Saturday, May 9, 2009

Pizza, Pizza

We came to a fork in the road . . ., well, not literally.

We wanted pizza, and two places, Zax and Pasta Jay’s, had both gotten decent reviews on the web. We asked the friendly clerk at the office supply store (we were replacing our electric pencil sharpener) for a recommendation, and she said both places served good pizza. So, since we were a half a block closer to Zax, Zax was our destination.

Like many restaurants on Main Street in Moab, UT, Zax has an outdoor dining patio. The day was beautiful and way too nice to sit inside, so the patio it was. They serve an all you can eat pizza luncheon buffet that includes soup and salad. While the price was right ($12.99), I have never thought that pizza holds up well under those high intensity buffet lights. So to the menu we went and ordered one small Margherita and one small cheese and sausage.

Zax’s pizza is wood fired and they boast about their special “honey” crust. Usually wood fired means very thin crust but, alas, such was not the case. While both pizzas’ crusts were the thinnest we’ve eaten in Utah, by East Coast standards, I would still not consider the crusts “thin.” I didn’t quite get the honey crust. I am assuming that honey was added to the dough to enhance the action of the yeast, but taste wise, I couldn’t detect anything special.

Of the two, I preferred the Margherita, with olive oil and garlic substituting for tomato sauce. But I was not happy that the fresh basil was added before baking. This makes the herb turn a dark color and mutes the vibrant flavor of fresh basil. The too thick crust and the excess of cheese made for a heavy pie.

The cheese and sausage pizza was also topped with too much cheese and too much tomato sauce. The sausage was in chunks and not slices (one point in their favor) and had a mild fennel flavor--probably the best element of this pie.

Zax had the best Utah pizza to date, but our pizza craving was still not satisfied, and we judge these to be 3.5 Addie pizzas.

A few days later, I was getting my hair cut and asked Alberta, owner of Alberta’s Images Salon and my stylist that day, where she goes in Moab for pizza. She told me that a lot of people like Eddie McStiff’s, a lot of people like Zax, but she and her husband go to Pasta Jay’s, because he likes a crust that is cracker thin. Hallelujah!! A thin crust in Utah. Chuck and I immediately made a hot date for thin crust pizza.

Pasta Jay’s is attached to, but is not a part of, a Best Western motel and has a large outdoor covered dining area. Are you tired of me saying how beautiful the weather is? Sorry, but the weather was beautiful (no humidity and temperatures in the high sixties), and we sat outdoors to watch the activity on Main Street.

Again we ordered one Margherita and one cheese and sausage and asked for “light” sauce on both. (The Margherita comes with both tomato sauce and sliced tomatoes). We also asked our server if she would have the kitchen wait and put the sausage pie in the oven when the Margherita came out. Sabrina said she’d do her best, and we were pleased that the sausage pizza arrived when we were almost finished with the Margherita. (One thing we learned at Zax was that the cool air chills the cheese too soon.)

Alberta did not steer us wrong. Not only was the crust thin as promised, the kitchen was prudent when applying the cheese and the amount of tomato sauce was light as requested. Again, the basil on the Margherita was added before baking, but that was my only complaint about either pie.

Pasta Jay’s was altogether a pleasing pizza experience, and we rate it as 4.0 on the 5.0 Addie scale.

Nice to come to a fork in the road and take both routes.

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