Much like the quest for the perfect burger, the perfect taco, and the perfect takeout chinese food, PIZZA is a mission for me. Coming from Gainesville where we have Satchel’s Pizza (or Satch’s if you are in the know), it’s hard to beat it. My first time at Satchel’s, we were sat next to a family from Jacksonville who drove all the way to Gainesville that day just for Satchel’s pies. Yeah – it’s that good. But living in Jacksonville means I need a new pizza haunt, and I especially need a good takeout pizza, because I’m pretty lazy on some nights. I’ve had a few pizzas around town – including V Pizza, Carmine’s, and Shiraz. And some have been great, some have been mediocre, and some have been crap. But Picasso’s on San Jose Blvd keeps me coming back repeatedly. (V Pizza, I’m coming back for round two, though, don’t worry!). Sure, it’s across town from me so we speed back to the house to eat it before it gets cold, but it’s definitely worth it.
You can eat in or get take out, but both options are just as busy as far as ordering or getting a table. If there are people hanging out at his place and lines at all hours, you know you found the right place. Inside, there are roughly 15-20 tables, and you can find a plethora of regulars there (usually families) on any given night. The waitstaff is beyond helpful and the to-go cashier and hostess are just as pleasant. They’ve also got a decent wine and beer selection to accompany you’re Italian grub.
Now – for the pizza. There are other items on the menu (and an impressive specials board)…your typical Italian fare…but the pizza is where it is at. You get the option of three kinds of pizza, but go for the St. Louis style. It’s unlike anything you’ve had before – a sauce that is rich, cheesy, and tomato-ey. And the pizza, although it will appear to be your typical thin crust, circular pie, is cut into squares. Strange to most, but that means the middle squares are ooey-gooey, and the outer pieces are crispy (perfect for dunking into ranch maybe?). They’ve also got your more comfortable NY Italian style, with a slightly thicker crust and a Mediterranean style which is more reminiscent of traditional, historical pizza (think fresh ingredients, olive oil, and garlic primarily – simplistic). But – those are unnecessary – as you’re going to want to get the St. Louis style no matter what.
Let’s turn to the toppings…because there are a lot of gourmet options if you want a DIY pie (note, although their online menu suggests Proscuitto de Parma, they don’t offer it on their pizzas anymore – I know, disappointment. But there are plenty of other amazing toppings to choose from). They tier their toppings by fanciness, so your “exotic mushroom melange” and pancetta will cost more than your average pepperoni. Then they’ve got their Signature Pizzas. DJ Snuggle Monster, as much as he tries not to, orders the Butcher’s Special everytime (your Meat Lover’s basically). It never fails him. With over 20 original pie recipes to choose from, there’s bound to be something for everyone. I’ve sampled the Seven Cheeser, and trust me, it’s everything a Cheese Hound could want. I made my own pizza last night with pepperoni, pancetta (the dark bits – they aren’t burnt!), and two types of cheeses. Delicious. I feel that I get their pancetta as a topping no matter the pizza, because it’s that amazing (and better than normal bacon on anything). The cheese is always perfectly melty, the crust just crisp enough in the center to hold up the toppings, and just crunchy enough on the outside for the break in topping overload.
If you decide to order out, either call in ahead of time (on slightly busy nights, its roughly a 40 minute wait) or go and get a glass of bear or wine while you wait. Otherwise, I’d definitely eat there. As much as I keep trying to sample other pizza in town on my life’s mission to find the best pie, Picasso’s is pretty hard to beat and pretty hard to talk myself out of ordering when I’m in the mood for pizza. In fact, I think there are some leftovers in the fridge calling my name right now…