Louisville has grown to become one of my favorite cities. Apparently, the rest of the world is coming around since Australian-based Lonely Planet has just named it the top US tourist destination of 2013. Louisville, Kentucky is a great place to see historic architecture, shop in unique stores, enjoy a wide variety of food, and drink bourbon. Unfortunately for me–as I have discussed in an earlier blog–pizza has not been one of its greatest attractions.
It so happened that Music City Mike and JBW, his friend from Cali, were quite hungry after the recent Springsteen concert at the playfully-named KFC Yum! Center. When the 15,000+ fans all exited said arena at 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, Downtown Louisville became a mad scramble of hungry people looking for a late-night place to eat. Wanting to make JBW a Snob associate, I thought we’d seek out some pie and a fresh story. Our first attempt at a nearby Bearno’s was a dud since it was hopping with live music and a cadre of drunken revelers with no apparent host controlling the incoming. We then headed across the street to The Original Impellizzeri’s Pizza where, although packed, we were able to get seated in 10 minutes. A few years ago I visited their Bardstown Road location–one of three Louisville locations–and my faint memory was that it was tasty but untraditional. Hunger and story-seeking drove us to give it a chance.
Impellizzeri’s has been a Louisville fixture since 1979 despite a short downtime from 2005-2007. It boasts that it makes pies with two layers of cheese and two layers of toppings, self-proclaiming their creation as the “Louisville Style of Pizza.” It’s a full service bar and restaurant offering a few full Italian dishes in addition to the usual simple fare of pizza, calzones and hoagies.
JBW and I went for a plain, large “Thin-Crust,” as opposed to “Sicilian Deep-Dish” pie. As the photo below shows, the pie arrived completely covered with a sea of white, overflowing cheese. The presence of any tomato sauce was barely visible. Plain and simple: it was a sloppy mess to eat! The cheese was way too much and all over the place. The slices were as hard to separate from one another as it was to stop the flow of cheese to end each bite. We needed a lot of napkins! I wonder if the band The String Cheese Incident got their name from eating here. To see the greater mess it would have been with toppings, watch their commercial here. Our pie was too much for us to finish and although we took our leftovers back to the hotel, we ultimately had no desire to revisit the “incident” and just let them go to waste.
On the good side, this is a fine restaurant using good quality ingredients—just too much of them! The bottom crust of the pie was thin as labeled and was cooked crisp. Like the cheese, unfortunately, the end crust was also too much to deal with and wound up staying uneaten on the table. A dose of oregano was noticeable on top, however, it and any other unique seasonings involved got lost in the excess of cheese. If a fully-loaded pie with several toppings is your desire, then Impellizzeri’s may be your kind of place. But for me, it’s just more than I want to handle.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ** Why Did I Waste Those Calories?
The Original Impellizzeri’s Pizza
110 West Main Street
Louisville, KY 40202