Being away from New York City, can make eating anywhere else, tough. You know there’s good food out there; you also know that it’s some 900 miles up the road. Needless to say you can’t rush up the road 14 hours every time you want some Lo Mein, meatloaf, or chicken with lemon butter…right? Of course not (although it is a little maddening the number of places in Mt Pleasant called “New York” – i.e. New York Deli, New York Butcher, etc…who are not indeed at all affiliated with New York; I’ve checked). One of the things we’ve been yearning for since being out of the Big Apple is some decent pizza. You’d figure something so elemental, something so necessary, something which everyone has a flair for; you’d figure somewhere along the road through these 50 states, the wife and I would have found some pizza commensurable with the likes of a Frangelico’s (1) or even a Famous Rays. A big “negative,” on that search. Still, we trudge onward. Today’s pizza is Andolini’s Pizza (2) in Mt Pleasant South Carolina. Andolini’s Pizza is a small chain with five locations in and around the greater Charleston area. While I have been to Andolini’s Pizza in downtown Charleston in 2009, the experience in Mt Pleasant was totally different in both food and atmosphere. There are a few defining characteristics to Andolini’s in Mt. Pleasant which make it noteworthy, though in the final analysis there are some concerns.
Andolini’s Pizza: Atmosphere: (1) http://bestpizzaupperwestside.com/
(2) http://www.andolinis.com/There is something to be said for ‘atmosphere’ in a restaurant setting. Atmosphere sets the tone for the whole meal and can either make or break your experience. I claim to be no expert on this though I do have an innate sense of a place. You don’t need to be a sensory expert to witness that the Andolini’s Pizzeria in Mt. Pleasant once was something else. This place is industrial, looks almost moved-into-as-is and definitely is a space; though not really a space that I’d think I’d want ingredients for food I was going to eat, living in. At the same time I was drawn in by this highly-stylized filth; it was repugnant and alluring at once. High above our head, the ceiling was lined with 8 Tracks; the deep-basin sink in the common area reminded me of my former years as a server. Plus or minus, the Andolini’s atmosphere certainly set the tone for the meal.
Andolini’s Pizza: Service: The quality of the service was forgettable enough. They were brisk without being rude; food was served promptly and was even delivered to the table; though service did take place on an aluminum tray which was suspect in the least.
Andolini’s Pizza: Pizza: In the end, atmosphere, service, how the ingredients were kept, what the food was served on; all that means little in the end when you’re deciding on an up or down verdict for the food. I’d offer that the crust was ‘okay’ – a little doughy. Though to be fair we did come at an off hour in the day. This may explain the sauce which was a little dried out and the crust. But, at the same time, this is Andolini’s Pizza in Mt Pleasant! Voted “Best New York Style Pizza for 19 years running!” so surely they must be able to produce quality pizza every time of day like a New York City pizzeria, right?
Andolini’s Pizza: Final Analysis: When I read that fact about Andolini’s being voted the best New York Style Pizza for some years now, it made me take pause. Is this what we’ve sunken to? Some vague association of layout or design which evokes an image in some foreigner’s mind of what they think a New York City pizzeria is? That’s what it seems to be at Andolini’s Pizza in Mt. Pleasant. Though I’ll have to give another of their locations a shot during a more brisk hour of the day (we did just get slices; we’ll have to order a full pie) but for my bottom dollar the Andolini’s Pizza in Mt. Pleasant is really little better than par for the course.