Reservoir Tavern is one of those places that gets a lot of press in newspapers and great word-of-mouth from the locals. After having John Conklin and Paulie Gee say good things about it, I've been meaning to go for months. I finally bit the bullet and got a take out pie.
I literally just finished inhaling six slices, and, while I might feel a bit different after I've thought about it a bit, here are my initial thoughts.
The kitchen is entirely out of view, so I can't really comment on bake time, stretching technique, or dough appearance. The crumb was moist, chewy and bready, almost like a good baguette. The thickness factor, as most reviews point out, is a little thick for typical New York style, but, because of the baguette quality, this didn't offend me as much as it normally would.
Have you ever seen an older dog attempt to bury it's 'business?' It means well, but that poo isn't ever getting buried. This pizza is permeated with good intentions, but most of the execution misses the mark. In all fairness, I did go on a Saturday night at 7:30, and it was so busy, I waited 45 min. for a take out pie. Still, though, I found a few features very frustrating. The oregano was centered in a circle about 1.5 inches in diameter– worse than any oregano toss that I've ever seen at pizza town, and they are pretty egregious offenders. The Romano was equally unevenly tossed. The three bites that actually contained Romano were amazing. The rest, not as much.
Other then the thickness factor, this is a close relative to pizza town and Pepe's– an incredibly simple approach. A tomato only sauce, mozz, Romano. Unlike the legends, though, who use tomatoes that are naturally sweet and delicious, these tomatoes are both a little tart and a little bitter. The whole pizza had a bit of a bitter quality. I think part of this was a smokiness imparted by a dirty oven, something that I generally appreciate, but, in this instance, tasted off– like the musty flavor of rancid flour.
As critical as I'm sounding, for this area, this is pretty good pizza. On a scale from 1 to 10, if pizza town is an 8 and the rest of the places are 4s, then I might go as high as a 5.5. As much as I was frustrated by certain features, I have to give it props for being unique and not being the same cookie cutter garbage everyone else is putting out.
It won't be any time soon, but I look forward to a return trip during a period that isn't so frantic and that I can hopefully get a pie made with a little more TLC. I am still camera–less, but if someone wants to see what these pizzas look like, the pizza I got tonight was a carbon copy of the pizza pictured in this Adam Kuban review from 3 years ago:http://slice.seriouseats.com/images/20100816-rt-plain.jpghttp://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2010/08/boonton-nj-solid-pizza-at-bevacquas-the-reservoir-tavern.html