Premier Pizza — Borgata Pizza Cafe

12 Jan

A few years ago, word began to spread of a new pizza place in town.  Located somewhere along the rather nondescript 161 corridor, it was said that this pizza transcended its unassuming surroundings.  Those in the know, well-versed in Columbus’s other pizza offerings, said that this pizza was special; that it stood out.  Eventually, the trickle became a flood, and it became accepted as common wisdom among a certain set that Borgata Pizza Café made some of the best pizza in town.

I don't know what too me so long to try this pizza! It tastes as great as it looks.

I don’t know what too me so long to try this pizza! It tastes as great as it looks.

Despite all that, despite the recommendations from numerous reliable sources, it took me years to finally make the trip myself.  Every time I thought about getting pizza, my thought was “Oh, that’s too far away.  Let’s just go to [closer pizza shop]. I mean, can the pizza really be that good?”  You know how, as you get older and wiser, you look back and think “If only I could go back in time and tell my younger self what I know now”?  That’s how I feel about my pre-Borgata self.

A couple of weeks ago, shortly after Christmas, a group of us finally made the trek up to 161 to try Borgata Pizza Café for ourselves.  (This coming after a failed attempt when Tania and I tried to go on a Sunday, and discovering it closed, had to settle for Nazareth Deli instead.)  Our group consisted of Tania, Ron, myself, and Tania’s brother David.  It’s important to note here that both Tania and Ron are what one might call “Pizza Fiends.”  That of course is a term of art, designating pizza who would probably eat pizza all day every day if they could.  The fact that they also concur in the conclusion that Borgata Pizza Café is awesome should therefore mean something to you.

For being located in a strip behind a Dunkin Donuts, Borgata actually has a rather pleasant ambiance.   There are tables along one wall, and there’s a counter space, with nice stone countertop.  Sitting at the counter is especially great because of the other, predominant, feature of the restaurant: the large open kitchen.  The open kitchen really makes the space feel very open and welcoming.  Plus, when you sit at the counter, you get to spend your time watching them make pizzas—there’s even some dough throwing that takes place from time to time.

A view into the kitchen at Borgata. The open kitchen really makes the space feel open and welcoming.

A view into the kitchen at Borgata. The open kitchen really makes the space feel open and welcoming.

The open kitchen also contributes to Borgata in other ways as well.  One being that it allows for great customer service.  While sitting at the counter on a recent visit, I think that we were asked at least once by everyone working there how we were doing, if we needed anything else.  Far from being overbearing, the attention we received just reflected a sincere desire on the part of everyone working there to ensure that we enjoyed their pizza as much as possible.

And enjoy we did.

You might have been wondering when I’d finally get around to talking about the pizza.  Well, the answer is now.  The pizza is a traditional one, in the sense that it’s cut into slices, not squares as is common so many other places around town.  The crust is quite thin, and without folding is likely to droop at the point.  If you’ve acquired pizza-folding skills as the result of a life time of eating NY-style pizza, this would be a place to put those skills to use.

Slices, not squares.

Slices, not squares.

The edge of the crust is in the exact right proportion to the toppings.  Unlike so many other slices of pizza, it’s not too thick and bready.  It’s also delicious in its own right.  There is a subtle sweetness to the crust that helps this pie transcend other pizzas.  The delicious flavor of the crust almost makes you look forward to finishing a slice.  Almost.

And that’s because the rest of the pizza is as good as the crust.  The sauce is well-seasoned and slightly sweet. It tastes of tomatoes, with a just the right amount of spices.  It’s well balanced, standing out just enough to remind you it’s there, but blending in enough so that it doesn’t dominate on its own.

The pepperonis are ready for their closeup now.

The pepperonis are ready for their closeup now.

So far I’ve only had the pepperoni, that staple of American pizza toppings.  And it’s really good quality pepperoni.  It’s cut small, so it curls up when baked—my favorite style.  I’m having a hard time putting my finger on what makes these small pepperonis better than others of the same size/shape that I’ve had.  The best description is that they taste more meaty.  That is, it’s not just the pepperoni spices that dominate their flavor, you also can taste the flavors of the cured meat itself.

Finally, the cheese is just right as well.  There’s neither too much, nor too little.  It holds and ties everything together without becoming a cheesy mess.  Like the pepperonis, it seems of an overall higher quality that you usually find on most pizzas.

The quality of the ingredients in Borgata’s pizza reflect an overarching characteristic of the restaurant: their attention to detail.  And I have a great example.  Whenever we’ve gone, I’ve gotten beer with my pizza (really, how can you not?).  The beer selection is limited to cans and bottles of domestic beers, like Budwiser and Yungeling.  Each time, they’ve asked whether I wanted a mug; the answer of course being yes.  And they didn’t just pull a mug from somewhere under the counter.  Instead, each time they’ve disappeared into the large walk-in and emerged with an ice cold frosty mug.  (While some beer of course tastes best at a slightly warmer temperature, I’m still a sucker for an icy cold domestic brew.  Especially with my pizza.)

The wings are also great.  These are just buffalo, but if you like spicy, try the pineapple habanero.

The wings are also great. These are just buffalo, but if you like spicy, try the pineapple habanero.

Pizza isn’t the only thing on the menu at Borgata either.  The first time we went, we were told that their wings were also incredibly popular.  One reason being, they’re not fried like most wings.  Instead, there’s this crazy looking contraption in the kitchen that bakes the wings at very high temperatures.  We had to try them, and, like the pizza they were delicious.  You can’t have wings without traditional buffalo sauce, and of course they do. (And it’s good.)  There’s also a sweet Thai chili option.

The wing-baking contraption.  You can see the wings, and the fire.  Also, the massive dough hook sitting on the counter--used for mixing up the crust.

The wing-baking contraption. You can see the wings, and the fire. Also, the massive dough hook sitting on the counter–used for mixing up the crust.

Most recently though, we had the chance to try the pineapple habanero BBQ sauce.  Made in house, we were told that the sauce was originally developed to go with pulled pork.  Again, like the pizza, the quality of the BBQ sauce really shown through.  It was thick and had a great forward sweetness—with plenty of delayed heat on the back end.  It went very well with the wings, and I can see how it would be excellent on the pulled pork it was originally designed for.  (Also, to the folks at Borgata if you ever read this: It would also provide a great base for a pulled pork pizza…I’m just sayin…)

Finally, there are things on the menu beyond the pizza and wings I have yet to try.  Namely, the pasta.  Borgata has recently started offering a few assorted pastas, which, like everything else, is made in house.  If the pizza is any indication, it should be delicious.  My only problem will be NOT ordering pizza next time I’m in there.

Borgata doesn’t do any advertising, instead relying mostly on word of mouth to drive business.  I’m happy to do my part in spreading the word.  I have a vested self interest in seeing them succeed: I want to keep eating there.  So, next time you’re thinking about heading out for pizza, give a thought to Borgata.  161 really isn’t that far away.   🙂

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One Response to “Premier Pizza — Borgata Pizza Cafe”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. North-Side Dining — Nazareth Restaurant and Deli « Pie are Round - January 12, 2013

    […] (Update: I finally made it to back to Borgata, and here’s my review of Borgata Pizza Cafe.) […]

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