Restaurant Review: Borgata Pizza Cafe
People have a thing about New York traditional pizza. According to aficionados, the crust has to be thin, at least under the toppings. In the range of tomato sauce options, the levels have to be modest enough to keep the pizza tidy, and the slices have to be foldable.
Those descriptors could apply to lots of pizzas, but there are arguments… ardent, violent arguments.
So, when the people of the internet agree en masse the Borgata Pizza Cafe has the best, most authentic New York style pizza in town, it’s attention-getting.
The place is off 161. From the outside, it looks like a hole in the wall, but the interior is chic. A shiny bar and faux-marbled tables make it even a little glitzy-looking. Plus, there’s an open kitchen; representing equal parts classic pizza-shop and fine-dining trend.
The menu options are manageable: there’s pizza, and a few other items that indicate that Borgata takes food seriously: house-made pasta and sausage dishes. Borgata puts some time and effort into its offerings.
So let’s start outside the land of pizza, shall we? It can be the grand finale in this discussion.
From the starter section, try the Garlic Bread with Cheese ($5.25). It’s the real deal: the bread slices provide a crusty and porous landscape for splotches of melted cheese, butter and herbs. An order yields a pizza pan piled high with heaps of eats and a dipping bowl of marinara. It’s enough to share with the whole table — which is good, because it will take some time for the rest of the order to come out.
There’s also Sausage Stuffed Peppers ($8.50). They are as as delicious as they are incredibly heavy. An order yields two burning hot cubanelle peppers stuffed with a solid core of sausage. It’s all covered in a pulpy tomato sauce with loads of cheese (and then some more bread for dipping). The combination of hot n’ heavy made these peppers curiously difficult for even a big eater to finish.
Also large, insanely large, is the Chicken Parmegiana Dinner ($14.95). It’s easily a dinner for two, although the menu doesn’t discourage ambitious appetites by mentioning that fact. If you’re accustomed to being a finisher, even with a Thurman Burger, you’ve just met your match.
A pizza pan arrives with half the order. It’s covered with chicken breasts, pounded thin, breaded and fried with a crackling crust. That’s all smothered in glorious ladles of tomato sauce and melted cheese. Then, there’s also a deep-set pasta plate with soft, plump nuggets of gnocchi (there are other pasta choices) covered in rich pesto. It’s homespun, deliciously heavy, and bargain priced as it’s two meals in one.
For pizza fans, all the aforementioned information is probably just distraction. There is pizza. We gave two versions a whirl. One was the house White Pizza (three homogeneously mixed cheeses: mozzarella, feta and ricotta, $12.50), the other was a classic Pepperoni Pizza ($10.50 – pictured at the top of the review).
Looking at the New York foldability factor first: everything in this world is foldable. Heck, you could fold a phone book if you tried hard enough (and could find one somewhere). By that standard, the pizza is foldable. That said, It’s hard to find a compelling culinary reason for doing so. Folding shields the palate from the flavorful toppings. Although, on the other hand, it also protects the roof of the mouth from horrific injury that is sometime caused by resiliently hot cheese.
Sauce levels seems reasonable, crust is thin in the middle, poofy at the edges. It looks and tastes like pizza. It doesn’t feel life-changing, but it’s good.
All the same, we’d make the drive for the chicken parmesan and hot peppers again and again. And Borgata’s social media photos suggest that Santa appears there occasionally: double win. You can find it at 5701 Parkville Street.
For more information, visit www.borgatapizzacafe.com.
Photos by Walker Evans. Photos are taken at a different time than review, so discrepancies between photos and review may occur.