It's really hard for me to pick a favorite food, but if had to pick just one, it would definitely be pizza. So I thought no better way to start my Creative Loafing debut than by breaking down my one of my favorite group of Charlotte restaurants, Pizza Midwood.
Pizza Midwood is the affectionate term for the 0.8 mile stretch of Central Avenue that cuts right through the heart of Plaza Midwood and is home to four pizza places (for pizza lovers, this could also be known as heaven on earth).
A lot of research and many mouthfuls of melted mozzarella later, here's the deep dish on where to get the best pies in Pizza Midwood.
Pure Pizza is the reigning queen of Pizza Midwood, with some of the best pizza you can find in Mecklenburg County. Their pizza is best described with their name, "pure," and highlights organic, farm fresh, local ingredients.
Their crust is perfectly crispy and puffy at the same time, and hits the right ratio between not too thick and not too thin. They're generous with the toppings (extra garlic, please!), have a flavorful sauce and a healthy sprinkling of cheese (my only complaint... a little more cheese never hurt anyone).
My go-order is the Pure Country (sub ham for pepperoni and add mushrooms), but really any of their pizzas are drool inducing. Combine their excellent 'za with counter service, local beers, gender neutral bathrooms and an overall friendly and casual vibe and no wonder Pure Pizza is the crowned jewel of Pizza Midwood.
The Pizza Peel
When you're looking for something out of the (pizza) box, beeline for the The Pizza Peel, ranking number two in Pizza Midwood.
You're not going to get a regular old pepperoni pizza at The Pizza Peel (though they do have it on their menu); in fact, traditional 'za is not something you should even consider ordering.
With a variety of speciality sauces like Thai sweet chili, BBQ, buffalo, spicy chili, pesto, three cheese and chipotle hot tomato along with 13 specialty pizzas, opt for something unique and packs a punch.
But it gets better; The Pizza Peel not only boasts specialty pizzas on their menu, but have a whole separate secret menu chock full of more crazy flavor combinations in the form of specialty pizzas (they actually do a decent job of keeping it a secret, it took me 9 months to figure it out). I'm definitely not sorry for telling all of Charlotte about the secret menu here; what's the point if you can't order from it?
My favorite Peel combination is a secret menu specialty, The Godfather, with an olive oil base, prosciutto, roasted red pepper spinach, cheese and a balsamic spiral. Get some red sauce on the side for crust dipping and wash everything down with a local beer from their impressive, rotating craft beer list and you'll also be in pizza heaven.
The Pizza Peel and Intermezzo are basically tied in a dead heat for spot two in Pizza Midwood, but since this is a rankings situation, The Pizza Peel barely edges Intermezzo out for an extremely close third place.
What Intermezzo lacks in craft beer selection they make up for in executing classic combinations almost perfectly, a cozy atmosphere and excellent delivery service.
Their space on the corner of 10th and Central is warm and welcoming; making it the perfect spot to cozy up and tuck into a large pie with homemade, hand tossed crust, plenty of mozzarella, and an abundance of fresh toppings.
Intermezzo guarantees fresh ingredients, and they mean it; they don't have a freezer on site.
My personal preference is the Intermezzo Supreme, featuring a merry medley of Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, onion, tomatoes, green peppers, black olives (what can I say, I like a pie with a lot going on); but runner up is the Chicken Florentine, an homage to the Italian chicken and spinach dish in pizza form (pure genius).
If you're not in the mood for pizza (how could you not be?) their classic Serbian dishes are comforting and delicious, and they make a mean batch of ravioli.
Bringing up the rear is the oldest kid on the block, Fuel Pizza.
While I feel a little bit bad about ranking this Charlotte institution dead last, their pizza resembles something edible and delicious only when it's after 2am and I'm a few beers in.
A stop at Fuel is clutch after an evening of drinking at my favorite Plaza Midwood watering holes; a slice with gooey, hot cheese is just the ticket to feeling somewhat human in the morning.
But you won't find me at Fuel during daylight hours; their flimsy, greasy slices aren't on par with the quality pizza you can enjoy at three other places less than a mile away.
Chrissie Nelson is a public defender by day and a food blogger by night. Read about her foodventures, restaurant reviews and other Charlotte musings at offtheeatenpathblog.com.