Thankful for Langel’s Pizza this Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving, I not only got to enjoy TWO Thanksgiving dinners on the same day but I also got to try out some new pizza on Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving Eve is one of the top five busiest days of the year for pizza delivery and I’m not surprised at all. Everyone is so busy prepping for the big meal the next day that nobody wants to cook anything. This year, Eric and I went to Indiana on Wednesday night to spend the first half of Thanksgiving with his brother Craig. And like everyone else, we didn’t feel like cooking anything for dinner that night either. So we decided to go to this pizza place/bar a few blocks from Craig’s house called Langel’s Pizza.

Langel’s Pizza is located at 2833 Highway Ave in Highland, Indiana. We decided to sit in the screened-in porch area in the front of the restaurant. Unfortunately, we were sitting in the section of a not-so-stellar waitress. All three of us ordered a Gumballhead beer on draft. After what seemed to be a pretty long time our waitress came back with one draft beer and just looked at us. Then she told us that the Gumballhead keg ran out and that one of us will get the Gumballhead beer and the other two will be getting Jinx Proof which was the keg that was replacing the Gumballhead one. We all just looked at each other, wondering why she was the one deciding this for us. What is Jinx Proof anyways? None of us had even had this beer before and how did we even know if we were going to like it or not? So we asked her if she could bring us a taste of the Jinx Proof and told her that we’d decide from there. I went ahead and decided that I would just have the Gumballhead beer since it was already at the table :) After a long time had passed again, the waitress stopped by our table just to tell us that they were still changing out the keg (I graciously offered to share my beer with Eric and Craig at this point because I felt guilty sitting there drinking it in front of them.) Finally she came back with a small cup of the Jinx Proof for them to try. But instead of waiting to see how we liked the new beer, she dropped off the cup and walked away. So we had to wait yet again to simply even order the rest of our drinks. She finally returned and Eric decided to to go ahead and get the Jinx Proof and Craig just went with a Blue Moon. In the meantime our pizza had already shown up….BEFORE the other beers even did!!

Langel's Pizza

So let’s talk about the pizza. We ordered a 16″ thin crust with crumbled sausage and bacon. A fairly simple pizza. When we got the pizza, the first thing I noticed was that the entire thing was covered with the crumbled sausage. No skimping there! It almost looked like ground beef in a way but it had a really good flavor and you could taste it in every bite which I really liked. The bacon on the other hand I felt was lacking. The pizza could have really used some more bacon on there. I liked the taste of the sauce and they used a good amount of sauce on the pizza which is always important to me. The dough was nice and airy and had a good thickness to it. It even had some really nice air bubbles in it (which are always fun to pop). I thought they did a great job on the crust. There was also a good amount of cheese. It was nice and stringy and so oozy that it almost took off all your toppings with it when you tried to take a new slice. So all in all the pizza was pretty good. I would rate this pizza a 3 out of 5 stars. I would definitely go back despite having to wait a lot on our waitress (maybe she was just having a bad night, afterall.. she wasn’t eating pizza.) And in the summertime, they open up the screened-in porch area so I bet it has a really nice atmosphere to it.

The beers finally did arrive but since they took so long, we chose not to stay for a second  round. Instead, we decided to enjoy the growlers of Daisy Cutter we picked up from Half Acre Brewery on our way out to Indiana that we had waiting for us back at the house. It was a fun night of pizza, beer, chopping and prepping our Thanksgiving meal while listening to Gobble Gobble mix 2012 on the iPad!!

(Interesting tidbit: While writing this blog post I was eating… pizza. Shocking, I know! Although it was one I have already reviewed – Panino’s. You can see my review here: https://chicagopizzagirl.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/paninos-pizza-in-lakeview/

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Ernestos Pizza (aka Ernie’s)

This past weekend was opening day for the Tigers in Detroit, MI. So we packed up the Prius and headed down to MI on Thursday night. The game was fun as always. Great times with some really great people. Then on Saturday morning we continued on our way to Harbor Beach to visit with Eric’s mom for the rest of the weekend. And one thing that Eric always has to get when he his back in his home town is pizza from Ernestos Pizza. So I said, “Sign me up!”

