Keene: Little Zoe’s Take and Bake Pizza

Little Zoe's Keene NH

The skinny: Little Zoe’s Take and Bake Pizza might be one of the coolest pizza places we’ve been to yet — and it doesn’t even cook the pizzas! This Keene joint – as the name suggests – only creates take-and-bake pizzas.

Pies are sold in two sizes: medium (feeds 1-3, starts at $9.35) and large (feeds 2-4, starts at $11.45). Toppings range from $1.40-$2.10 on medium pizzas and $1.75-$2.65 on the large. And speaking of toppings, Little Zoe’s has, by far, the most amount of toppings we’ve seen to date – a whopping 65 selections! Sure, you can get your standard choices here, but have you ever seen another pizzeria in New Hampshire that offers mandarin oranges, golden raisins, pickled garlic, green beans, chorizo or ground bison?

The interest doesn’t stop at Zoe’s toppings, as there are a number of choices when it comes to both dough and sauce. There are four varieties of dough: original, honey whole wheat, rosemary Parmesan and seasonal. Then there are eight sauces to choose from: red, rustic, Alfredo, pesto, blush, BBQ, extra virgin olive oil and a sweet-n-sour cranberry chipotle sauce.

Little Zoe’s has 25 specialty pizzas on its menu. We had to highlight a few of the standout selections:

– Good Shepherd ($16.55/$20.45): roasted corn and peppers, double helping of ground beef, buttery mashed potatoes, cheese and rustic sauce

– Sargent Schultz ($17.50/$22.05): kielbasa, caraway-infused sauerkraut, sweet onions, Swiss cheese, cheese blend and mustard sauce

– Red Dragon ($18.15/$22.50): pepperoni, spicy capicola ham, hot sausage, hot cherry peppers, garlic, red pepper flakes, cheese and red sauce

Pizzas are sold on paperboard pans made for the oven. Baking directions are provided when picking up your pizza, as well as on the website.

Review: We were pretty overwhelmed by the choices at Little Zoe’s and were interested in parts of so many of the pizzas that we just had to build our own. We opted for a large roasted chicken and baby arugula pizza with the sweet-n-sour sauce on honey whole wheat dough ($15.60).

As we noted above, Little Zoe’s provides you with baking instructions, and the helpful staff also gave us a few extra cooking tips on the way out the door. We treated ourselves to a new pizza stone at Christmastime, so we were excited to try something a little different on it. At the 8-minute mark, we took the pizza off the provided baking tray to finish directly on the stone. We may have been slightly too quick in taking the pizza out of the oven, as we thought the bottom crust could have used another minute. But the timing was perfect for the end crust, which we found to have the perfect crunchy-chewy ratio. We also wish more pizzerias had a wheat crust option, as we think it adds so much more flavor (and we like to pretend we’re eating healthfully when we’re having pizza!).

The first thing Andrew noticed was the sweetness of the sauce, followed by a slight sour kick. Deidre didn’t notice the sauce all that much on most bites and she thought it would stand out more than it did. However, when Deidre took longer pauses between bites, she definitely became more aware of the chipotle kick. Andrew thought the sauce was more like a dressing, which actually ended up pairing well with the arugula.

We had never had arugula on a pizza before – do any other pizzerias offer this? – and Deidre thought it turned out to be an excellent choice for a healthier topping. We’re fans of darker greens, so this has become a great option for our own homemade pizza topping rotation. The roasted chicken paired perfectly with the arugula and the sauce, even picking up some of the sweet and sour flavor of the sauce.

We love when cheese melts well on pizza, and Little Zoe’s cheese melted beautifully in our oven. It was thick, the kind that slides right off the pizza when you take a bite.

By the time Andrew did the cold pizza test, the arugula had lost some of its punch. Kind of like salad that’s been sitting in dressing for a bit too long. That didn’t matter though, because the sauce had some added punch and the chicken was still juicy and tender. The crust was still a great mix of crispy and crunchy.

Rating: Deidre: 4 / Andrew: 4.5 = 8.5 /10 slices

Little Zoe’s Take and Bake Pizza
Colony Mill Marketplace, 149 Emerald St., No. 5, Keene
358-6001, LittleZoes.com

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