Back in 2011 I had the pleasure to visit to A & A Pagliai’s Pizza in Iowa City [see blog post], a family-run pizzeria that serves nothing but pizza; no sandwiches, pasta, breadsticks, or even a side-salad. Just pizza. Despite what some people may consider as inflexible, I found the simplicity refreshing and the pizza exemplary.
In Central Iowa, Pagliai's has locations in Grinnell and Johnston. But unlike Iowa City, these pizzerias do offer such superfluous Italian fare as listed above, along with calzones, and cheese and garlic breads. But how does the pizza fare to their more Spartan cousin?
At Pagliai's Pizza in Johnston at 5312 Merle Hay Road, I ordered up a 12-inch Pagliai's Special with Italian sausage, onion, and green pepper. The housemade sausage is mild in spice, offers a nice chew, and is plentifully distributed along with the other toppings.
The crust is cracker thin, crispy, and sturdy, with a light golden hue on the underside. Keeping dinner simple I also ordered a Tossed Salad of mixed greens, a smattering of red cabbage, carrot, red onion, cherry tomato, croutons, with a decent house Ranch dressing.
As far as I can recollect the pizza is very similar to the one I enjoyed in Iowa City three years back. Des Moines suffers no shortage of thin and crispy pizzas; its by far the most popular style in these parts. I'd gladly return to Pagliai's in Johnston given another opportunity, if at least for something else other than pizza. I do like grinders and cavatelli, just a few of the non-pizza items on their relatively expansive menu.