Ernestos

The first time I experienced Ernestos was a year ago around this time when we went down for the Tigers opening weekend again. It’s a very quaint little pizza shop located in the downtown area of Harbor Beach. There’s only a few booths and tables on one side of the restaurant, a vintage juke box in the corner that plays old and new 45’s and of course the kitchen in the back. While we sat there eating our pizza in one of the booths, a family came in with two smaller children. Eric kept laughing because one of the little boys (I would say around the age of 3 or 4) kept popping up over the edge of our booth and smiling. Next thing I knew, I felt something touching me on my head….this little boy was actually petting me. The reaction of his mother led us to believe that this was a very common thing he did when they took their kids out to eat. The mom begrudgingly said “Oh no, not again!” And then they quickly decided to get their pizza to go and left the restaurant.

As entertaining as that was, we couldn’t stay and eat in at Ernestos this time around. So we ordered our pizza for pick up. We decided to order a large pizza with bacon, pepperoni and mushrooms on it because we knew we’d want a ton of leftovers… this pizza is almost just as good the next day as it is fresh. Eric actually likes it even better cold the next day.

Anways, the pizza was just absolutely delicious. They put a really significant amount of bacon on it so you definitely notice the smokiness of the bacon flavor. You taste bacon with pretty much every bite! The secret to their sauce is that it has a sweetness to it. And it has a good thickness to it if you ask me. Not too runny. I could also taste garlic in the sauce which always makes me happy. Speaking of garlic, there was definitely a hint of garlic in the crust. The crust has a really nice buttery flavor to it. It’s light and soft but has some good texture to the bottom of it. The cheese was really good too. I could tell it was a good quality mozzarella that they use. Although, I hear back in the day the cheese used to be even better. I guess they’ve changed owners over the years. All in all, this pizza had good substance to it. It wasn’t too thin but it wasn’t quite a pan pizza either. I will have to give this pizza 4.5 stars. If I had tried this pizza years ago when the ingredients were even better than they are now.. I bet this pizza would be a solid 5 for sure!

Ernestos Pizza

Paisano’s Pizza in Virginia

Two weekends ago I was out of town yet again. This time I was visiting my brother and his family in Virginia. I promise I will start reviewing more pizzas in Chicago now since I’m finally going to be home for a few weekends. I mean I AM “Chicago” Pizza Girl after all. Anyways, it was a Friday night and of course when you have out of town guests and a lot going on, nobody really wants to cook right? So we opted for a nice quick and easy dinner and ordered Paisano’s Pizza.

Since my brother Bob and his wife Kim are vegetarians we decided to get some pizzas without meat. I know.. this is a change for me since I usually order meat toppings. But, I like most veggies on my pizza anyways, so it was fine by me. On one pizza, we ordered mushrooms and tomatoes and on the other pizza we got onion, green peppers and olives. I typically don’t like onion on my pizzas. But I said I would at least give it another shot (for the blog of course)!

Paisano's olive and pepper pizza

So there we were, the siblings all together again. My cousin Steve, who now lives in Virginia as well, came over to join us for dinner too. The pizza was your typical thin crust pie. It reminded me of something you might get from your average college town actually. I liked the crust. It was very light and airy. Great for dipping in ranch dressing. I have to say, I gave the onions a try on the one pizza and I am still not a big fan of them. But.. I didn’t hate it. I ate the whole slice. I enjoy onions in lots of things actually. I like red onions in salads, sometimes on sandwiches, grilled onions on bratwursts or hot dogs, in pasta, or soups, etc. But for whatever reason, I have never really been a fan of onions on my pizzas. Oh well, at least I gave it another shot. And while we’re on the topic of toppings I’m not a huge fan of, I must say I wasn’t a lover of the green peppers either. This is not one I usually order as a topping. If I had to switch it out with red peppers, I would be fine with that. I love red peppers. The mushroom and tomato pizza was very satisfying though. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the pizza. I could easily go back for more.

Paisano's mushroom and tomato pizza

I would probably give this pizza a rating of 3. Bob and Kim seem to be big fans of this pizza. But I’m thinking that maybe they have just been away from Chicago for too long now to remember what really good pizza tastes like. (I mean, it has been about 4 months now since they’ve moved)  :) Kidding Bob, love you! To be fair, it did hit the spot and I did enjoy it. In fact this is my second time eating it since we ordered it the last time I visited as well. And I would order it again in the future. Ordering pizza was just one of the many things that made this trip to Virginia a great one!

Oh, and on a side note, some of you will be happy to know that they do deliver beer. It says so right on the side of the box! Enjoy.

