Barberini at Grampa’s Pizzeria

Hi Everyone,  welcome back!    It has been nearly a month since our first pizza review from Glass Nickel Pizza.  Annette and I have both been really busy with life:  Annette finishing up her Master’s program and myself dealing with finding a job and whatnot.

If you’ve made it this far, clearly you think our thoughts on Madison’s pizzerias interesting enough to warrant reading our blog (or let’s be honest – there was nothing else good in your facebook newsfeed).  As I mentioned, it has been about a month since our first review and Annette and I have decided that our goal is going to be one pizza review a month.  (Not that we don’t love pizza enough to eat it everyday [because that would awesome] but Madison has so many great restaurants we want to make sure we get to eat at as many as possible.

That finally brings me to talking about Grampa’s Pizzeria.  Grampa’s Pizzeria is a quaint little restaurant located on Williamson Street in Downtown Madison.  Like many restaurants on Willy Street, Grampa’s is located in an old house which adds to the charm of the restaurant.  Furthering this homey atmosphere is a garden in the backyard where they grow fresh herbs.  We first learned about Grampa’s on one of our trips to Glass Nickel, and knowing the reputation of restuarants on Williamson Street (very good restaurants with affordable food) we did some quick googling and found that Grampa’s comes with a 4.8/5 star recommendation.  After seeing the praise heaped on this same local pizzeria we knew we had to make it one of our first stops on our quest to find Madison’s best pizza.

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You made it this far, it’s finally time to review some pizza.

Unlike our trip to Glass Nickel, we came to Grampa’s without a pizza in mind.  Luckily the menu was one page of food , with only 8 pre-made pizza selections to chose from.  But having only a few choices did nothing to impact the food amazingness that we were about to experience.

IMG_2078We were very hungry when we got to Grampa’s and we decided to get a starter plate.  We ordered a Mozzarella plate, which consisted of fresh, house-made mozzarella, balsamic, olive oil, basil, and vanilla fleur de sel (vanilla salt).  I know the whole point of this blog is to describe food, but this Mozzarella plate was truly indescribable.  The cheese was so soft and flavorful and had a fresh taste.  All I can say about the Mozzarella is that YOU NEED TO ORDER THIS!!!  I can’t stress highly enough how amazing the Mozzarella plate was.

For our pizza we ordered the Barberini, which consisted of: Ricotta, garlic, calabrian chiles, tomato sauce, arugula, and honey.  I think that just based on the description you can surmise that this pizza was entirely different than any other type of pizza either of us has ever had (I mean, who puts honey on pizza???).

Presentation

When the pizza arrived at our table, we were struck by the scenic beauty that was our pizza.  With the watercress providing the top layer, all the other ingredients sort of fell into place on the pizza creating a visual delight that was as appetizing to our eyes as to our stomachs.  As we started to grab pieces to enjoy we witnessed the steam rising the from the pizza and it only increased our anticipation about what awaited our taste buds.  Finally, smell, even with the pizza in the center of the table we could smell the heat from the chiles (which I know had to make Annette a little anxious to try this pizza, since spicy foods are not high on her list of favorites [even though this was her pizza selection so…]). Between gazing at the toppings, watching the steam, and enjoying the spicy scent of the chiles, this pizza nearly as much fun to look at as it was to eat.

🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕/5 on Presentation (5/5 on Presentation)

In Annette’s words, “Oh Hell yea Grampa’s is getting 5 slices.”

Sauce

Our pizza contained a thin tomato sauce that contained that faintest amount of spice (although that could have been the chiles, cuz honestly when eating spicy chiles, who can tell where the spice is coming from).  Whether or not the sauce had alot (yea, I write it as one word, thats how I learned to do it) of spice, it certainly worked well on the dish.  Annette commented how the sauce really worked together nicely with the honey to provide a foundational flavor for the pizza.

🍕🍕🍕🍕.5/5 on Sauce (4.5/5 on Sauce)

Crust

Pizza crust can make or break a pizza, particularly thin crust pizza.  If overdone it can become so brittle and tastless if reminds me of cardboard.  On the other side of the equation, if the crust is undercooked it contains no ability to hold together and everything falls apart rather quickly.  I’m happy to say this thin crust was just about perfect – it was crunchy, but not burnt.  There was a faint taste of olive oil with the crust and gave it a tremendous taste.  While I’m not normally a fan of thin crust pizza, with the type of pizza we were eating, thin crust was the only crust choice that would go well.  (To be clear – we did not have an option for a thicker crust, all pizzas at Grampa’s are thin crust pizza).

Cheese

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Thank you Homer, for summing up my feelings.  Our pizza was loaded with a house-made ricotta!  This ricotta was smooth, creamy, and just melted in our mouths.  Just like our mozzerella appetizer, there is no way to convey the experience that was this ricotta cheese.  Our feelings can best be summed up in one word, DELICIOUS.

(You are probably thinking by this point – c’mon Craig, that’s twice you’ve told us the cheese is amazing without really providing much information about it.  And if you are, then I say “Your mission, if you choose to accept it, go to Grampa’s, eat the cheese, try and describe it better than me.  This  challenge will now end.”)

🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕/5 on Cheese (5/5 on Cheese)

Taste

Finally we are almost done with this thing….   So the pizza had a really nice contrast between sweet and spicy.  One bite would be loaded with chilis and set your mouth on fire, while the next bite would be loaded with honey and watercress and help cool you down.  As Annette commented, “the honey balances out the chili really well.”  It is safe to say that neither of us has ever eaten a pizza with flavors like this before.  It was truly a unique flavor experience and one I would not want to attempt to recreate on my own (I’ll save this interesting ingredients combinations to the professionals).

For crafting such a well-balanced and unique flavor profile we award this pizza:

🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕/5 on Taste (5/5 on Taste).

Overall:

All in all, Grampa’s Pizzeria was alot of fun.  Great atmosphere combined with amazing food made for a totally exciting food experience.  I know I speak for Annette when I say we can’t wait to return and try another one of these fabulous pizzas.

Thanks for reading our review of Grampa’s Pizzeria.  Hope you enjoyed reading about it as much as we enjoyed eating it! (Seriously, we didn’t take anything home… it’s just that good).

Join us next time as we review Roman Candle, another local venue with locations scattered around the Madison area (and we will be going to the one on Williamson Street).

Till next time,

Craig and Annette

P.S. As always, if you have suggestions for pizza places, please share them.  We are always looking to expand our list.

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