No Mona Lisa.
Venuto’s Old World Pizza – Blackwood, NJ
Cherrywood Plaza – Next to Starbucks
1486 Blackwood-Clementon Rd, Gloucester Twp, NJ 08012
Website: Check it out
The world of carry-out pizza is cutthroat. You’re up against a slew of competitors, suppliers who love to jack up the price of pizza staples, and a public that is severely waning in the loyalty department as their pockets get hit by our thin-crust economy. So what does Venuto’s do in the last year? Reproduce a bunch of stores like bunnies and try to buck the trend. According to some older online sources, the owners expected to launch 40 of them. We, of course, encourage some caution on the road of mass construction.
The Venuto’s we visited is next to a Starbucks in a new-ish strip mall in Blackwood. They share a small parking area with a tmobile store and a haircut place, so it’s usually a tight fit on weekends provided you’re categorically opposed to parking about 50 feet further in an adjacent (and gigantic) parking lot. You’ll know Venuto’s from the silly photoshopped Mona Lisa portrait with sauce on her mouth. To each his own, no doubt, but I still prefer the ‘Noid. Who’s with me?
There’s really not enough room to comfortably eat in the restaurant so you might as well order out. We used a coupon from a mailer for two large (16″) pizzas for $22.99, although it’s possible to get that price just about anywhere else. We selected a regular cheese (‘Michelangelo’) and a second with half pepperoni and half sausage. We called ahead and although there was a massive line out the door, our pizza was ready on time. We noticed they’re also (for some reason) in the ice cream business, with a bunch of signage outside the building for good humor bars and the like. Hardly ‘old world’ Italy.
The pizza was hot and we opted for the traditional crust as opposed to the super-thin crust they also offer. The plain-jane variety was pretty heavy on the sauce, not enough cheese, and had a ‘generic’ flavor. The crust, ordered ‘well-done’, was just dark enough for a good crunch without being burnt. The pizza would have been amazing if they sliced it up and sold them as breadsticks, but as far as a ‘pizza’ went it was fairly underwhelming. The pepperoni and sausage were both a plus, with rich flavors picking up the dull sauce. To me, it was simply adequate and unless I was just going to mooch off of whomever was ordering (as was the case this time), I wouldnt order from them again myself.
Now to be fair, I really want to try their other stuffz like their sandwiches and fancier-variety pizzas that look oh-so-good in the brochure. I’d love feedback on whether they are worthwhile enough to come back for. In the meantime, though, I’m left with a feeling that Venuto’s is just another pizza place with an average pie and average pricing. Great if they’re close to you, but otherwise there’s really no incentive for me to go back.
Guru’s Score: 2.5 Chews
Subjective rating: Yawn.
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