I am drawn like moths to flame to wood-fired/brick-oven/wood-oven pizzas. My infatuation began nearly 30 years ago with my first visit to John’s Pizzeria in New York City and hasn’t ebbed since. If you build a wood-fired pizza oven, I will come.
That’s how I found myself in Syracuse last week, at Santa Monica Pizza & Pasta Co. (there’s also an Ogden location). I was drawn in by the words “wood fired” on their menu and Website. Along with wood-fired pizzas, Santa Monica P&P also specializes in pasta, calzones and “pastazones” (pasta stuffed into a calzone).
I thought it odd when the teenage gal who took my pizza order asked if it was OK if she charged me 75 cents for the extra onion topping, since it said right on the menu that additional toppings are 75 cents. “Uh, sure,” I said. Was I supposed to negotiate the topping price? One in our party ordered a small shrimp salad, advertised as being topped with “Parmesan, herbed croutons and pear tomatoes.” It came topped with zero croutons, shredded cheddar, and big wedges of unripe Roma tomatoes—not a pear tomato in sight. When we pointed out the discrepancy to the young manager, he responded, “Yeah, the chef likes to mix things up!”
The tough, burned crust from the 1,000-degree pizza oven was truly disappointing. So were the dense, bland meatballs in the calzone (also burned) I tried, which were badly in need of garlic and/ or onions and herbs. Most disappointing, though, is that there are zero wood-fired ovens at Santa Monica Pizza & Pasta Co. They use gas ovens. Wood never gets near them, making me wonder what’s “wood fired” about Santa Monica P&P’s pizzas? There’s a reason that Santa Monica isn’t exactly famous for its pizza.
SANTA MONICA PIZZA & PASTA CO.
2432 W. Antelope Drive