I’ve been eating pizza wrong for my whole, entire life – until now.
(Or until last Saturday, to be exact.)
Inizio Pizzeria contacted our us asking us to try out their Winter seasonal pizza – the Toscana. Naturally, our response to their invitation to try anything “seasonal” was a resounding, YES!
We planned our trip to Charlotte several weeks in advance by inviting a bunch of our friends to join us for some pizza and an enjoyable night out in the Queen City. (This is where things start going right!)
Saturday morning, we schlepped our friend, Taylor, into our backseat and made the drive from Greensboro, and after stopping for coffee and stopping to do "coffee stuff", we met up with our friends, (Meredith, Evan, Gabby, Rich and Marisa,) for lunch.
As you open the doors, your eyes are drawn to their two massive pizza ovens in the back. They’re exhaling smells of roasted tomatoes, bubbling cheese, and freshly toasted and chewy pizza crusts.
How to do Pizza “The Right Way”
Each couple agreed to order a different pizza. After careful consideration while in line reading over the menu, we ordered five pizzas for us to taste test! When they all arrived, everyone picked off slices from each of the pies and our tasting ensued.
First – the Toscana Seasonal Pizze
Talk about a savory white pizza! White Pizza is my favorite style, but Inizio takes this to the next level. Instead of just starting with a layer of cheese, they smear a creamy and garlicky vegetable sauce down and top it with diced potato, sausage, kale, and buffalo mozzarella. Their crust, (used for each pie,) is thin and perfectly toasted on the edges. Although I personally prefer a firmer crust, I also appreciate a good slice where the crust is so thin and the toppings are so plentiful that the whole thing feels like it will fall apart, (if you don’t shove it in your mouth fast enough.) What a creative winter seasonal treat!
Second – the Giardino (White) Pizze
This is the pizza that Justin and I chose to get. The Giardino will not let you down. Topped with mushrooms, broccoli rabe, garlic, pomodrini cherry tomatoes, and buffalo mozz – this pizza has the perfect bite every time. There is a special place in my heart for pizza with mushrooms, and each bite has the perfect mushroom to cheese ratio… a little salty, a little earthy, a little “wow” each time… (so I would definitely order this again and again!)
Third – the Diavola Pizze (Traditional with Red Sauce)
What is there not to love about a pepperoni pizza? Well if it’s got fresh thinly cut salami and peppers, how could you not love it even more? The Diavola looks like your traditional pepperoni with San Marzano red sauce, but is packed with so much more flavor. The spices in the salami and the salty pecorino sprinkled on top bring this over the top.
Fourth – the Pistacchio (White) Pizze
Think of a pesto pizza, and add pistachios and some rosemary for a little extra punch. This was the best pesto pizza I have ever eaten, and my favorite out of the five we tasted. The pesto’s salty and sweet flavors were so well balanced, and the extra crunchy texture from the nuts is so satisfying. Of course, it was also topped with buffalo mozz, some extra garlic, and sea salt for added perfection.
Fifth – the Margherita Pizze (Traditional with Red Sauce)
After stuffing our faces with all of the above pizzas, Justin insisted that we didn’t order enough, because… how could we possibly judge a pizza place with good merit, without trying their margherita? So we ordered one. I don’t know how to describe this pizza, (or how we managed to eat any more,) other than by: “melted cheesey goodness.” We’re also suckers for some fresh basil on a pizza, and add it to our own pizzas at home all of the time. How could this be a true contender of great pizza places without any? With fresh basil strips, garlic, pecorino, buffalo mozz, and their foundational San Marzano sauce – this pizza confirmed our original findings that this was must-see, (or must-eat-at,) in Charlotte.
Sixth – Dolci (Dessert, of course!)
Without haste, and despite how ridiculously full I was, I decided I must try and share a cannoli and gelato. This wasn’t just any cannoli though, (and I tend to be particular about cannolis since I grew up in Rochester, New York.) This was an Apple Pie cannoli – their seasonal special – with a shell that was stuffed full of freshly squeezed ricotta filling and drizzled with caramel sauce. Of course, that’s not enough, so Inizio sprinkles apple crumb cake on top with some powdered sugar. Paired with some creamy, chocolate hazelnut gelato, I was in Italian American heaven.
Inizio Pizza Napoletana is definitely an establishment that you need to go to – ASAP. Sit in with a glass of wine or can of beer, or take out and chow down in your pajamas at home, (as a couple of Northern pizza snobs,) we confirm that you need to check this place out!
Visit: Inizio Pizza Napoletana
Addresses: Providence Commons (10620 Providence Rd, Charlotte, NC 28277) or Dilworth (2230 Park Rd, Charlotte, NC 28203)
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11AM-9:30PM; Friday-Saturday 11AM-10:30PM (“or until the dough runs out”)