Luigi’s, Syracuse (SouthWest)

Luigi's, Syracuse (SouthWest)Our little group from the office is pretty understanding. I always remind them that if you go out for pizza with me, you’re taking your chances. Indeed, we’ve had some memorable highs, and unforgettable lows. And rather than just eating, I pick the pizza apart, analyze, and encourage them to do the same. Don’t just tell me you like it or not, tell me WHY! But they don’t seem to mind. If a few weeks have passed since our last pizza trip, they keep prodding me to set up another!

“Normal” people have a favorite place and they keep returning, but our group is always going somewhere different. How do we decide where to go? We’ve generally been brainstorming based on personal experience or the recommendation of a friend. Table service is a plus, because it is more convenient for a group. Some other possible factors, not all of them completely serious:
1) High ranking on UrbanSpoon;
2) Restaurant in business a long time;
3) Owner and/or namesake on premises;
4) Name ends in “o” or “i”.

Luigi's, Syracuse (SouthWest)I checked UrbanSpoon for the top 10 list of restaurants which serve pizza, and noticed that one of the few I hadn’t reviewed was Luigi’s, in Syracuse’s Valley neighborhood (across from Gannon’s Isle Ice Cream). Founded in 1954, Luigi is still the owner and proprietor, and he is usually present and involved in the operation. So, with high hopes, we made the trek to Luigi’s for lunch. Luigi greeted us at the front door, and ushered us into one of the dining rooms. We arrived right at noon and this particluar dining room was empty, but it quickly filled. Our server was prompt, attentive, and experienced. We went with our typical order – one with everything, and one with half pepperoni.

These pizzas didn’t look like anything we’ve seen before in Syracuse. Although they appeared thick, they really aren’t Chicago deep dish style. The crust was what I would call medium-thick, 1/2″ to 3/4″. Baked in a pan, the crust was rather stiff (didn’t droop much when picked up), crisp at the edge, and had the usual fried dough characteristics of pan baked pizza. I don’t think it was a pizza shell, but one person in our group said it was similar to school lunch pizza crust.

Luigi's, Syracuse (SouthWest)The cheese half of one pizza looked like a dull, spongy, yellow mat. I think most pizza restaurants use one of two or three commonly sold pizza cheeses (Grande, Empire, etc.), but this cheese did not taste familiar – nor good. Both the taste and texture were strange in a way that defies explanation. One of our group said it was like “linoleum.” The mushrooms were canned, but the rest of the toppings (onions, peppers, pepperoni, sausage) were very good, and very abundant.

Luigi's, Syracuse (SouthWest)Finally, the sauce. Given this restaurant’s pedigree as a long time operation run by the same man, I was expecting a tasty sauce; any decent Italian restaurant should have an excellent sauce. Alas, the sauce on this pizza was seriously overcooked and very bitter. It had a brown tinge, rather than a fresh red color, and essentially no tomato taste. Instead, it had very strong and overpowering bitter and acidic characteristics. We couldn’t ignore it, because it really dominated every bite. Was this an accident, a pot left on the stove for far too long? It doesn’t matter – it never should have ended up on our pizza. And before you criticize me for making such a big deal about the sauce, you weren’t there, and those that WERE agreed with me.

Luigi's, Syracuse (SouthWest)As the meal drew to a close, I asked around the table for each person’s ranking on the Pizza Geek scale of 0 to 5 slices. There were three at 2.5, and one 1.5. The general consensus was that the toppings saved the day from complete disaster; there was nothing else positive to say about the pizza. The service and the atmosphere were fine. If I focus on the terribly burned sauce, I lean toward 2.0. If I give some credit for the tasty toppings, I lean toward 2.5. I feel somewhat badly about giving a poor score to someone who has spent his entire adult life (since before I was born) feeding people, but I have to be honest about what we were served. Since 2.5 falls in line with several from the group, that’s what we’ll use for the official Pizza Geek rating.

UPDATE (Sep 9, 2011) – After much thought and discussion with others in the group, I have decided to change the rating to 2.0.  It really was that bad.

Summary – Pros: tasty toppings. Cons: horribly burned sauce, cheese like linoleum, “school lunch” crust.

What do YOU think? What has been your experience at Luigi’s? Did we have a bad day at Luigi’s, and they’re really better than that? Click the comment link and tell us about it!

Crust: **
Sauce: *
Cheese: **
Toppings: ****
Bang/Buck: ***

Luigi's Pizza & Italian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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About pizzageek

Perhaps being an engineer makes me too picky, but I'm in search of really GREAT pizza in Syracuse.
This entry was posted in 13207 - Syracuse (SouthWest), delivery, eat in, medium crust, slices rating: 2.0, table service. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Luigi’s, Syracuse (SouthWest)

  1. KMR says:

    Should have stuck with the harsher rating. If a pizza place can’t get the basics right, why elevate the rating because they got the easiest part of the pizza correct (the toppings)? The basics matter more, because they’re going to be a part of each pizza that establishment serves, rather than the toppings which will inevitably vary by customer tastes to begin with.

