I like cheese pizza as much as the next guy does. But not as much as the next kid. Pizza is a real kid kind of thing, so when I was asked to do a taste-test of cheese pizzas in Darien, I enlisted my children Charlotte (12 years old) and Matthew (10) so I could get their invaluable kid input.
We ordered a small cheese pizza from each of four places—Post Corner Pizza, Heights Pizza, Papa Joe’s and Bertucci’s—drove and picked it up, brought it home, and then tested it. We ranked the pizzas from 1 (bad) to 5 (unbelievably good), and we all had different opinions about the merits of each pizza.
Post Corner 203-655-7721
847 Boston Post Rd, Darien
Small cheese pizza: $7.95 (delivery with $25 minimum)
It was Sunday night and the restaurant was jammed. They were terse and businesslike over the phone, and when I got there I knew why. The one woman at the counter dealt efficiently with the three people in front of me, and my pizza was finished just as I walked up to pay. No phoniness here, just pleasant, efficient service.
Post Corner offers more of a New Haven, thick crust pizza. It almost has a deep dish feel with a thicker, breadier crust, rich with lots of cheese, not a lot of sauce, and yet very flavorful. The pizza was a little greasy, as almost all of them were. It was cooked to perfection, with the melted cheese crisped (not burned) on top.
Matthew: 3 I like it way better than Bertucci’s
Charlotte: 2.5 Sort of an eh
Me: 3.5 One of my favorites
Heights Pizza 203-656-3200
330 Heights Rd, Darien
Small cheese pizza: $8.43
My order was taken over the phone efficiently; we were on our way home, so we stopped by and picked up our fresh pizza. This feels like a real New York pizza place. The pizza is also classic, not especially thick or especially thin.
The first comment the kids had was that the pizza was limp. When you hold up a piece by the crust the rest flops down. But that didn’t bother Matthew.
“This is really good!” he said.
When I asked him about the limpness he said, “But it’s still better.”
I agreed that the sauce had a good melded flavor, with Italian spices. The cheese was thoroughly melted but not as crisped on top as in the Post Corner pizza. By then the kids were fighting over the remains of the pizza.
“I think it’s really good," Charlotte said. "Too sloppy though, and really greasy.”
Although I agreed that the flavor was good, I was wishing the crust would hold up a little better.
Papa Joe’s 203-655-1330
1973 Post Rd, Darien
Medium cheese pizza (same size as others’ small): $9.75 (no delivery)
I called in, placed my order, and we stopped by to pick it up. We were a tad early; our pizza was baked fresh for us. As it was a Tuesday night, it wasn’t especially crowded. The man worked on our pizza in front of us while we waited. It felt like a real family place.
The kids’ first comment was that the pizza was limp like the Heights pizza. But it wasn’t quite as limp, it just got limp towards the center of the pizza; the outside was thick and crispy with bits of broiled cheese. Pretty yummy, in fact. Both Matthew and Charlotte agreed the crust was "amazing."
“Papa Joe’s tastes really good the second day," said Charlotte (We didn’t test this, however, because we gobbled all the small pizzas immediately). "It’s kind of greasy though.”
Matthew: “I like the Heights flavor better.”
Charlotte: “This is flavorful and I like it a lot.”
I said, “It’s a little salty.”
Matthew: 3.5 Almost as good as Heights.
Charlotte: 3.5 Too greasy; I like the Bertucci’s better
54 Boston Post Road, Darien
Small cheese pizza: $10.07 (no delivery, except to businesses during weekdays)
I didn’t know about it, but I happened to stumble on a convenient carry out entrance on the Norwalk side of the restaurant. When I went in a man was being helped by the cashier. Behind the cashier three employees were talking and joking around. I waited while the man was served. As soon as the woman was finished with him, one of the other women who had been ignoring me came over and offered to help. My pizza was ready. She thanked me very very much. Very much!
This reminds me of the new Corporate Phoniness that’s so popular. Bertucci’s is the only pizza restaurant that gave me a really corporate, big business feeling. When you call them on the phone you have to wait through their long friendly corporate hello. I prefer the terseness of the family restaurants.
That said, the Bertucci’s cheese pizza was unique. It had a very thin crispy crust, what I believe you would call a Naples crust. There wasn’t a lot of cheese, so it wasn’t at all greasy, but there was an abundance of very tomato-y tomato sauce.
Charlotte, my sophisticate, preferred the Bertucci’s pizza; it was Matthew’s least favorite.
The order also came with four pizza dough rolls. The kids were enamored with the rolls.
“I love them; they’re so cute,” said Charlotte.
“I like to dig out the inside and then eat the crust,” said Matthew.
I said, “They’re just dough balls."
By the time I got the Bertucci’s pizza home the sauce was a bit cold for me. But, to be fair, the restaurant is the farthest from our house.
Of the four pizzas we tried, I have to say that they were all good. The service was good everywhere. We had not one bad experience. I think we were actually a bit stingy with our rankings (although I have to mention that fresh hot pizza in the restaurant will trump pizza that’s been dragged home any day). I think it’s a matter of what type of pizza you prefer, and whether convenience or taste is most important to you.