shy about its pack of protein – pepperoni, sausage, meatball, mortadella, prosciutto – all heated to a magnificent glisten. It's the sort of offering that'll have you pondering a meat moratorium for a day or two. Enter the doughy veggie square spangled with elegant slices of plum tomato, frills of spinach, and amorphous blobs of ricotta ($3.95). The thing is, it too will have you vegging out after one slice, so there's no running away from the inevitable bloat.

Pie Orlando's wood-fired oven can get up to 900 degrees Fahrenheit, but most pizzas are cooked at a much lower temperature (around 650 degrees) – that is, unless it gets busy, in which case they'll jack up the heat. This can lead to varying crust textures from visit to visit. We've had crusts with a hard crack, crusts that were yielding and crusts somewhere in between, as was the case with our most recent takeout order of the margherita ($12.95 personal, $16.95 large). Opening the box and seeing the square pizza symmetrically festooned with basil leaves, mozzarella and a sweetish plum tomato sauce had us in full swoon.

Given our close proximity to the pizzeria, we've always gone the takeout route, but should you choose to dine in, you'll do so amid walls plastered with photo murals of Piazza Navona and Vespas and other such Roman streetscapes. Folks working behind the counter aren't always the most experienced or knowledgeable, but the pizzaiolo is usually within earshot to chime in.

From the selection of non-pizza fare, bulbous arancini ($5.99) were gratifying enough, while garlic knots ($1.99 for three, $3.99 for six, $6.99 for 12) weren't nearly as doughy nor orgasmic as Pizza Bruno's rendition. We've heartily indulged in meatballs plopped with ricotta ($6.95), and ended with a trio of house-made cannoli ($3.99), but it's the pizza, vivid and sensual like Rome itself, that has us coming back time and again. College Park residents are fortunate to have a half-dozen pizza options along a one-mile strip of Edgewater Drive but, trust me, you won't find a better pie in these parts, any way you slice it.

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