06 Jun 2009 @ 4:43 AM 

The Omaha Critic and I (his oh so critical wife!) are always on the lookout for good pizza.  I’m not sure if we’ve mentioned it in these parts, but we have a large brood.  While the youngest isn’t quite up to chowing down on a good slice of pie yet, the rest are highly appreciative of any place that will serve them tasty melted cheese and pepperoni. 

Sadly, I will admit we find most of the major pizza chains lacking.  Sure, they will do in a pinch, and some of them have some fairly cheap deals that allow us to feed our gang without going broke, but they just serve pizza with no character. 

In hopes of finding pizza WITH character, the Critic and I went AWOL and tried Pudgy’s Pizza near 168th and Harrison.  We showed up around 7:30 on a Friday night to find the place busy, but with a table or two open. 

We grabbed a table, and I went up to the counter to place our order, which was for a 14″ Chicago Deep Dish with Pepperoni, Beef, Olives, and Mushrooms.  Yeah, The Critic is a purist and would have probably preferred straight up pepperoni or “The Works”, but *I* was the one ordering!  Had he noticed they served them, The Critic would also have liked to try their Chicago style hot dogs, but we will have to save that for another time.

The restaurant itself is unassuming.  The decor is obviously meant to bring Chicago to mind.  The joint itself isn’t fancy.  You order at the counter and get your own drinks.  But really?  You don’t need fancy in a pizza joint.  In a word, it’s comfortable.  Honestly, that’s perfect for a neighborhood pizza joint.

After a bit of a wait (it was Friday night, and they had a steady stream of business) our pizza was delivered to our table by the owner, along with paper plates, napkins, and plastic flatware.  Again, it’s unassuming.  But the pizza itself?  It was good.  The Omaha Critic and I have both spent some time in Chicago, and tried various pizza joints, including the famous Lou Malnotti’s.  I will say, it is not quite as deep, nor as saucy.  But it was still VERY good.  The crust was thick, but not doughy.  The toppings were plentiful and high quality.  They sprinkled the top with garlic salt or powder, which added a nice tang to the pizza.  All in all, it was a great pie. 

That character we were in search of?  It came in the form of Pudgy’s Pizza owner Phil “Pudgy” Cerra.   While it was our first time eating in the restaurant, we felt like we were somewhere we’d been many times before.  Pudgy stopped at our table several times to check on how we were doing, how the food was, and to make some suggestions for future visits based on how The Critic doctored his pizza (lots of red pepper!).  While this could be annoying if done by the wrong personality, it certainly wasn’t.  Pudgy is a very personable guy, and obviously has the drive it takes to make a great pizza joint work.

I can definitely say we’ll be going back, and taking our band of devils cherubs with us next time!

Plusses: The food itself – hearty, tasty, and plentiful.  The service – all of the employees were smiling and appeared to be having a great time!  We have to say the owner, Phil “Pudgy” Cerra was a big plus.  His personality brings a lot to the overall atmosphere of the place.  Also, the kitchen, which is visible from the counter where you order, is clean and appears to run very well.

Minuses:  They need a bigger location with more tables.  A jukebox would be nice (or some sort of music).  And if the pizza was about a half inch deeper, it would overtake any Chicago Deep Dish we’ve ever tried.

Overall Impression:  The pizza “friggin’ rocked” (The Omaha Critic’s exact words).  We were greatly impressed not only with the food, but with the owner’s great care and concern for all of his customers, and the great attention he paid to making sure everyone had a great experience.  If you’re in West Omaha, it’s definitely worth your time to get a great pizza.  Even if you’re not in West O?  It’s well worth the trek.  Pudgy’s Pizza.  Get some!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 06 Jun 2009 @ 04:48 AM

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