Located amidst ritzy trinket shops and shoe stores in the heart of New Canaan, Pinocchio Pizza bills itself as “the crown jewel of the five pizza restaurants owned by the DiFabio brothers,” and has been featured prominently on B-level syndicated daytime television for its employees’ pizza chucking “skills.” While we’re sure they can stretch dough with the best of them, we’re here to judge whether or not they can cook it.
Establishment. Pinocchio Pizza is a quaint, welcoming dine-in establishment in the otherwise cold, black heart of New Canaan. Offering take-out and delivery options in addition to its small but comfortable dining room, Pinocchio is about as traditional a pizzeria as you’ll find in these parts with its quick, smart-assed table service, relatively family friendly atmosphere, and respectable assortment of by-the-slice offerings. The menu consists primarily of Italian fare, soups, salads, overpriced (in New Canaan they just call this “priced”) pasta dishes and Italian dinners as well as traditional and gourmet variations of pizza. Additionally, the menu gushes about Pinocchio being featured on TV, its chefs being members of the World Pizza Champions (America’s premier pizza team, of course) and its pizzas winning countless awards at the 2008 North American Pizza (and Ice Cream) Show in Columbus, OH (where they know plenty about pizza, we’re sure…)
Pizza. Pinocchio is known for one thing: lying. If Pinocchio himself (the good one, not the awful Roberto Benigni one) told you that this was a good pizza, or anything resembling a good pizza, he’d end up looking like this:
This pizza was as ill-conceived as casting your 50-year-old self to play a school-aged puppet/real boy. Pinocchio’s pie features a puffy, chewy, breadlike crust that’s difficult to chew and near impossible to taste. The cheese, billed as being from the mid-western king of cheeses, Grande, was pretty good aside from it being a bit salty and there being twice as much of it as there needed to be. The sauce was by far the strongest element of this pie (which isn’t saying much, we know), with a clean taste of fresh, tangy tomatoes and traditional Italian flavors. The problem here, is that the pizza was dominated so violently by the bland, spongy crust, the excess cheese, and an overall heavy, cumbersome texture, that the sauce was almost a non-factor. Hot out of the oven, this pizza was so incoherent and sloppy that we were all eating with forks. Further, our topping of choice, sausage, added a completely unnecessary saltiness and the stale taste of mop water to this horrible pie, doing nothing to complement the other “flavors” present. Sure, the guys at Pinocchio Pizza might be very well-versed in their “pizza skills,” but if they are, cooking a good pie is certainly not in their repertoire.
The bottom line. Beware the smoke and mirrors, Pinocchio’s victory in the North American Pizza (and Ice Cream) Show is not at all reflective of how terrible this bready mess of a pie is; maybe they won “Most Improvement Needed.”