Food versus Food: Plain Cheese

You know the days: long, frustrating, and exhausting. And then you get home and realize that you can A) break your unproductive streak and make dinner or B) order in.

That's why we have Pizza. (hocofood@@@)

Not long ago, HowChow's food musings prompted some great suggestions for food fights. So I give you the first of what will probably be several faceoffs.... a pizza challenge!

To keep things simple, I focused on cheese pies for this round.

Which brings us to our contenders....

Contender #1: Large Cheese Pizza from Pudgie's Pizza in Clarksville.

A relative newcomer to the Howard County area, Pudgie's is a chain with a handful of locations in New York and one in Pennsylvania.  I'm not the first blogger to go on a quest for the orange box - HoCoRising has already ventured out to Pudgie's location, which is located at 12447 Clarksville Pike.

Pudgie's has tables and delivers (they take orders by phone or online), but I opted to pick up. I got myself (ok, well, not just myself) a large (17") pizza for $12.99. 

Large cheese pizza from Pudgie's in Clarksville.

My first impression when I opened the box was that I wished I had ordered extra cheese - but at $3.49/per on the large pie, toppings seemed really pricey. I liked that the pizza was cut into 12 smaller slices, and that the cheese that was there was browned and crisp in places. I'm also a fan of crust bubbles (see picture above, hopefully you know what I mean).

The crust - probably the most important part of the pizza for me - was browned and had a bit of a crispiness. It was coated with a light slick of grease that made the pizza taste awesome - kind of like a pan pizza from the Hut but with the lightness of a hand-tossed crust. The crust had a really pleasant flavor, too, like toasty bread.

There was a good amount of sauce on this pie, and that's generally my least favorite part, especially as Pudgie's tends toward the sweet side. But there was a nice sprinkling of seasoning (basil?) that gave the sauce a pop of flavor, especially when the pizza started to cool.

Pudgie's pizza (cheese) ended up being a tasty dinner for two (and subsequent lunch for one), which made me feel a little better about the price.

Fortunately, I can always eat pizza and I don't have to fit into a wedding dress for a while, which meant I still had appetite for...

Contender #2: Cheese pizza from Gateway Pizza & Subs in Elkridge.

Gateway Pizza and Subs serves up Pizza and Subs, but also Indian fare - and they deliver for orders over $9, perfect for a night when I was at home with the boys, was too tired to cook, and couldn't pick up. They're located at 6520 Waterloo Road. 

My order arrived early - less than 30 minutes, instead of the 45 I was quoted (I wasn't timing... I just knew how long I had left in an episode of Doctor Who). One medium cheese pizza (12") set me back $7.99 (but to compare price points, an extra large (16") is $10.99. Toppings are $1.20 and $1.70, respectively).

Tomato and Cheese pizza from Gateway in Elkridge. Pictured is a medium -
I downsized, since the dogs would not be sharing (they were disappointed).

I was really happy with the amount of cheese on this pizza - melty with little furrows where the sauce peeked through. I wished for a little more browning to give it more flavor, but there were some spots that got toasted enough so that was ok. 

The sauce was on the lighter side in terms of amount, as I normally like it, and it was... well... tomatoey. Very tomatoey. I didn't pick up on additional seasoning or herbs, just good honest tomato flavor (which.. I guess makes the pie true to name).

I loved the texture of the crust on the Gateway pizza. A commenter on HowChow described it as pillowy, and I can't think of a better word. The crust was light and doughy at the same time, with the air bubbles and fabulous texture of really good bread. In terms of flavor, it tasted rather doughy too - I think it could have used some additional flavoring like garlic or rosemary or basil. I ended up dipping it into some sauces (tamarind and chutney) that came with another item I'd ordered to punch up the flavor.

Gateway put up a solid pizza, with the perfect amount of cheese and a light, pleasant crust. 

The Decision: Full disclosure - when it comes to Pizza, I am a Trattoria fangirl. So I went in search of places I haven't been, and tried to approach the challenge with an open mind. Both Gateway and Pudgie's really delivered (ha..ha... yeah, sorry about that).  

I liked the crispiness and toastiness and even the grease on Pudgie's, along with the sprinkling of herbs in the sauce (which was great at offsetting the sweetness that can sometimes put me off). On the other hand, I loved the amount of cheese on Gateway's pizza, and the way they achieved an interesting crust-texture without grease. And while my initial reaction was that Pudgie's seemed expensive, when I looked at size/price comparison, the prices were similar.

After thinking about the two (and not thinking about how much pizza I've eaten in the last few days) I declare.... Pudgie's is the Winner!

Of course, Trattoria is still my pizza of choice.

Where do you call for your pizza fix? Where should I go for the sequel pizza challenge?  Tell me in the comments below!


  1. I am a fan of Tratoria Pizza as well. I think the only complaint I have is that it tends to be alittle salty, but since I am a fan of salt, it really isn't a complaint. I just have to be happy being a bit bloated after eating it.

    Great post.

  2. I e-mailed this to Jilly - we're totally going to check out Pudgie's once we're done with the detox. That pizza looked amazing! I love crispy cheese and crust bubbles. :)

  3. I'm totally a Trattoria fangirl as well! That being said, it's always good to have a few other options, especially since Trattoria doesn't deliver. Thanks for the post!

  4. I don't know, can you get past that name "Pudgie's" ?? I'd be self-conscious just walking in the door.

    Once I got my own pizza stone (and have a bread machine to make the crust), we don't go out much for pizza. With fresh basil and fresh mozzarella, it's hard to beat and easy to make. I hate to admit I do like a couple of Bertucci's individual ones though.

  5. Had no idea there was a Pudgie's in town now and am super excited to go for a visit. On my frequent roadtrips from my parents house outside NYC to my alma mater, St. Bonaventure Univ., we drove right thru Elmira where we'd make Pudgie's a welcomed pit stop for pizza. Also there was one located not far from the SBU campus at the time. Count me as Pudgie's fan. Never thought I'd see 'em again!

  6. Oh, I want some of that Pudgie's pizza! I don't like a lot of cheese, so based on your review, and the photos, I'd have to pass on Gateway's pizza.

    The Madlab Post