Last weekend I finally got the chances to try 2 pizza places that I'd been interested in: Ron's Pizza Villa
in Fort Atkinson, and Holi Cannoli
just north of Elkhorn in the Lauderdale area.
Pizza Villa is located in a storefront on the edge of downtown.
It's not very big, with 5 booths and a couple of tables in the center of the room.
The story is that a WWII veteran learned pizzamaking in New York and brought the knowledge to Wisconsin in the 1950s and passed it along. I found the pizza to be pretty good, with the crust being firm but not crisp except at the edges, the sauce flavorful but not too sweet, and the cheese lightly browned. Of the meats I preferred the locally-sourced pepperoni, which wasn't too greasy, too spicy, or too bland, but the sausage was good, too.
Pizza Villa opened in 1966 and was at one time part of a 3-store chain, but the other locations closed 20 years ago.
I've been aware of Holi Cannoli for a couple of years now but as it's 40 miles from my house I just hadn't gotten over there. Naturally, when we went there Sunday night a detour added another 22 miles to our trip because I didn't think to bring along a map.
The restaurant is in what was once a house, but I don't know if the building still does double duty or not.
There are no windows in the dining room and the lights were pretty low so I wasn't able to get an interior shot, but it has that traditional "restaurant feel". People talking quietly at their tables, Frank Sinatra in the background...you get the idea.
The soup of the day was pasta e fagioli and I was surprised when Kathy suggested we order some, since she doesn't like bean soups. However, when the cups were delivered to the table she told me that she'd forgotten about the beans and wouldn't have ordered it otherwise.
Ah, but sometimes things work out! The soup was excellent and we both finished our servings, and had we not had a pizza on the way I could've easily ordered a loaf of bread and more soup for dinner as the pasta and beans were tender without being mushy and the broth was thick and well-seasoned.
But the real treat was the pizza, as I can honestly say that it was the best I've had in a long time. The crust is extremely thin (3 or fewer toppings are suggested) and the high heat cooks it cracker-crisp, the sauce has a nice tomato flavor, and the less-is-more approach with the cheese means it browns nicely without turning into a goo-fest. Don't get me wrong, I love a cheesy pizza but this one was fantastic because it wasn't
cheesy; if I had to guess I'd say it was half the weight of a typical 16-inch pizza, and unlike usual we had no leftovers. A perfect example of quality over quantity.
Of course, the edges were nicely charred.
This time I preferred the sausage to the pepperoni although I was surprised I noticed its fennelly-sausagey flavor, given that I was shoveling it in as fast as I could. Did I mention that I really liked the pizza? In fact, I liked it so much that I'm beginning to doubt my own judgment, so somebody else needs to check it out and tell me if I've lost my pizza marbles. Tell me when and I'll try to be there.
Oh, and we did order a couple of excellent made-to-order cannoli (cannolis?) to go but the trip home wasn't exactly kind to their appearance, so no photo.
1 weekend and 2 good but very different pizzas. Works for me!