One of the easiest conversation starters for a food lover is to ask someone where they go for pizza. Our area is flush with local shops, each with its own style and special features. Some people choose the closest place or one that delivers. We like to explore our options and often are pleasantly surprised by what we find behind often small, unassuming fronts.
We entered through the small take out area and headed to the dining room done in hunter green carpeting with homey, old-fashioned framed ads hung on white stucco walls. Since there were no menus at the tables, we asked at the counter whether there was table service or if we had to place our order there. The friendly fellow gave us paper menus and told us he’d be in to take our order. He joined us from behind the counter and asked if we needed an opener or glasses for our bottle of wine. While he was getting some glasses, another server appeared to take our order.
We asked about several items and liked the answers. The turkey for the Oven Roasted Turkey Club is from a turkey breast that is cooked and sliced in their kitchen, rather than the usual deli meat. The Slice It Up Special Pizza ($11.75 for a small, $15.50 for a large) came topped with mushrooms, pepperoni, sausage, peppers and onions. We could even substitute a different topping for the onions since we asked to have them left off.
The difference between the Italian Hoagie ($5.50) and the Special Italian Hoagie ($6.50) was the prosciutto and sharp Provolone cheese used for the Special. Both were served on rolls from Abruzzi Bakers in South Philly. Our server offered a choice of hot or mild peppers for the hoagie. Seeing our concern that "hot" may be too hot for our taste, he said he’d put them on the side for us to taste. We placed our order and assured him that we wanted to try a number of items and planned to take some food with us.
We opened our wine and toasted the staff who made us feel like welcome regulars. A family convened at a nearby table for what we learned is a weekly ritual of pizza and hoagies. We asked for water at the counter and were offered a cup from the soda fountain or bottles from the refrigerated case. A corner television with moderate volume and white ceiling fans added to the neighborhood place feel. Paper napkins were stacked on each table alongside shakers of salt, pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes.
Our thoughtful, intuitive server brought the Special Italian Hoagie ($6.50) made with onions on only one half and long roasted red peppers in a plastic container on the side. The fresh, crusty roll and spicy meat combination still allowed the flavor of the sharp Provolone to be appreciated. The roasted red peppers were firm, in olive oil rather than mushy from brine, and had a good level of spiciness for us. The garlic pickle slices still had some crunch.
The Oven Roasted Turkey Club ($6.50) had too much of the thinly sliced homemade turkey for one of us. Freshly toasted bread, crisp lettuce, bacon and a tomato slice with waning flavor pleased us both.
The large Slice It Up Special Pizza ($15.50) had a medium doughy crust topped with flavorful sauce, cheese, ground sausage, red and green peppers, mushrooms and mild pepperoni in good balance. Paper plates and plastic utensils were brought with the pan of pizza.
Our server returned to ask if we wanted a box for the remaining pizza. The club was easily carried in its plastic container. We had asked that a small Tomato Pie ($6) be boxed to go without bringing it to our table, and it was waiting for us at the counter where we paid our check.
The tomato pie had a light dusting of cheese on the slightly sweet, spicy basil tomato sauce and light airy crust.
Great Valley Center, Routes 30 and 401, Malvern
Hours: Mon - Thurs, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Fri, 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.; Sat, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun, 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Cost: Appetizers, soups, $2.50 to $6; pizza, $8 – $16; sandwiches, salads, $4.50 - $7
Credit cards: VISA, MasterCard, AmEx, Discover
Special Features: Family friendly, all day delivery, vegetarian options, free WiFi