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Pensacola Pizzathon Stop 2: O’Zone Pizza Pub

2 Mar

The Pensacola Pizzathon continues!

For our weekly dinner date, Mr. Parker and I visited O’Zone Pizza Pub in Pensacola. I’d had pizza from O’Zone earlier last summer before I met Mr. Parker, and I’ve measured every pizza I’ve consumed since then against the masterpiece of deliciousity they served me.

It was that good. I still talk about it, so I decided Mr. Parker needed to experience the magic.

Location
O’Zone is located in the basement of the old Sacred Heart hospital, which looks like a creepy old castle. We like to assume that “basement” = “morgue” (we’re very mature, non-morbid individuals, what can I say), so the location is simultaneously interesting and eerie. Really – have a look.

This is a very casual place, and it’s much larger than it looks when you first enter. The basement has been redecorated, so it doesn’t look hospital-esque in the least (if you’re actually after the creep factor, do be sure to walk through the building’s main hallways).

Atmosphere
We stopped by on Thursday, February 24, and O’Zone was crowded and noisy. We didn’t have to wait for a table, though, and our hostess seated us in the back room in the corner, so the chatter wasn’t bothersome. We did have a very large table of intoxicated, PBR-swilling hipsters on the other side of the room, but they were far enough away for us not to have to hear their every word.

Service
Our server was fantastic. She was prompt and friendly, and she took excellent care of us and made sure we had everything we needed without being intrusive. Her timing was impeccable; our drinks never sat empty, and she brought us a takeaway box and the check when we were done, yet we never felt the least bit rushed.

Food
We both ordered sodas – Dr. Pepper for Mr. Parker and Diet Coke for me. O’Zone did have some good drink specials – I recall $2 on-the-rocks Margaritas being mentioned – but neither of us partook in the alcohol. Mr. Parker was driving, and I had to work the next morning.

To start, we shared a house salad with Greek dressing. It was good! The greens were chilled to the perfect temperature, and the combination of lettuces was ideal. It had the perfect amount of crunch. The giant homemade croutons were great, too, and the salad was a nice size for the two of us to split.

For our pizza, I suggested the Italian Flag. It’s the pie I had when I ate at O’Zone the first time, and given Mr. Parker’s taste preferences, I was confident he’d like it. It has classic sauce, cheese, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, and swirls of pesto. I’m not a fan of peppers or onions and Mr. Parker doesn’t like mushrooms (“They’re spores!”), so our Italian Flag had just sauce, cheese, pepperoni, sausage, and pesto.

And it was phenomenal.

The pizza arrived at our table piping hot and smelling heavenly, like basil and sausage. Mmmm.

I’m a sauce person, and the red stuff at O’Zone does not disappoint. It’s abundant and flavorful with just a hint of zing. The cheese – oh lawd, the cheese! – was melty, gooey, and delicious. The pepperoni was tasty, and the bits of sausage were perfect – not too big, not too small, not too seedy, not too hamburger-y. And the pesto… oh my goodness, the pesto. It makes this pizza. Even the crust was fantastic. While not exactly crunchy, neither thick nor thin, the edges were just crisp, the inside was tender and slightly chewy, and the flavor was amazing. I think I detected a hint of rosemary or perhaps thyme. So good!

We chose the 14″ pizza, which I believe was about $18. The salad was $4.95. Not necessarily cheap for pizza, but pretty reasonable for such great food and service. We finished the salad and all but two slices of the pizza.

The Verdict
Mr. Parker has declared the Italian Flag from O’Zone his new favorite “best pizza” he’s ever had.

He also kept the leftovers. Yes, I am the nicest ladyfriend in the world.

O’Zone has things other than pizza, too; however, I can’t seem to locate one of their menus online.

If you’re in the mood for an amazing pizza in a casual, unique atmosphere, definitely stop by! I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed. We can’t wait to go back.

O’Zone Pizza Pub
1010 North 12th Avenue
Pensacola, Florida 32501
Monday – Saturday, 11 am – 12 am
Sunday – 11 am – 10 pm
850-433-7336

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Local Restaurant Review – The Tuscan Oven

10 Feb

Pizza is so delicious. Crispy crust, tangy sauce, and gooey cheese. Mmm. Good pizza is one of my favorite things.

