day twenty: pizza aroma
June 5, 2011 § Leave a comment
It had been a while since my last visit to Pizza Aroma. When I worked from home and, thus, spent more leisurely time strolling The Commons, I would stop in for a specialty slice almost weekly. With the addition of a day job to my schedule, Pizza Aroma’s somewhat inconvenient location for pick-up and former lack of delivery service (which has now, thankfully, been rectified) interrupted this ritual. I was pleased to stop in yesterday and find that the place still retained not only its titular aroma, but had also acquired a certain sabor as well — with the addition of El Salvadorian food to its menu.
The Ithaca Festival vendors were just packing up for the day, so Pizza Aroma was boppin’ when I came in. The tight, friendly space with its hodge-podge wallpaper of event posters and international phone cards made it feel more like a New York City pizza joint than an Ithaca one. A long line of customers waited for pizza by the slice while a boisterously happy Latino family laughed as their kids danced to the salsa music that blared over the speakers.
I had called 20 minutes in advance to order a large of my favorite offering, The Mediterranean, a white pizza with olive oil, feta, fresh tomatoes and basil with a choice of black olives, artichokes or fresh red peppers. Alas, the El Salvadorian food would have to wait for a return visit. As I waited, I ogled the pizzas available by the slice and, in order to keep my grubby little fingers away from pizza belonging to others, pressed down on my camera button instead.
The best thing about Pizza Aroma is its wide variety of toppings. Scanning the pizza bar or menu, I see many of my favorites, old and new: White Garlic Pizza, BBQ Chicken and Bacon, Pesto Veggie (with artichoke, broccoli, fresh tomatoes and fresh red peppers), Mozzarella and Basil, and the generously heaped Salad Pie, which comes topped with mozzarella, tomatoes, artichokes, spinach, onions, roasted red peppers, black olives, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Were I eating alone and not tasked to bring back a pizza that would satisfy all parties involved, I might try some of the less traditional pizzas, such as the Black Bean Pizza with mozzarella, feta, avocado and tomato or the Potato Pizza with bacon, mozzarella, cheddar and scallions. While a number of gut-wrenching experiences with eating seafood at local restaurants not really equipped to be serving seafood have deterred me from being more adventurous in this food genre, even Pizza Aroma’s Seafood Pizza with shrimp, crabmeat (probably imitation), fresh dill and butter sounded appetizing.
If you’re going out of pizza by the slice with a group of friends with diverse dietary restrictions, Pizza Aroma is a good choice: Vegetarians, vegans and the gluten-adverse will all find suitable options here. Pizza Aroma offers two different kinds of vegan cheese, soy cheese and, for the soy-adverse, Daiya cheese, which is made from tapioca starch. If there exists a person in this world who is downright pizza-adverse, there are calzones, subs and wings, too.
My pizza that night was fresh and flavorful, an all-around solid pizza performer. I like Pizza Aroma’s crusts, soft on the top and crunchy underneath, with one caveat: They use a bit too much cornmeal on the bottom, which creates a texture that feels unnecessary. Were I to be assigning star ratings, this pizza would get four stars out of five. Fresher ingredients and toppings, though, could push it up to a five. But I’m not going to be assigning star ratings, thanks to douchebags like Matthew H. from Salt Lake City, UT, who gives Pizza Aroma one star on Yelp saying:
“I went in at 9:45 and was pleased to find the sign said they were open until 11pm. When I approached the counter a guy yelled from the back room ‘slices only, we close in 15 minutes!’ I asked if the sign was wrong and he yelled, ‘the sign doesn’t stay open, we do.’”
Matthew H. didn’t even order a slice, I bet, did he? Instead, he was probably so upset that Pizza Aroma wasn’t going to be staying open an extra hour for him on Thursday, 3/24/11, that he left, furious and hungry, and headed straight back over to his hotel room at the Holiday Inn, where he immediately cracked open the mini-bar, downed a $10 shot of vodka, signed onto Yelp and triumphantly wrote his one-star review of the place, before proceeding to order the world’s shittiest $15 slice of pizza from room service, eating it, and passing out alone on the hotel bed, with one hand down his pants.
I’m not going to be like Matthew H. Instead, I’m going to say that Pizza Aroma is very good and, if you haven’t tried it or it’s been a while, to stop by and grab a slice.
Price: Pizza-tastic ($15 – $24.50 for large pizzas, depending upon your topping, feeds 4)
Location: 128 S. Cayuga, at Green Street
Recommended: The Mediterranean, other specialty pizzas per your taste
Online menu: Pizza Aroma
Delivery phone: (607) 273-6165