I’d been looking forward to Uncle Maddio’s opening at Northshore Town Center, primarily because I’m a pizza nut. However, I did manage to wait more than a week before I stormed their doors for a rare solo dinner outing.
Uncle Maddio’s is a little different than other pizza places in the respect that they take the same fast-casual approach to pie making that places like Moe’s and Salsarita’s take with Mexican cuisine. They custom-make your pizza in front of you, allowing you to add ingredients in whatever proportions suit your fancy.
They also seem to be emphasizing freshness in their products. For example, they use locally grown vegetables that are delivered daily (including organic spinach and field greens); their salad dressings are homemade; their meatballs and sausages are hand-made; and they offer more than 20 gluten-free options, including made-from-scratch dough.
For those going freelance on the pizza assembly, you first choose from traditional, whole wheat or gluten-free dough, choose from one of six different sauces (including buttermilk ranch, herb pesto and spicy Buffalo), then pick from among seven cheeses and dozens of meat and veggie toppings. You can go Italian freaky with ingredients like zucchini, roasted corn, mandarin oranges, jerk chicken, grilled Angus steak and roasted turkey.
I actually wanted to try one of Uncle Maddio’s 11 signature pizzas. Main-ingredient options range from steak and blue cheese to Portabello mushrooms and pesto to Buffalo chicken. I was intrigued by the Spicy Italian, made with tomato-basil sauce, mozzarella, spicy Italian sausage, red onions, mushrooms, banana peppers and fresh basil. I got the nine-incher ($7.99), although there are 12- and 16-inch crusts for larger parties.
The menu also features eight signature salads served with flatbread ($7.49) as well as seven toasted paninis ($6.99). For the sake of thoroughness, I ordered the Turkey Bacon Cheddar panini, featuring the namesake ingredients plus lettuce, tomato and chipotle ranch dressing. The personable young lady at the register also suggestively sold me on a homemade chocolate chip cannoli, and I caved.
Pies take about six minutes to bake, and another very courteous employee brought my order to my booth in the aesthetically pleasing retro-modern-style dining area.
As for the pizza, I was immediately gung-ho about the generously added topping combination on the Spicy Italian. The sausage was distinctive, as were the banana peppers and basil. The crust is on the thin and chewy side and struck me as being similar to a pita-style crust. But the overall package was delicious and satisfying.
I took a few bites of the panini while it was still hot and thought it was a real winner too. The cool lettuce and tomato worked well with the hot-and-savory turkey, bacon and gooey cheddar cheese. The chipotle ranch dressing was the figurative icing on the cake. And finally, I loved the cannoli with its firm, crusty shell and thick, creamy, chocolate chippy filling.
I think Uncle Maddio’s has a good formula going here. Between the exceedingly customizable pizzas, hearty paninis, friendly and accommodating service, and their commitment to fresh, homemade ingredients, I think this chain can find a place among the upper crust of the pizza world.
Uncle Maddio’s Pizza Joint
Food: 4 stars (out of five)
Address: 2052 Town Center Blvd.
Hours: 4 p.m.-midnight, Tuesdays-Thursdays; 4 p.m.-3 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays
Beer service only
Bottom Line: Pizza lovers should at least take this new Northshore Town Center pizzeria out for a spin.
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!