Miguel’s Pizza at The Red River Gorge in KY

A couple of weekends ago my friends and I did a girl’s weekend trip to the Red River Gorge in Slade, KY for some rock climbing, hiking, swimming, and all around childish fun! We rented a cabin this time as opposed to setting up a tent and camping as we usually do. If there’s one thing my climber friends know about the Red River Gorge (besides how great the climbing is of course) it’s Miguel’s Pizza. So there wasn’t even a question on where we’d grab dinner on Saturday night after a great day of climbing and swimming at the watering hole.

Miguel’s Pizza was founded in the mid-80s by Miguel Ventura. He created this small pizza joint now widely known amongst the climbing community that go to the Red. They not only serve pizza, but they also accommodate camping for all the climbers at a rate of only $2 a night.

Some might say that an exhausted climber would eat just about anything after a days worth of climbing and call it great. But the pizza at Miguel’s truly is exceptional. You place your order by simply filling out a piece of paper and checking off the toppings you’d like to have on it. They have everything from potatoes to chick peas to eggplant as far as toppings go. You name it, they probably have it!

So after our day of climbing we decided to grab some pizza. The order I got in on was fairly simple. Just a sausage and mushroom pizza. I have to say, when I usually order from Miguel’s for myself, I get maybe 3x’s as many toppings. But since I was sharing this pizza, I decided to go with the flow and get something that we all knew everyone would enjoy. I only make it to the Red about 2 times a year if I’m lucky and I always look forward to getting Miguel’s pizza. But when I took a bite of the pizza I just ordered.. it just wasn’t bringing back the memories I have had in the past. It was just kinda “eh” for me. I’ve had this pizza sooo many times before and already KNOW that it’s in my top 5 favorite pizzas of all time. So I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t that impressed with the pizza this time. I thought to myself, “I can’t give this pizza the proper rating it deserves. Not like this!”

Sausage and mushroom pizza at Miguel's

Well, the next day, two of our friends had to head back home a little earlier than my friend Erinn and I. So we decided, “What the heck! Why not grab lunch at Miguel’s before we go!” :) My eyes lit up with excitement once we came to this decision. Now, I could get another pizza and give this review a second chance since I wasn’t so thrilled with the pizza I had gotten the night before. This time, I loaded up on the toppings. I got feta cheese, mushroom, pepperoni, roasted garlic, bacon and kalamata olives. Let me tell you…it was out of this world! There was the smile I was waiting for.  :) It was everything I remembered and more. The roasted garlic really made the pizza. There were entire cloves roasted and thrown right on there. It was sooo delicious. Much more sweet than just raw garlic too. My friend Erinn and I have always said that they must put some sort of secret ingredient in their dough. Because it has such a unique taste. We each had ordered our own separate halves of the pizza so we’d have leftovers to take home. Yes, we drove the extra 2 slices each a good 7 hours home in our car. It’s just that good.

Miguel's Pizza 2

I felt much better leaving KY knowing I could give this pizza the good rating that it deserved. After all, it is one of my favorite pizzas to order. I give this pizza a 4 rating. Oh, and one last thing before I forget. Don’t forget to order the ginger ale if you’re ever out that way. It is called Ale 8 and is made local right there in KY for only $1.00 a bottle!

Pangea’s Pizza Pub in Traverse City, MI

Since I have been doing this blog, I feel like whenever I’m out of town I have to try and find a pizza place to blog about. Soooo, that’s exactly what I did. This past weekend I went to Traverse City, MI for a wedding. I have never been to Traverse City before and I have to say it was a really pretty area. Our hotel was right on the beach and the downtown area was only minutes away. On our way out of town on Sunday, we stopped for lunch at Pangea’s Pizza Pub located at 135 East Front Street Traverse City, MI 49684. It was right in the middle of the downtown area next to several really cute little shops, cafes, etc.

We decided to order a medium pepperoni and bacon pizza with a garlic butter crust. I don’t know if you can tell by now what toppings are my favorite. :) I tend to always get very similar toppings. I know, I know. I should probably starting changing that up a bit huh? Of course when you know what you like.. why not stick with it right? I have to say, when the waitress suggested the garlic crust it didn’t even take me 0.5 seconds to decide if I wanted this or not. I was sold and very much looking forward to it. When the pizza arrived, well…just look at it!

