Thanks for the comments on yesterday’s post.  Of course my blog friends would encourage my fro-yo for dinner habit. ;)

I consider myself to be a connoisseur of pizza.  As a vegetarian in a mostly meat-loving town, a flatbread or pizza is one of the choices I can easily customize to fit my lacto-ovo lifestyle when dining out with my parents.  I make homemade pizza a few times a month, and hardly ever get tired of it.

My parents and I were dining out last week (on a night my husband worked late) and went to Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, a new chain bar/restaurant in busy Robinson township.  My parents had been there once before, but it was my first visit.  The place was small and very crowded for a Thursday night at 5pm.  The parking, in general, is a major headache.

The first thing that struck me as odd was the Diet Coke I ordered – it came in a bottle.  Their website explains how coal is a “green” energy source, so why do they serve softdrinks in plastic bottles?  It also seems like a popular bar scene, so I wonder where they get mixers for their cocktails.

Anyway.

We started with both a tomato mozzerella and house salad.  I was happy with the caprese – it included roasted green and red pepper strips, too.  A little heavy on the oil for my taste.

Going with the “heavy on the oil” theme, the rediculously overpriced house salad ($9.50, “for two”) was covered in it.  Not a flavorful olive oil, but a plain, bland, canola-oil based “dressing”.  The only other component I could identify was a lot of pepper.  I did like the chickpeas.

Another strange observation – the industructible plastic plates reminded me of Steak ‘n Shake or Chuckie Cheese.

My dad is a “bread and butter” kinda guy, especially at an Italian restaurant, but the waiter said the only thing close to bread was foccaccia, which they serve with their wings.  It was just pizza dough with some Italian seasoning (again, tasteless).

Since I’m super picky and there were only 3 of us, we decided to get one large pizza & split the toppings half and half.  Because a traditional pie would have been over $25 with all the toppings I’d add, we went with two Specialty varieties.

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Although the cauliflower pie sounded the most interesting, it isn’t able to be split with another kind of pizza.  My second choice was the Eggplant Marino – which, according to the menu, didn’t sound like deep-fried eggplant.  But it was, and it’s my fault for not asking.  My dad ordered the Paul & Young Ron (meatballs, sausage, ricotta, hot peppers) and added pepperoni as well.

The presentation was nice.

Can you see the eggplant?  Me either.  It’s sliced paper thin, breaded, fried, then covered in sauce and sprinkled with cheese.  As you can see, the edges are burnt – which is part of their “Pizza Well Done” slogan and the signature of the coal-fired cooking process.

Flavor-wise, the pizza was good.  Worth $20?  Absolutely not.  I was hoping for a pizza like the one we split in Rome – now that was eggplant pizza.

The alcohol was also overpriced, and inconsistent.  My dad ordered one drink at the bar and was charged $11.50, but ordering a drink at the table was $7.50.  When he asked the manager the reason for the difference (both were purchased during 5-7 “happy hour”), the manager explained that the bartender made a mistake on the first charge, but since we paid in cash, couldn’t do anything about it. 

Overall, I wouldn’t bother going back to Anthony’s.  There are lots of local pizzerias that I like much better for a reasonable price.  I’d even prefer Papa John’s.  Best option?  Buying Trader Joe’s dough for less than $2, and making carmelized onion and pear, homemade roasted tomato and pesto, mushroom and spinach, or hummus, red pepper, artichoke, and feta.

Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza on Urbanspoon

Have you been to Anthony’s?  I think the chain originated in Florida.

Do you prefer homemade, independent, or chain-restaurant pizza?

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