Manchester: Alley Cat Pizzeria

The skinny: Alley Cat is known for its pizza. Newcomers to the area are told about it, and those who’ve been in the Queen City for a while will wholeheartedly recommend it. When discussing pizza in the city, you wouldn’t be able to have a conversation without Alley Cat’s name being mentioned.

Alley Cat Pizzeria Manchester NH pepperoni pizzaIn fact, when asked about favorite pizza places in New Hampshire, a number of Twitter fans quickly mentioned the downtown staple — such as @ShoGrrl2, @Danhannon, @nhshoestring and @rexnebula.

Alley Cat has some of the requisite pizza joint fare — salads, subs and calzones — but pizza makes up the bulk of the menu. You can keep things simple, starting with a plain cheese ($6.55 for a 12″ small, $8.99 for a 16″ large and $10.99 for the 20″ XX large — OK, the extra X is a bit gratuitous, but really, this is a huge pizza). Each topping is an additional $1 on the small, $1.50 on the medium and $1.80 on the XX large.

There’s also a wide array of specialty pizzas with cutesy cat names. Their Mexican pizza — El Gato — heaps on hamburg, corn chips, onions, green peppers, black olives, tomatoes and hots ($12.10 for a small, $16.19 for the medium and $20.24 for the XX large). Other specialty pies include the meaty Attack Cat, which features pepperoni, sausage, hamburger, ham and bacon ($12.10, $16.19 and $20.24), and the Black Cat, which piles on Cajun chicken and red onions ($9.30, $12.99, $15.74).You can customize the specialty pizzas, too, adding toppings for the same rate as the regular pizzas.

If you’re looking for dessert pizza, you won’t be disappointed: You can order the S’mores Pizza for $6.75, which is pizza dough with a sugar-filled crust, melted chocolate, marshmallows and graham crackers.

Review: We weren’t in the mood for something heavy (the warmer weather is doing that to us), so we stuck with the classic large pepperoni pie ($10.49).

Alley Cat serves a thin pizza. The crust is soft, and when you are eating slices from some of its larger pies, two hands are a must. The end crust is pretty thin, as well, as if it is saying that it would prefer that its toppings should be the star of the show. But the soft, floppy crust is what makes this pizza a favorite for Manchester — it’s so light and not as filling as some others can be.

The sauce is also really noticeable here — mainly because you can actually see tomato here. It’s not a chunky sauce at all, but it is refreshing to see the sauce’s main ingredient visible on the pizza. Alley Cat has a pretty sweet sauce, but for whatever reason, it’s addicting. In fact, Deidre wouldn’t mind a little more sauce on her pizzas here.

Be careful when moving a slice from the pizza to your plate, as you’re bound to lose plenty of mozzarella on the way. The perfectly melted cheese matches perfectly with the pizza’s other ingredients.

We topped our pie with pepperoni, which we did find made our pizza a bit greasier than some other ‘roni pizzas we’ve had. There was quite a bit of the meat on the pie, which may have had something to do with it. As big fans of Alley Cat over the years, we have tended to be Alley Cat purists, sticking with the beautiful, plain old cheese pizza — though we have had success with some of the specialty pies, as well.

Andrew thought the grease from the pepperoni dampened the cold pizza experience. Another bummer was that the crust dried out pretty quickly, though that’s usually to be expected with thin crust. All that said, the sauce was still a highlight and Andrew delighted in the sweetness and occasional chucks of tomato.

Rating: Deidre: 5 / Andrew: 4 = 9/10 slices

Alley Cat Pizzeria
486 Chestnut St., Manchester
669-4533, www.alleycatpizzerianh.com

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