In our neighborhood, if you want "real pizza" for takeout, your options are Matchbox (see our post here) and Ella's Wood Fired Pizza. Though we like Matchbox, I just didn't want to wade through the crowds to get my order so I suggested we try Ellas's instead. I've had numerous lunch-sized pizzas from Ella's and generally find it to be like a less fantastic 2 Amy's.
I called Ella's and was immediately put on hold . . . for 5 MINUTES! I finally hung up and called back and someone mumbled "Ella's hold" to which I exclaimed "NO!" but was put on hold anyway. I was about to give up again when someone came back on the line to take my order. I couldn't hear anything he was saying over the din in the background, so I just shouted my order at him. Ella and I were not off to a good start but I was hungry. About 20 minutes later we ventured down 9th Street to Ella's to pick up our pies. If you're going to eat in, be aware that there is usually a wait and really nowhere to do so. Your best bet is to try to squeeze in at the bar and order a drink while waiting for your table.
I squeezed my way to the host stand but it was empty. I caught the eye of an employee and asked him where I could get my takeout order. He went to the back and came out quickly with my two pizzas. We ordered two large pizzas so we could have leftovers for lunches and for guests who would be arriving at the airport in a few hours.
Our first selection was the Di Mare described on the menu as "shrimp, pesto, roasted red peppers, and pine nuts." We were surprised that the pizza didn't have any cheese on it. I guess if it doesn't describe cheese as one of the pizza toppings, it doesn't come with cheese. Somehow that seems to go against the rules of the pizza universe but we went with it. Despite the initial awkwardness, this pizza oozed so much flavor that we didn't miss the cheese. This would be a good choice for a stomach that isn't best buddies with dairy.
Next, for the reheating for leftovers option, we chose the classic margherita pizza (buffalo mozzarella, basil, tomato sauce, olive oil, and sea salt). Ella's gets extra credit for putting the basil in a separate container so it wouldn't wilt or get soggy on the ride home. Good thinking! The olive oil and sea salt jazzed this one up beyond a normal cheese pie. My one quibble about both pizzas is that the crust was cracker thin. I've always loved the pillowy crust on Ella's small (10") pizzas. I think stretching their pies to a large causes the crust to suffer. On the Di Mare, the crust was so thin and cracker like that it was ridiculously hard to chew the next day when reheated for leftovers.
Though Ella and I didn't start off as friends, my stomach told me to get over it and play nice. Ella makes a tasty pie (better served in the 10 inch variety) but it doesn't come cheap. These two large pizzas set us back nearly $60. We were able to stretch these out into several meals which made the pricey pies a bit easier to swallow.
Second Thoughts from B
In light of J's challenges with the ordering process, I was fortunate that my interaction with Ella's was limited to the eating portion of the night. Mostly this involved the Di Mare. For those with short memories, that is the cheeseless shrimp pesto pizza. Normally I'd talk about what was on the pie but like J, I'm more interested in what was missing. Cheese? Sure, no cheese to be found. But more importantly, where was the sauce? This was a job for NCSI. No, not Special Agent Gibbs and his team at NCIS but B and J of NCSI: The No Cheese and Sauce Investigators.
The first case was the lack of cheese. This one seemed easy. It wasn't listed on the menu, so perhaps its absence was by design. If the goal was to recreate shrimp and pesto pasta (a personal favorite), then no cheese was necessary. Case closed. Cheese was never involved.
But what about sauce? Primary suspect: pesto. It was listed on the rap sheet but where did it go? Pesto's fingerprints were all over this pie. You could see bits of basil and smell the garlic. However, the pizza was completely dry. No moisture, not even oil. What pizza doesn't have oil... Wait, that's it! Oil! What happens when you put oil on bread and bake it thoroughly? You make crackers and that is exactly what the crust tasted like (as evidenced by my jaw muscles that could now grace the cover of Muscle & Fitness magazine).
Case closed, the pizza was baked to death. Whether this was premeditated or not isn't relevant. Either way, the punishment for this crime is the same. B and J will be spending a lot more time at Matchbox.