Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Best Pizza in Provo UT and Arlington MA

I have long believed that Nicolitalia Pizzeria is the best pizza in Utah. Even better than The Pie. When I was out in Utah a year ago I had "eat at Nicolitalia's" on my list of things to do. It ended up not working out on that tripv(because we never went down to Provo), but it gives you an idea of how much I liked their pizza.

My wife and I were some of their first customers after they opened in 2005. We took our siblings to it for major events. We chatted it up with the owner. The owner told us about his pursuit of good cannolis. He shared a three day birth story with my pregnant wife right before we had our first child (after a labor spanning three days). He told us about his family's restaurant back in Massachusetts. On one of our last times there I discussed with my group how it was a shame the place was so empty. I worried that he would have to close up. That was a few years ago.

Tonight my wife and I went on a date. We have a notoriously bad time choosing where to go eat. Today I decided to try a pizza place called Nicola Pizza House in Arlington, Massachusetts. I thought this was probably the family restaurant related to Nicolitalia's, but my wife was not convinced. She thought it was in Worcester. When we found the pizzeria it looked like a bit of a dive, isolated and next to an auto mechanic. My wife was even a little nervous about the neighborhood. Don't worry, we made it in safely.

On the way in I noticed some pictures of the pizza and they looked similar to Nicolitalia's. As I walked in familiar smells surrounded me, but I also was overwhelmed by the menu which stretched across the wall and was several feet deep. Other customers were around, so we felt a little pressure to make an order. My wife still did not believe Nicola's was related to Nicolitalia's, so she ordered a steak & cheese. I decided that sounded pretty good and got one as well. While we were eating we saw a number of people come in and pick up pizzas, while some townies came in and got a sub.

Then my wife overheard somebody asking the owner, Nick, about his son, Nick Jr. The father then explained how Junior was doing really well serving the best pizza in Utah. What was the likelihood? We decided to ask and make sure. We talked to Nick as we left and confirmed the relationship. We then found out the business in Utah was doing really well, and they were opening a second store in between Salt Lake City and Provo. Senior explained that his son was coming to town for Thanksgiving and that we could see him next Saturday. He got our names and said he was going to ask him about us. We tried to tell him it had been a while since we'd been there, but he didn't seem to care.

We were happy to hear that Nicolitalia's was doing well, but we were more excited to find the same style pizza locally in Massachusetts. My wife then repeatedly berated herself for not believing me and therefore not ordering a pizza. Unfortunately, our plans for the rest of the evening fell through. After socializing a bit with some people we ran into, we decided we needed to go back and get a pizza. So we called in an order, drove back to Nicola's, parked right in front, and I went in (my wife stayed in the car).
Nick: Nathan! You are back so soon. What's wrong?
I explained that my wife had not believed me that this was the original family restaurant.
Nick: Wasn't that your wife with you earlier?
I clarified that she had believed Nick, but that she had not believed me before we asked him. I then told him that we had ordered a pizza. He got me it and I asked about the cannolis.
Nick: We have packs of two large ones that are chocolate or packs of four small ones. If you want a pack of two large ones that aren't chocolate, I can go back and make you some.
I ran out and asked my wife, and then came back in to finish my order. I explained that my brother-in-law was a fan of Nicolitalia's and he was watching my kids. Nick asked about my kids as I paid. As I was leaving I mentioned that we would probably be coming by a lot more now. He explained that he had been doing it for almost forty years. I don't think he gets many referrals in that direction.

So we brought back a Nicola Pizza House pizza and four cannolis. Then my brother and sister-in-law joined us in eating it all. We had a chicken and broccoli pizza, just like we used to at Nicolitalia Pizzeria, and it was still awesome.