Monday, January 09, 2023

Underground Pizza Company

the Woodlands pizza from @Underground Pizza Company
I first heard about Underground Pizza Company and "Detroit-style" pizza sometime in 2020. At the time, UPC was functioning as a ghost kitchen establishment in Mount Washington. Despite being about 2 miles from my home, we never made it there. By the time we were ready to give UPC a try, however, they had made the move to a real brick-and-mortar shop at Power Plant Live. Unfortunately for everyone involved, we weren't going to pay for downtown parking just to eat pizza, no matter how good it was. Only recently did I realize there was another UPC location in Towson. Clearly I have my finger on the pulse of the restaurant industry these days...not. 

What's Detroit-style pizza? It's rather like Sicilian-style in that it's square or rectangular and made with a thick, bread-like crust. It's topped with brick cheese and mozzarella, which go on first and is spread to the edges so that it caramelizes into a lacy brown crispness as it melts against the sides of the deep metal pan in which it is baked. Toppings, like pepperoni, come next, with sauce applied in stripes as if it were just another topping. The resulting pies are hearty and satisfying.

the Roni Boy@UPC
We decided to get carry-out from the Towson UPC rather than to dine in. My brother was joining us, so we ordered three different half pies--each about 10" x 7" and yielding 4 slices. The Roni Boy was topped with the type of small-diameter pepperoni slices that tend to form cups when they meet the heat of a pizza oven, two strips of UPC's signature red sauce, and a bit of parm. The Woodlands included a good amount of thyme-roasted fancy mushrooms like hen of the woods, oyster, and beech, over mozzarella and Gruyere cheeses, topped with two stripes of red sauce, and parm. The Nonna included crumbles of spicy Italian sausage, caramelized onion, vodka sauce, and fennel pollen. The online menu doesn't mention the kind of cheese, but I imagine it's the classic brick/mozz combo. We also ordered the Old Bay Garlic Parm fries.

The verdict?


the Nonna @UPC
The crust was chewy, with a medium bubble structure that comes from dough with a high moisture content. Focaccia-esque, but not. The pizzas weren't piping hot when we got them home, so they likely had sat for a few minutes while awaiting our arrival. Still, the caramelized cheese part of the crust was crispy. Both the pepperoni pizza and the Nonna had a nice hit of heat, but not so much that it would turn off those with delicate palates. The red sauce was sweet and herby, and reminded me a bit of the sauce at Squire's, which endeared UPC pizza to me that much more. We loved that the mushroom pizza featured a selection of fancy mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms, etc., have more interesting textures than the standard buttons or creminis, and a lot more flavor, too. The Nonna pizza was tasty, but the onions were far from caramelized and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they were raw before the pie went into the oven. Also, the vodka sauce was excellent and I wanted more than just a drizzle. Didn't notice the fennel pollen at all. I think our next order must include the pie called "The Destroyer" which has pepperoni and two stripes of vodka sauce.

Good so far. Then there were the fries. Womp womp.

Billed as a pound of fries topped with Old Bay, garlic, and parm, they were just plain not good. The menu doesn't claim the potatoes are hand-cut, so at least that lie wasn't told. Not only were the fries flabby and uninteresting, but also I found no evidence of either Old Bay or garlic. There were tiny nubbins of something adhering to the potatoes, which may have been the parm. Or they may have been the abhorrent flour-tossed fries that are studded with hard bits that I think of as shrapnel but might be more accurately compared to pills on an old sweater. Not pleasant in either case. If they hadn't cost $8, I might not be complaining as strenuously. The pizzas were $16, and while that seems expensive, they were certainly a better value than the fries.

Overall, we enjoyed the pizza and will definitely be going back for more. Maybe we'll try the arancini or the wings, but probably not. 

* Any products in this post that are mentioned by name may have been provided to Minxeats by the manufacturer. However, all opinions belong to Minxeats. Amazon links earn me $! Please buy!

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