Thursday, February 9, 2012

Twilight of the Pizzas

Dionysus Restaurant and Lounge, 8 E. Preston St.

Sometimes when I think about pizza, I think about the dynamic tension between man's darkest desires and the polite necessities of civilized life. Pizza can symbolize our urge to self-destruction, the attraction of the greasy abyss; yet it can also lead us to strive for something higher and better. I'm sad to report that, on the particular day that we visited, Dionysus was slipping towards the abyss. Their pizza was not very good.

Since Pizza Club members had visited Dionysus on many previous occasions and reported delicious pizza experiences, we were surprised by this finding. Unfortunately, our job is to give you an objective account of what happened. We suspect that something may have been amiss on this particular day, and to improve the accuracy of our sample, we will have to make another visit to determine whether the pizza we ate was an outlier. However, we present you here with the the facts as they stand.

Dionysus doesn't have pre-formulated specialty pizzas; you just pick from a list of toppings. Members of our group wanted more guidance, particularly with exotic toppings such as alligator, and perhaps we would have done better with chef's recommendations. The restaurant is Cajun-themed, so in addition to the alligator and seafood options, be aware that the all-purpose red sauce is usually spicy and garlicky (in a good way). On the ill-starred day of our visit, even the sauce lacked zing.

We ordered a large artichoke and mushroom pizza, a small crab and onion pizza, and a small alligator and spinach pizza. The first pie appeared steaming from the kitchen, heavy and lush with toppings. There was a lot of cheese, and a lot of sauce, and a lot of dough. It seemed unusually thick all around, and soon became spongy and unstable – a sloppy pizza. We enjoyed the artichoke and mushroom, but found the sheer quantity of gummy dough unmanageable. The second pizza (crab and onion) was not notable. The tomato sauce overpowered the other ingredients, and it might have been wiser to order crab on a white pie.

The third pizza was a novelty, since most of us had never eaten alligator. “The promise of eating an endangered species was exciting,” Jonah said, “but now I feel like I just wasted a life.” Presumably the alligator's. Some members reported that the enigmatic meat was “taut” in texture, with the consistency of chicken and the flavor of fish, but Tyler felt that “I still don't really know what alligator tastes like.”

Had we not sampled Dionysus' pizza in better times, we would have to write it off based on this experience. There were signs of the pizza that we know and love: the edge crust still had some light, bubbly texture to it, but in the middle of the pie things got gummy and we left feeling stuffed with dough. The cheese was good but laid on indiscriminately, lacking character, and without the nice browning or bubbling that you get with a thinner layer of cheese. The sauce was still faintly spicy, and had some garlic kick, but mostly it was too sweet and overabundant. We actually left multiple slices of pizza on the tray, uneaten. Dionysus is a nice bar and worth visiting to hang out and grab a beer, but at the moment we can't recommend that you go there just for the pizza.

4/8 slices