Some people say that even when Pizza is bad, it’s still pretty good. But, in my experience, this is sometimes brutally untrue. It’s hard to get that perfect combination of crispy yet doughy crust, flavorful sauce, and well-prepared toppings. Lilly’s pizza has come close (Tony loves their crust), Mellow Mushroom was a bitter disappointment (although it’s a prime people-watching spot), but there hasn’t been a pizza place that has wowed me. With that said, I was bracing myself when we went to Moonlight Pizza last weekend…
First of all, let me say that I love the location, it’s close to downtown without swarms of people and the place itself is pretty cozy. There’s a large patio if you and some friends want to drink a nice brew in the warm weather. However, for good pizza, I’d eat in a shack. Heck, for good pizza, I would stare down rabid dogs, but the atmosphere was a bonus.
I had to try a cup of gazpacho, which was crisp, chilled, and fresh, with a good balance between the spicy peppers and cool cucumber. It was a little too cool outside, but I can definitely see ordering this throughout the summer when I want something tangy and refreshing.
But the main event was the pizza. Tony and I ordered “The Four Seasons,” 1/4 spinach and artichokes, 1/4 shiitake mushrooms and olives, 1/4 prosciutto and pinenuts, and 1/4 shrimp and tomatoes. It was hard to choose among all of the different pies, but I think The Four Seasons best exemplifies what’s so good about Moonlight Pizza; great ingredient, creativity, and spot-on execution. The toppings on each quarter were paired well and I have to admit, having shrimp on a pizza surprised me. The fresh herbs used throughout each quarter was a much-needed change from the copious amounts of dried oregano that is scattered all over other pizza places.
What really won me over though was the crust. A hand-tossed pizza cooked well is a thing of beauty and Moonlight Pizza does this well. The crust is the perfect mix of crisp and chewy, you can also tell the dough was fresh. I’m not sure what they use to bake their pizzas, but it made me want to run back and hug the chef.
There’s plenty of pizza places in Raleigh if you want a quick and easy, greasy slice. But if you want something with a little more imagination, Moonlight Pizza Company is the place to be. With summer rapidly approaching, I can’t wait to stake a spot on the patio.