    On a related note, the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles has an equally awful Margherita pizza.

    • pizzageek says:

      Hi KMR,

      Thank you for the comments. I think being placed in the bottom 13% of all my reviews is plenty low. I’ve even had owners contact me after they received a 4.0 because they thought that was a “failure.” It’s all a subjective thing, and sometimes I’m swayed by one thing or another when settling on a score.


  2. Bob C says:

    Luigi’s has some of the worse pizza ever. I was told that they do use some form of a shell. Pizza shells are a thing of the 1970’s, not 2011. I wish I knew you were going there, as I would have told you to save your money. You should try Cam’s in Camillus next. They are very good. Daniella’s Steak House is alo pretty good.

  3. abc says:

    I agree w/KMR. I left a comment on another review saying how the ratings didn’t make much sense. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy your reviews, but I still don’t get the ratings. For horribly burned sauce and linoleum cheese to still get a 2.5 doesn’t make sense? To me, it just seems ‘average’ and clearly this pizza was below average. Even a 2 wouldn’t make me respond to this, but to give it an average grade doesn’t make much sense at all. Like I said, I think you’re too nice of a guy on the pizza you don’t really like. Only ten reviews are less than 2.5, and only two are 2 or 1. There are tons of reviews on here where it seems you don’t even like the pizza and you still give it 3 slices. Also, I’m almost 100% Luigi’s does use shells. On a side note, my favorite pizza in Syracuse is Cosmos and Pavone’s but it looks like you got that covered. Please don’t take this negatively, I like the reviews….it’s just the grading.

  4. pizzageek says:

    I think that you and KMR raise some good points. Maybe part of the problem is that I had to start assigning scores when I had only tried a few places. Now that I’ve done 70 or so, it is a little clearer what the range is, and what “average” is.

    Perhaps a complete review and re-score is in order.


  5. Anon says:

    Just recently found your blog, and it’s great, I love reading the reviews which helps us decide on where to try next. Keep up the great work.

    I agree with your review. My wife and I recently tried Luigi’s pizza and were not impressed in the slightest. It brought me back to the cafeteria pizza in high school that was not good at all.

    Thanks again!

  6. Denise says:

    I have been a loyal Luigi’s customer since 1980. I realy think that you must have caught them on a bad day. I have NEVER had a bad meal there. In fact, now that I live just outside NYC, I drive more than 4 hours for Luigi’s garlic pizza twice a year, and fish fry more often than that. I would encourage you to go back and try it again…maybe try the fish?

    • pizzageek says:

      It wasn’t just a bad day, it was a horrendously TERRIBLE bad day! If I suggest going back there, the office gang will put me on pizza probation again, like the time when I brought Dominos into the office.

  7. twodales says:

    We live in Boston and when visiting family in Syracuse we bring back three large sausage pizzas. Your experience just does not coincide with ours. Sorry you had a bad experience but would go back there in a heartbeat for a great pizza especially in the pizza desert that exists in Massachusetts.

    • pizzageek says:

      Well, to each his own. Based on what I had there, I just can’t picture wasting the gas to drive it across the street, much less to Boston! I hate being so negative, but it was AWFUL! Yes, I will eventually try it again.

  8. joyce lavoie says:

    We went to Luigis on a Sat. There was 7 in our party. We ordered their square pizza and found it to be very good. Not one of the items that you said was a problem was present. Being of Italian decent I can tell you we make our own from Lyncourt Bakery’s fresh dough and with my families 25 years experience in the pizza business no one in Syracuse can touch home made. Actually I find just cheese pizza boring and tasteless no matter who makes it. Just what pizza in Syracuse do like. Our family went on our own pizza marathon and every week for 6 months tried a different place,sometimes twice a week and found most of them not memorable. Skimpy toppings, skimpy cheese, tasteless sauce, uncooked dough, burnt bottoms, folding crusts ect. Am I saying Luigis was the best not really but if the things that you say were wrong I would say I myself would have been unhappy. There are many people who love their pizza and am sure some that experienced the same as you. The best way is to try it again yourself and see.

    • pizzageek says:

      I don’t know if I could bring myself to try Luigi’s again, it was that bad. I will concede that it may perhaps have been a rare bad day, but to go THAT far off the mark is unforgiveable. I still have pizza lunches with some of the guys that were with me at Luigi’s that day, and they STILL talk about how bad it was, years later. It left THAT much of an impression! It is really hard to put that aside and try again.

      One other thing – I strongly disagree about cheese pizza. I have had some incredible cheese pizza, where the flavor of the three basic ingredients are DELICIOUS in the way they combine together in your mouth! To be fair, I’ve also had more than my share of TERRIBLE cheese pizza, but don’t discount the beauty of a properly-made cheese pizza!

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