January 7, 2010

Coalhouse Pizza

Flying their unmistakable neon banner over Bull’s Head, Coalhouse Pizza is one of the newest pizza establishments in Stamford and the subject of many, many requests; some glowing recommendations, some just out of curiosity.

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The Pizza Tour returned to Stamford with a vengeance on our excursion to Coalhouse, toting along an absurd number of guest judges including fellow Stamford bloggers, JR of Streets of Stamford and Kate of Stamford Notes, as well as about six other disciples of the Tour clawing themselves back onto the bandwagon.

Coalhouse establishment - Reaves is a real attention whore Establishment. Coalhouse Pizza sports a snazzy blues- and jazz-inspired feel that, once you get over how wildly out of place it is in Stamford, is rather unique and charming, albeit approaching obnoxious levels of trendiness. Prints of blues and jazz icons dot the walls and cover the tables while their sounds flood the warmly lit restaurant for some top-notch ambiance. Unfortunately for us (and fortunately for them) the place was absolutely jam-packed, so we had to wait outside in the Arctic tundra and take what we could get table-wise (which is mostly our fault for not realizing that the triumphant return of the Stamford Pizza Tour would draw such a crowd of guest judges). That said, Coalhouse is set up well enough for moderately large crowds and was very accommodating to our stupidly large party, equipped with a couple outdoor propane heaters and serving us rather quickly once we got inside. The menu at Coalhouse includes hearty salads, a limited selection of pasta dishes and sandwiches, and a conversely extensive selection of ribs and chicken wings in addition to a very wide spectrum of specialty pizza offerings and high-quality, gourmet topping options.

Pizza. Once we got settled, we ordered a large Blue Skies (marinara, mozzarella, basil, olive oil—a margarita pie) and a large Freight Train (margarita + crumbled sweet Italian sausage, onions, and mixed peppers).

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As expected, the pies were extremely thin and unfortunately, considerably smaller than their 16" billing would lead us to believe. The crust had a distinct yeasty flavor, a surprisingly slight char, and very little bite relative to the coal-fired pies we’ve sampled in New Haven. The sauce was in rather short supply on such a delicate pizza, but had the natural tang and sweetness of crushed tomatoes and was very well-seasoned. As for the cheese: what cheese? While Coalhouse prides itself on their use of “preservative-free, fior di latte mozzarella” (cow mozzarella for us laymen), and while it tasted very fresh and delicious, there wasn’t nearly enough of it on any of our pies to make a difference. The biggest knock we could find on this pie (and it’s pretty big) was the texture. This pizza was pretty floppy and insubstantial, especially for a coal-fired pie, lacking the characteristic crispness and char that we’ve come to expect from such pizzas.

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As such, this pizza absolutely needs toppings, but boy do they deliver with some top-shelf ingredients. We were very happy with our sausage, pepper, and onion number featuring delicious, bright, and fresh flavors that set this pie (and to an extent, this restaurant) apart from other, less ingredient-conscious ones.

The bottom line. Coalhouse Pizza, the trendy new kid in town, clearly has the best of intentions with its use of quality ingredients and close attention to detail, but has yet to work out all of the kinks and live up to its neon-soaked hype.

Establishment: 22/30
Pizza: 19/30
Hits the Spot: 5.4/10
Large Cheese: $12.75

Coalhouse Pizza on Urbanspoon

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