My visit to Abbondanza epitomizes many of the reasons why I write this bl0g. After all how many people love New York food enough to drag their wives all the way across town, on one of the rare occasions they get out of the house, to a pizza place? Or perhaps the real question I should be asking is how many wives would actually go!
I found Abbondanza after doing one of my semi-regular searches for New York food establishments. When I read some of the reviews for Abbondanza I was thoroughly excited. Several reviewers claimed this was some of the best New York style pizza in the northwest. When we arrived at the restaurant there was a crowd standing outside the door which is always a good sign. However we quickly discovered we had landed at Abbondanza on a night where the restaurant was having what appeared to be a private event. That said the host was very kind and had us wait at the Starbucks next door. He regularly came in to tell people their table was ready which by all accounts is pretty great customer service.
Once we were finally seated I was again excited, this time by the sight of the menu. Along with a list of various pizzas were some classic sandwiches and a few desserts I was eager to try, specifically the Cannoli. We ordered two pizzas, a Margherita and a “Alla Salsiccia”. When the pizzas arrived they both looked terrific. The Margherita pizza was really just a plain cheese pizza. Beyond not using fresh mozzarella the pizza was supposed to come with basil but there was none on our pizza. Perhaps they were out of basil due to the large crowd. Regardless it was a small enough oversight that I was willing to look past it. The “Alla Salsiccia” pizza was loaded with toppings which was nice to see.
Unfortunately the flavor of the pizza did not live up to the hype I had conjured up in my head. The crust on the pizzas was actually pretty good. The crust was chewy and had a decent char on the bottom. However the sauce and cheese on the Margherita pizza were fairly bland and both lacked any real depth of flavor. Also there was way too much cheese on this pizza for me. As I indicated above the “Alla Salsiccia” pizza was loaded with toppings which was good on one hand, but on the other it had a tremendous amount of grease which made the dough soggy. Overall I can see why people think this is New York pizza. The thinness and texture of the dough certainly put it in the ballpark of New York pizza, but they certainly didn’t hit it out of the park.
After our pizza I ordered a Cannoli, perhaps one of my favorite Italian pastries that are common in New York. To be completely honest the Cannoli looked great but it was not very good. The filling was ok but it had more of a cottage cheese texture instead of the creamy texture of most ricotta creams I grew up with. The worst part of the Cannoli was that they committed a faux pas by pre-filling the Cannoli which made the Cannoli shell little more then a soggy mush. If you are looking for a Cannoli I certainly wouldn’t send you here. Perhaps had I gone earlier in the evening or a day when they first make them it would have been better.
For those that don’t already know Abbondanza means abundance in Italian. What I will say about this restaurant, is that there is an abundance of customer service and an abundance of effort put into making their pizzas. Perhaps had we visited on a less crowded evening the quality would be even better. I really wanted to love Abbondanza, but in this New Yorker’s mind they fell a little short of New York pizza and Cannoli gold.