Sunday, March 13, 2011

New York Pizza Kitchen (Napa) Sucks

I've lived across from the Silverado Plaza shopping center (at Soscol and Trancas) for almost 4 years now, but had not yet tried all of the little restaurants there. Mainly because none of them are too special... they consist of:
  • Starbucks (of course)
  • Cold Stone Creamery (fun, but overpriced)
  • High Tech Burrito -- went there once, liked the Godzilla Burrito, went back to get it again... and they had removed it from the menu because it was the only burrito worth its price. Instead, I settled for one of their standard burritos which is $6 and has about two ounces of meat in it. Those cheap bastards will not get another dime from me.
  • Hop Hing Kitchen, a cheap fast-food chinese place (you know, the kind where you pick one or two dishes plus a rice or noodle side. Like Panda Express).
  • New York Pizza Kitchen, which I unfortunately decided to finally try tonight
Today I was suddenly in the mood for a nice, authentic pizza -- we often do Little Caesar's... they're just down the street and a pretty good deal for the $5 it costs for a large pizza and breadsticks on Mondays, and for what it is, it's pretty good... but I wanted something a little more "homemade" today, and after the nice experience at Pizzeria Tra Vigne (which is unfortunately too far to bother driving to at the moment), I figured I'd give New York Pizza Kitchen a try.

I showed up, took a photo, and perused the menu... lots of toppings, but pretty expensive: $14 for a small 12" pizza, $20 for an extra large 18", not including any toppings which are about $2 extra for 1-2 toppings. Most of the toppings are pretty standard, with a few additions like salami, chicken, bacon, fresh basil, and roasted garlic. Some of the more interesting toppings cost extra ($2.50 per topping), which is unfortunate because the thought of artichoke hearts, sundried tomatoes, and feta sounds pretty good.

I was really tempted to try chicken and fresh basil, but called Sarah because she has a weird hang-up about chicken on pizza (she loves chicken and loves pizza, doesn't like chicken on pizza). Sure enough, she told me to get a veggie option -- mushrooms and roasted garlic. Despite that I really do like chicken pizza, this option was fine by me because I have always loved mushroom pizza, and roasted garlic is a rare opportunity... slow-roasted cloves, all soft and sweet and somewhat caramelized.

Only... this wasn't the case. I sat at the front table for 20 minutes reading the newspaper and waiting for my pizza. When it finally arrived I took it and headed home (about 1 minute away)... as soon as I got in, I opened the cardboard box and saw what appeared to be minced raw garlic - the kind you can get in the big, bulk jars pre-chopped and drowning in garlic juice. Apparently what they do for their "roasted garlic" topping is to take minced RAW garlic, slap some spoonfuls on top, and throw it in the oven for 8 minutes so that it chars (but remains raw) while the crust cooks and cheese melts? Unacceptable. There was nothing "roasted" about this... their garlic is straight-up raw. I took a few pieces off with my finger and realized the pizza would be pretty much inedible (roasting garlic mellows out the flavor, allows you to eat large doses at a time).

Well, when I returned to say that I was returning the pizza and wouldn't be accepting it (I hadn't eaten a single bite, other than the slivers of garlic I picked off to test), the goofy young guy behind the counter said "What do you mean? It's roasted... see? It's dark. It went in the oven."

I said "No. This is raw garlic. Sticking it in an oven for 8 minutes does not make it roasted garlic. You need to either take that off your menu or change the name to 'minced garlic', because this is not roasted garlic." He refused to accept that so finally I said "You know what, fine. I'll just dispute the charge on my card and tell the whole Internet how much you guys suck." Then he got quiet and found my receipt, handed me some cash back to leave.

I went to their website to try to send them an email with a link to a Google search for "roasted garlic" -- in which I don't see a single website showing a method where you take minced raw garlic and throw it on a pizza for a few minutes. Of course, their web skills are about as savvy as their pizza-making and garlic knowledge, so they have some crappy cookie cutter website provided by AT&T and, of course, no email address.

It really makes me wonder what their other toppings are like. Is the "fresh basil" actually dried basil? Is the "bacon" actually Baco-Bits?

Sad. There are only a few pizza places in Napa that I know of, but I think I'll stick to $5 pizzas from Little Caesar's (at least I know what I'm getting and it doesn't involve paying $20 for a bunch of attitude and crappy customer service) or maybe I'll try Browns Valley Pizza at some point...

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