Pangea's PizzaPangea's Pizza up close

You can see from the picture that the crust was covered with lots of yummy, delicious garlic butter. It almost reminded me of eating Crazy Bread from Little Caesars, but so much better. The cheese was perfectly melted with just the right amount of light brown coloring around the edges. The bacon pieces that were covering the pizza were actually nice size slices and not just tiny crumbles of bacon. So I really got a nice sense of the bacon flavor when I got a bite with bacon on it. It was a good amount of pizza for lunch. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I do love my Chicago style deep dish pizzas. But sometimes, I just want a regular sized slice of pizza. Not something that was going to make me go in to a food coma. This pizza wasn’t too filling but definitely did the trick. I was full when it was time to leave and had leftovers as usual.

Now for the sad and disappointing part of the story. Yesterday, I reheated this pizza for lunch thinking “Oh my god, I can’t wait to taste that awesome buttery, garlic crust!” Well, when I pulled the pizza out of the microwave at lunch, it had turned in to a mushy, soggy looking mess. I was so confused at first because I had never really had something like this happen to my pizza before when reheating it. I took my fork and lifted up the bottom of the crust and it just flopped around, very flimsy-like. I was so sad. At first I thought.. do I tough it out and just eat it? I had been looking forward to it so much. I tried to pick it up  by the end of the crust at first but no such luck. It kept folding and toppings were sliding off on to my plate. Next, I tried cutting it with a knife and fork. I actually had a few bites. The flavor was still very good. I will admit. You could still taste all the garlic on the crust. But the texture was just too slimy and soggy for me. So I pushed my pizza aside and didn’t finish the rest. So sad. I’ve never really had any pizza mishaps like this before so I was very thrown off my game. So I guess I would have to rate this pizza as a 3. When eaten fresh, this pizza was very very delicious. Good sauce, cheese, toppings and I don’t think I have to mention again how much I loved the garlic crust. I think it would be a pizza I would definitely have every now and then. Of course I don’t live in Traverse City, but the next time I’m there, I would definitely stop in for another slice for sure!

Pangea's Pizza Slice

Reviewing pizza from the road – DaVinci’s Italian Restaurant in IN

This weekend I went on a road trip to Ohio to go to Cedar Point and ride some roller coasters! We left Chicago right around 5:00pm on Friday and actually got out of the city in fairly good timing. Once we were well on our way (in Indiana at this time), we decided it was time to stop for some dinner. We were kind of in the mood for Italian so we were originally thinking Fazolis, since we had seen a sign for it along the highway and figured it would be quick. But once we got off the exit, we passed this local Italian restaurant named DaVinci’s and our decision was made. Fazolis did not win out this time! So, we decided to give DaVinci’s a try.

So, first we had to decide between thin, regular or thick. We had no preference really so we went with regular. Then we ordered a medium sausage and mushroom pizza with a delicious brusheta appetizer that came with kalamata olives and artichoke hearts so I was one happy camper.

DaVinci's Pizza

When the pizza came, it was much bigger than we expected. So we had lots of leftovers for the weekend. I must say, the crust was great. It had a great crispiness to it and it even had lots of bubbles in the crust which I am a big fan of. I still want to know how they get those in there. Does it have to do with the temperature they cook it at? If anyone knows this secret, please let me know. The sausage was really really good too. It wasn’t that crappy dried out, rabbit turd sausage that you sometimes get at cheaper pizza places or on frozen pizzas. It had a lot of great flavor that left a lasting impression on me. I will say that sauce was a little bit runny or thin. It was  a good flavor, but it either needed to be a little bit thicker or there needed to be more sauce on the pizza. Not sure which really. Now the mushrooms… I completely forgot they were even on the pizza. We decided that they were probably just those mushrooms that you get out of a can at the grocery store. They didn’t seem to make any sort of impression on us. I certainly don’t think they were fresh since I could barely taste them.

But overall, the pizza was really good. I did eat 3 slices after all. But to my defense, my first slice was really thin. And the leftovers we had, made it all the way back to Chicago with us. Luckily there was a mini fridge in the hotel with us. How we didn’t scarf that down before we left? I don’t know. I have to say Indiana, I was pleasantly surprised with your local pizza establishment off of a highway exit in Elkhart, IN. I would rate this pizza establishment as a 3.

DaVinci's Pizza 2