Monday, March 1, 2010
Weekend life in Oakland is defined by two sets of choices. One is either climbing up a huge hill to a party at a douchey fraternity that smells like a YMCA or trekking through South Oakland, hopefully finding a dilapidated house covered with piss and beer. The other choice is deciding where to get pizza afterwards: Antoon’s Pizza, or Sorrento’s Pizza Roma.
It doesn’t matter if you want pizza or not. If it is one AM on a Saturday and you are in Oakland, you are getting pizza, so you’d better damned well know what you’re dealing with. I’m just going to come out and say it before I start the review—I’m a Sorrento’s man through and through, but it’s worth mentioning the merits (and downsides) of both.
The first thing that needs to be mentioned is location. If you’re coming from the direction of Pitt’s campus, all you need to do is walk down the street about a block or two, turn the corner and walk another block—piece of cake. The first one you’ll see is Sorrento’s, complete with a sign advertising their $5 Large Plain Pizza deal (It doesn’t matter if you want toppings. You are getting plain. If you want toppings, go to Pizza Sola or something. Just get out of here). If you walk a little further, you come upon Antoon’s which, being the cutthroat businessmen that they are, are advertising a large pizza for only $4.98. I can only assume the two cent price difference is to make up for the extra 20 feet you have to walk to get there, but mostly it’s just really effective in making Sorrento’s out to be a bunch of assholes. Technically these prices only apply after 8 PM, so it’s a bit of a wait if you were hoping to have pizza for dinner, but like I said before, with Antoon’s and Sorrento’s it’s more of a late night experience.
So about the atmosphere. Antoon’s is really just shitty, or awesome depending on if you’re drunk or not. You slide into the 3 foot wide area to tell them how many pizzas you want, and then you have to scamper back onto the street and wait in a huge crowd of people for them to call your name. It leads to a lot of yelling and interesting conversation, but in the winter it’s hard to care when all you want is your pizza. Sorrento’s, on the other hand, is nice enough to have an indoor dining area, and best of all it has booths with those curvy wooden bench things that are common in pizza places. It’s still crowded, so you get the fun conversation without worrying about the cold.
Now on to the pizza itself. This is really where things matter, because other than the fact that Sorrento’s has places to sit, they’re pretty much the same experience in the end. I’ll start with Antoon’s, since it was the first one I tried. The first thing you’ll notice is that the pizzas are cut so many times that eating nine slices is really no big deal, because that’s not even a whole pizza. It is, however, a larger pizza than what is offered at Sorrento’s. So you’re paying two cents less for a bigger pizza, but the odd thing about Antoon’s is that it feels like you’re just burning through the pizza and not getting full. The sauce is very tomato-y. There’s not a lot of it, but there’s not a lot of cheese either, or crust for that matter, although it does manage to not feel like you’re eating a piece of paper. But anyway, I’m not a fan of just a tomato-y tasting sauce. I need some sort of herb in it to be completely satisfied. However, the one thing I do LOVE about Antoon’s is that every slice is consistent with the last. You tend to never get an “off” pizza there. They have their system nailed down. Unfortunately that means that the pizza is consistently ‘not very good.’ It tastes VAGUELY like vomit, and I stress vaguely because it tastes so little like vomit that it’s more like one of those burps where all of a sudden you taste pizza again. So like a… good vomit?
Sorrento’s, which like I said, is my favorite of the two, has a smaller Pizza in terms of diameter, and it’s not much thicker, but it seems and tastes like there’s more to it. The cheese is thicker, which I like. The sauce is thinner, and has a good taste to it. It’s one of those sauces that makes you go, “Mmm! I’m enjoying some pizza!” The BIGGEST problem with Sorrento’s is quite possibly my least favorite thing that can happen to a pizza, and it happens often. Since the cheese doesn’t overlap onto the crust as much as it could, there’s a line of sauce that can escape before you get to it. By the time you do, some of the sauce was pushed back there and now it’s overflowing and the ratio is all messed up. This CAN make the crust more enjoyable, but only if the cheese hasn’t congealed somewhat, causing it to separate from the pizza and flap up. In that scenario you need to push down on it with your finger when you bite it so it doesn’t come apart. Aside from that, it’s definitely a positive experience, even though no one would call it “great pizza.”
To summarize, I would consider Sorrento’s to be a classier eating experience, even though it’s trashy as hell. Antoon’s is more like, “YO MAN I WANT SOME FUCKEN PIZZA LETS GET SIX,” and you also have forgotten Sorrento’s is there because you came from the direction of South Oakland. If you’re more cognizant, you’re bound to decide that paying two cents more for what is easily a better pizza is well worth it.
Although if the sun is out, you probably shouldn’t even bother.