Thankfully, there are several restaurants in town that have fantastic pizza. One of my favorites is the Tuscan Oven. Mr. Parker and I went to the Tuscan Oven fairly early in our relationship and we had one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had in my life, no joke. Not only was it delicious, but it was no more expensive than a takeout or delivery pizza you’d get from a national chain for a MUCH better pie.

The pizzas are literally baked in a wood-fired brick oven that’s visible from most tables in the restaurant. You can also dine at the pizza bar, which provides a close-up view.

The decor is sort of classy casual, and fellow diners were dressed in everything from suits to jeans.

We chose the Abbondanza, which has sausage, pepperoni, capicolla ham, and bacon. Tuscan Oven’s pizzas come in 10″, 13″, and 15″, and we picked the 13″, thinking we’d both get plenty of pizza, plus he could take the leftovers to work for lunch. We were right! The medium Abbondanza runs about $15. We ended up taking two slices with us. Had we unlimited capacity stomachs, we probably would’ve finished it.

I ordinarily prefer pizzas that have veggies or interesting toppings like artichokes, but I’m glad we went with Mr. Parker’s Abbondanza selection. The meats were flavorful and the cheese was abundant. The crust might be my favorite part, though: it’s light and crisp on the outside, and just slightly soft and chewy on the inside. It isn’t too dry or too bready or too spongy. It is perfect.

We returned to the Tuscan Oven last Friday, February 4. The place was packed and we had a 20 minute wait. First available seating was at the pizza bar. I wish we would have waited a few extra minutes for a table, because dining at the bar wasn’t the best experience.

We didn’t have a view of the oven because the lid of the topping cooler was propped up in front of us, and we were sandwiched between two other pairs of diners. It was difficult to have a conversation, we had hardly any space for our plates and drink glasses, and we were near the kitchen door and the entryway, so people were constantly walking behind us.

Our server also stood behind us to take our orders, which was odd. She stood behind us and reached between us to give us or food and drinks, too, which was uncomfortable. I realize the place was very busy, but I was sitting on the corner and she could’ve stepped to the side and at least made eye contact with us. I was afraid to turn my head to look at Mr. Parker for fear a hand holding food or a drink refill would come shooting between us.

While I had initially planned on having a glass of wine, the frenzied pace made me reconsider and I went for a Diet Coke instead. Mr. Parker had Dr. Pepper. Our waitress refilled Mr. Parker’s several times and ignored mine. I guess it must be nice to be so handsome, eh? (Or maybe have it be assumed you’re the one paying the bill and thus determining the tip.)

I ordered a Caprese salad, which looked beautiful and had great flavor but was freezing cold. I had to let it sit for a few minutes before it was even room temperature enough to eat, and by then our pizza was there, and we had no room for anything.

We had been looking forward to enjoying some wine, pizza and a relaxing Friday night conversation, but that’s not what we got. Service was fast – very fast. We had our drinks and my salad within minutes, and our pizza was ready perhaps 5 – 10 minutes after we sat down.

We picked the Abbondanza again, which was just as phenomenal as the first. I spent the entire next day regretting my idea for Mr. Parker to once again take the leftovers to work for lunch. 🙂

We each had time to eat a slice before our check was being presented and we were asked if we wanted a box. Guess we weren’t getting dessert! I definitely felt rushed. I don’t expect to occupy seats for two hours, but I definitely don’t want my meal to be shorter than the time it took to get a table. It wasn’t just us; our server attempted to present the check to the couple next to us only to be met with protests of “But we’re not done!”

In addition to pizza, the Tuscan Oven offers a variety of salads and pastas. Their full menu is here. Although we didn’t have the relaxing pizza date I was hoping for, I do highly recommend the Tuscan Oven. I would suggest visiting on perhaps a Thursday evening and choosing a table instead of the pizza bar. That way, you’ll have adequate space, be able to make eye contact with your server, and enjoy a more relaxing experience.

I don’t think the imperfections we experienced are typical of the restaurant, and they definitely weren’t serious. We understand that when establishments are incredibly busy, it becomes difficult to do everything perfectly. Their pizza is still excellent. We will absolutely be back.

4801 North 9th Avenue Pensacola, Florida 32503

Open Tuesday – Thursday, 11 am – 9 pm Friday and Saturday, 11 am – 10 pm

http://www.thetuscanoven.com