A few weeks ago, I posted “Our Search for the Perfect Pizza” and received a lot of feedback here and on Twitter about where to get the best pizza in Fort Wayne. I was bombarded with recommendations for 800 Degrees. This weekend, Jon and I had an opportunity to go with our friends Will and Mary.
A caveat: we usually steer clear of restaurants located in strip malls- there’s just something “off” about them in most cases (Taj Mahal being the only true exception we’ve found), so I was less than impressed when we pulled up.
Once inside, I was surprised by how extremely casual the ambiance is. Okay, yes, it is a pizza place, so I am not sure what I expected, but we were coming from a wedding and I felt out of place. We were greeted immediately by a kind gentleman, who I assumed was the owner. He explained the ordering process to us, which I found unnecessarily complex- choose a seat, review the menu, order at the counter when you are ready and then the food is brought out to you. Okay, so perhaps it’s not that complex, but it just seemed like a lot of unneeded steps. I like to relax when I dine out. I don’t want to have to keep getting up every time I need a drink refill.
The menu was pretty extensive. All 3 salads looked great and we had a difficult time deciding which pizza to order. We finally decided on the Mista salad: baby greens, toasted pine nuts, tomato, carrots, cucumber, red onions, shaved fennel, rice wine vinaigrette, parmesan cheese- and the signature 800 Degree pizza: tomato sauce, mozzarella, ricotta, house-made hot sausage, fire roasted peppers, Italian parsley, and chili oil. Both were moderately priced. Mary and Will ordered the Bruschetta and the Salsiccia Pizza: tomato sauce, mozzarella, house made italian sausage, garlic, rosemary, and olive oil. All pizzas are 11 inches and serve approximately 2 people. If you’d like to see the entire menu, click HERE.
Our food was prepared quickly and we soon found ourselves out of room at our 4-top table, making things a bit awkward. I was less than impressed with the Bruschetta, which was made with pizza crusts piled high with all of the toppings. It looked like a mess- so much so that I couldn’t bring myself to try it, though Mary and Will insisted that it was good. Our Mista salad was lovely. It offered the perfect combination of fixings (I love pine nuts and fennel), lightly drizzled with an oil & vinegar based dressing.
When the pizza arrived, both looked delicious. The crust was thinner than I anticipated, which actually earns it some points- the thinner the crust the better. Unfortunately, it was not crispy nor crunchy, but rather a bit soggy, making it impossible to pick up and eat. The flavors of our pizza were intense, though teetered on the spicy side for me. I kept having to eat bites of my salad after each bite of pizza.
Overall, the pizza and the entire experience gets an “okay” rating from us. And while I appreciate locally owned restaurants and want to support them, unfortunately, that’s probably not enough to draw us that far north again. I think we will stick with the pizza places closer to our neighborhood.
14 thoughts on “Our Search for the Perfect Pizza- Take 2”
Thanks for the review! I really like 800 Degrees’ gluten free pizza — unfortunately (and this is going to sound pathetic), I find so many nasty GF pizzas, there’s only a few places where they’re tolerable. 800 Degrees has one that I might even eat were I able to eat any gluten-ful pizza, too.
Of course, being a middle-class Fort Wayne native, I have never apparently been exposed to incredible, mouth-watering perfect pizza, or so says friends of mine from upstate New York. Growing up, my family was definitely a Papa John’s family. What, to you, is the perfect pizza? Do you have an out-of-town benchmark in mind? Or is it as of yet unrealized? You said Clara’s crust was perfect (Ahh, I miss Pizza King), but what about the sauce, cheese, and toppings?
I’m just interested, as when when I get hungry, I like to sit around and look at pizza porn on the internet and torture myself. (-:
Perhaps I should have tried the gluten free kind 🙂 Must you always eat gluten free? I think that is an issue I am glad that I don’t have! I will gladly live with my allergy to the sun, grass, trees, cats, etc, but to be limited by what I can eat, torture.
Oddly enough, Jon and I were discussing our favorite pizza in town- though none have reached perfect status- and Granite City’s flatbread pizzas rank the highest. Not only is the crust super crispy, but the topping varieties are awesome. We especially love the maple smoked bacon and tomato pizza. (See blog post a few earlier). Yummy!
When we are back home in Chicago, we like Uno’s, which is nothing like the imitation Uno’s we had here for awhile. I am talking the original Uno’s downtown. And in that case, I make an exception and go with deep dish. It’s about as close to perfect as it gets.
Yessir, I’m afraid it’s gluten-free all the time. Not only does it give me some kra-azy intestinal distress if I do eat it (which I won’t go into, since this isn’t that kind of blog), but apparently I can further damage my small intestines and develop full-on Celiac’s disease, which would restrict my diet even further with even more Dire Consequences. Celiacs can’t even eat food that has been cooked in the same facilities as gluten. Oye.
Interesting about Uno’s! I do remember the chain Uno’s we had here for a few minutes. While I don’t remember a lot about their pizza, I remember it was deep dish and had lots of pepperoni. Are they related to the original Uno’s downtown Chicago? Or an actual imitation?
They were related, but they changed many things about the product when they went “chain.” It just wasn’t the same. If you are ever downtown Chicago, stop by the original Uno’s… sigh, they might not have gluten free pizza though- that condition sounds awful BTW. That means no beer too, right?
Oops- just realized I didn’t answer your question about Clara’s toppings. I am pretty picky when it comes to toppings. I don’t necessarily like meat on my pizza, so I usually opt for Black Olives and onions- tasty! That’s my favorite at Clara’s- they chop their meat super small and I don’t like the texture.
Amber, I’m a pizza-a-holic. My favorites include pizza king (claras) pepperoni and green olive; pizza forum BBQ chicken; and 816 pint n slice “the don”. None of these places would be considered “fine dining” but the pizza is terrific.
Ah, Pizza Forum. I haven’t tried their pizza yet, but I have a couple of friends who swear by it. Thanks for the recommendation.
I am still searching for the perfect pizza in FW, too. I do like Pizza Forum quite a bit though. I have heard Oly’s is good. I agree that 800 Degrees’ pizza is a bit soggy. Love the salads. Next time you go (ha!) wait for a table in the bar (off to the left as you walk in). They serve you in the traditional style – no getting up from the table to order.
Hi Heidi- Thank you for commenting! You are the 2nd to mention Pizza Forum today so I must add them to my list. A friend on facebook recommendation a pizza place in Bluffton- which is way too far away, but may make a good motorcycle destination this summer. Thanks for the tip about the bar – that may make a difference.
I was underwhelmed by 800 Degrees. I had the same experience with soggy crust. Actually, Amber, your experience kind of mirrors my own. So many people told me how great it was, and I was disappointed. Maybe it was because it was so over-hyped? I don’t know, but I really have no desire to return.
Thank you for commenting Beth. I am glad I am not the only one.
I’m tellin’ ya Amber, Black Dog pizza is AMAZING. Go for the pepperoni (it’s spicy though!) or the Big Dog pizza with all the fixin’s. And if you’re not in a hurry, share a basket of their mushrooms for an appetizer…hand-battered and by far the best in town! They’re huge though, come very hungry;-)
Agree with Heidi on the bar. We always eat on that side, usually at the bar. Full service and good conversation.
Really enjoy the Mista salad. I do enjoy their pizza – Funghi especially. I usually order the 800 degrees signature without oil. Still hot but easier on the lips.
Pizza is a very personal choice. It is fun to do the search.
My fav is Mad Anthonys with feta, pepperoni, and green olives. Makes my non-cheese eating mouth water. 🙂