The skinny: We finally made it out to our most recommended pizzeria.
Among those who have suggested La Festa? Our friend Emily, @bschwartz, @sergeant_duckie, @isnotsparta, @walterelly, @JayVallee, @KatieLeighMack, @stefaniep47, @frenis, @RienMais, @SlytherinGirl83, @JulieDiane1, @FPMarowitz, @CherryDonald plus a few others who recommended it through NH.com.
We liked what we saw when we walked in, because we could tell there were lots of pizza options. First, the slice selection is great. During the time we were there on a recent Saturday at lunchtime, people were lining up for all the slices.
At La Festa, you can go with wood-fired brick oven pizzas or New York style pies.
The wood-fired pizzas start at $6.95. There are 15 specialty pizzas to choose from, too. There’s the Chicken Cordon Bleu ($8.75), with mozzarella, chicken, ham, mushrooms, gorgonzola, mozzarella and tomato sauce; the Picante ($8.25), with jalapeno peppers, black olives, beef, mozzarella and tomato sauce; and the Primavera ($8.50), with eggplant, red peppers, mushrooms, mozzarella and tomato sauce.
Then there’s the New York style. You can get this in a 14-inch small (starting at $10.95), 16-inch large ($11.95) or Sicilian style (starting at $12.95). There are 15 specialties over here, too, such as Jambalaya ($16.99/$17.99/$18.45), with shrimp, sausage, red onions, jalapenos, cayenne pepper, tomato sauce and mozzarella; Veggie ($14.95/$15.95/$17.45), with mushrooms, tomato, green pepper, onion, black olives, spinach, garlic, mozzarella and tomato sauce; and the extremely popular Garlic Knot Pizza ($14.99/$15.99/no Sicilian), which has garlic knots braided into the crust, and the pizza is topped with tomato, basil, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan.
There are lots of toppings available to build your own pie, such as meatball, broccoli, ricotta, artichokes, capers and more.
Calzones are also available, starting at $6.95.
Review: We decided to each go with a wood-fired brick oven pizza, since they were pretty inexpensive. A note: While the menu says these pies are 12 inches, we’re quite sure they’re larger than that!
Deidre ordered the Shrimp Scampi Brick ($8.25) and Andrew ordered the Philly Cheese Steak Brick ($8.75).
Deidre’s choice was described as the Original Brick (mozzarella, tomato sauce, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil) with shrimp, garlic and basil.
The shrimp smell was unavoidable — but in a good way. She was slightly disappointed by the shrimp. It tasted fine (she loves shrimp!), but it was a little on the small side and there wasn’t that much of it. Too many bites of her slices didn’t contain the shrimp; she thinks if the shrimp were cut up and spread around the pie, it would have been a quick fix.
It was also slightly lacking in basil and garlic. Each slice had a fresh basil leaf placed on after cooking — which she thought was really cute — and the small garlic pieces were few and far between.
Despite the small amount of toppings, Deidre still was greatly enjoying her pizza.
She loved the crust. The end crust was soft to the touch, and its light color was deceiving, since it definitely packed a big crisp crunch. The bottom crust was one of the thinnest we’ve seen; it probably required a fork and knife, but we kept it classy by picking up our slices, and with each bite, more toppings fell onto our plates.
Just like the bottom crust, the sauce was seriously thin. There wasn’t much of it, which worked out OK on Deidre’s slices. This sauce is more on the sweet side.
Deidre found it a little hard to form an opinion on the cheese, since it blended with all of the other toppings. The proportion of it with the sauce was good, and it was a little on the greasy side, probably due to the olive oil, which flowed over on to the end crust.
Andrew’s pizza combined Philly beef (though he wasn’t exactly clear on what made it Philly beef), American and mozzarella cheeses, green peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomato sauce.
The toppings were spread out pretty evenly in equal amounts. Andrew was a bit underwhelmed by the amount of steak, which played just a complementary role here — nothing close to the amount heaped on a Philly cheese steak sub. But he’s had pizzas that are loaded with steak, and those just lead to a bellyache, so he understood the sparing amount.
And all the toppings played well together, mixing all the flavors together like a good Philly steak. The onions and peppers were great and added a nice crunch to each bite. The mushroom was a bit anonymous among the more potent flavors, especially the sweet sauce, which was poured on top of everything. Pouring the sauce on that way is a bit unorthodox, but made it much more like one of Andrew’s Philadelphia favorites: the pizza steak.
The cheese wasn’t very heavy, but it was enough to add a bit of creaminess to the savory steak and sweet sauce.
Andrew agreed with Deidre on the crust, which was pretty much the same on both pizzas. The thin base and doughy, yet crunchy edges made it one of the best crusts he’s had.
Since the pizzas were so unexpectedly large, we had almost a whole pizza to bring home. The crust had hardened up a bit after some time in the fridge, but it wasn’t stale, more like a cracker. The toppings on the Philly pizza remained flavorful, and the veggies still packed a nice crunch. As for the shrimp pizza, some time in the fridge gave it the feel of a shrimp cocktail, which Andrew enjoyed quite a bit.
Rating: Deidre: 4.5 / Andrew: 5= 9.5/10 slices
La Festa Brick & Brew Pizzeria
300 Central Ave., Dover