I have had a few recommendations for this place, and it is very close to our house. So the other night, when I really didn’t want to cook, we took the kids and headed over. It hasn’t been open too long, and from what I have heard and seen, this location has never done very well with any restaurant. When we pulled in, we thought we might have trouble getting in, because the parking lot seemed very full. However, I guess the restaurant must be quite a bit larger than the parking lot (and they have a fair amount of outside seating) because the inside was pretty empty. We were the only table in our entire section.
So this place is a chain, although a chain in Montana, Idaho, and Washington, so I am not exactly sure what inspired them to open one in Indiana, other than I guess chains do so well here (sigh). It will be interesting to see how they do, particularly in this location.
Anyway, our server was friendly, and fairly attentive. We started with an order of “lodge poles” which are described as breadsticks with cheese and served with marinara. So I know that a lot (all?) breadsticks are often made with the same dough used in the pizza, but this was actually one of their pizza crusts which was cut in half and had cheese melted on it and a bowl of marinara. So basically, it was a cheese pizza with the sauce on the side and cut into thinner slices. They didn’t taste bad, and had a nice bit of garlic to them, but really, I felt like I was having a pizza appetizer before my pizza. The marinara is pretty good—more savory than sweet which I like.
We also ordered a regular small pizza on their original crust (which is sourdough—same as for the breadsticks). On this one we went with the classic margarita—mozzarella, tomato, and basil. The toppings were pretty fresh and plentiful and tasted good. Here’s the thing though—I am pretty sure the crust on their “original” pizza (and the sticks) is made somewhere and frozen. They are perfectly round discs that even have little holes punched into the crust—I assume to keep the shape when they are frozen. I don’t know, in this day and age, with all the pizza choices there are, I thought this was kind of lame. And the crust was bready and dense, and just didn’t do it for me. Honestly, I think Boboli is better (and it’s not my favorite).
The thin crust was better—it appeared to be made fresh, as it was super thin and much more irregular in shape. It was crispy and a much better alternative to the regular crust. We got the Sequoia which is pesto (instead of marinara), artichokes, sundried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and mozzarella cheese. Interestingly, it was pretty spicy—I am assuming it was a combination of a lot of garlic in the pesto and maybe the marinade of the sun dried tomatoes. It was pretty good though. The crust was much crispier and I liked the combination of toppings. The artichokes gave it that slightly vinegar taste and the pine nuts a bit of crunch. And I liked that there was enough cheese to make it feel rich and not like a veggie flatbread or something. They have a lot of choices for their pizza combos and I can appreciate that they have a nice variation of things. Although sometimes it seems a little overwhelming because there are so many options.
So honestly, there was nothing about it food-wise that made me want to go back, even though with its proximity to our house, I will never say never. (They did have a decent selection of local beer.) I have a feeling that several of you will disagree with me about this review though, so please share your thoughts. And while you’re at it, please share your favorite pizza places. It has been awhile since we talked pizza and I’m always looking for something good….
MacKenzie River Pizza
4939 East 82nd Street