Went to Pala this Saturday for to try out the pizza I had been hearing about over the past week or so.
I can't remember what the place was before this but it was really spacious, with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows facing the street. I noticed that the windows were attached to a garage door mechanism so that in the summer they will probably open up (I've seen this before at Cafeteria, I think.)There were two and four-tops in the main seating area and then a larger table for groups further towards the back.
Anyway, the food! They sell pizza by the foot, which I think is a little contrived seeing that they won't (yet) sell you a 1/2 foot of a pizza. Why not just say, one pizza = $15? Several of the tables next to us asked about this, and hopefully Pala will change this no 1/2 foot policy. There were two of us and we had:
fava bean salad- this was really nice and simple. Greens with room temp fava beans that looked liked they had been sauteed topped with shavings of cheese (the name of which escapes me, sorry). The dressing was an oil and vinegar type. Was great way to start the meal, since the menu said pizzas take about 30 to cook in the oven.
We got two pizzas: the pumpkin w/ panchetta and scamorza cheese and roasted yellow and red peppers with mozzarella. There are 8 pieces per pie and they are formed in a long oval shape so the pieces come out sqaure-ish. We liked each pizza a lot and couldn't decide on our favorite. The pepper one was a bit more savory, but the pumpkin had its own merits. The much talked about crust was excellent, but not as thin as I think it had been hyped to be--it was very airy and crisp though. We couldn't finish all the food- had two pieces leftover which we got wrapped up. Maybe next time we will just order two pizzas and no salad or something to that effect.
It was a little more expensive than I had hoped to spend on lunch. Our total bill was about $45 not including tip. We didn't have any liquor athough the wine list had lot of Italian wines and the glasses ran about $7-9.
Some issues. This place is clearly getting its sea legs. At the tables next to us, the waiter kept apologizing to the couple about how long it was taking to get their second pizza (maybe it was finally decided that for tables ordering two pizzas they would be bought out together on a bigger "Pala", like they did with our order). Also, even though orders are cooked to order, there was a display by the register/kitchen area with whole pies seemingly ready to go. I don't think they sell by the slice yet, but this is what it appeared to be, even though the pizza was just sort of standing there, not being consumed.
I didn't really like their "signature" plates on which we were supposed to place our pizza slices. They seemed to be made out of the same wood as the pizza boards themselves, but were very hard to cut on and the knives left marks on the wood. Interestingly, for the salad we were given "real" plates (ceramic/stoneware or whatnot). I wonder how cost-effective the wooden plates will be if they are all marked up by knives and forks and I also wonder how sanitary this is.
The place was very well staffed, with some waiters better than others- maybe some were in training? This is very forgivable and understandable, at least for me. There was a small problem w/ our bill, but it was fixed (charged for something we didn't order: a Diet Coke at $2.50 a pop (for one of the 8oz bottles!), whoa!).
In the end though, really nice pizza and salad, good flavors, lots of options. As said before, this place will learn and hopefully fix quickly what needs to be changed and or improved, but we will likely go back.