By Stephen and Kate
There are only so many Montgomery things that you can honestly say you’d put up against similar offerings from any other town in the nation. This is not a criticism of Montgomery. It’s a wonderful place to live. But there are only so many things that you can brag about as “world class,” as in “I’ll put our X up against anybody’s.”
Tomatino’s (1036 East Fairview Ave.) is one such thing. You can take your snobbiest friend from New York City or Chicago and tell them that we, here in lil’ ol’ Montgomery, have pizza just as good, if not better, than what they have. And then you force them to come to town and sample the goods. If they’re the honest sort, they’ll likely leave conceding that they were shocked that Montgomery has pizza this good.
We order Tomatino’s all the time, so it’s tough to review something that’s already an “old favorite.” Any one experience may or may not be representative of the larger bodies of experiences that have endeared it to us. And don’t think it’d have a chance of being a staple were it not tasty. We’re not the types to go to a place just because it’s in our neighborhood. If it weren’t consistently good, we wouldn’t go back. And we wouldn’t pay a bit more for a pizza were it not fully deserving of its price.
A recent lunch pizza was of the “build your own” variety. If you like to improv on your toppings, this is the place for you. We are, as you may know, vegetarians. We went with artichoke hearts, green peppers, garlic, and mushrooms. It was outstanding. The crust was crisp without being crunchy and crumbly, but soft enough to fold. The toppings are large, but not so big that they fall off and have to be eaten with a fork. We dashed on a bit of red pepper and asked ourselves how often we could afford to make this a lunch staple.
We love food, but are not such snobs that we’d refuse to eat a slice of Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, or Domino’s. But the point is, even factoring in our ample laziness, once you call a delivery place, ask about specials, pick something out, wait for it to arrive, and then factor in a tip, you’re left with the greasy cardboard pizza in the same amount of time and at the same cost as simply calling in an order to Tomatino’s and going to pick it up. And you’re not left feeling like you’ve been kicked in the colon afterwards.
And, as if you needed further assurance that we aren’t “foodies,” on that same scale of “college dorm room” evaluation, Tomatino’s slices hold up quite well for a second day, meaning that leftovers make for an exciting lunch the next day and can also be eaten cold.
Our usual order is either the ultimate vegetarian or the Mediterranean. The former is heaped with vegetables, whereas the latter focuses more on flavor combinations. Really, there’s something about the crust. It’s weird to say, but it tastes like it’s made with good water or something.
This place is the only local restaurant to be entered into our phones. Not only that, they have come through for us in the clutch on several occasions. Ever been getting back into town late at night and spent that last leg of the Interstate or the drive home from the airport wondering what in the hell you’re going to eat? Calling ahead to Tomatino’s for an awesome pizza really does make you feel like things are going to be OK. You’re home. The food is good.
Should you opt against ordering takeout, the décor is great. The walls are a warm orange. There is great art on the walls, always rotating and for sale. It’s laid back. The servers are hipsters, but they don’t bring any condescension to the table. There’s a good beer list, and we hear the calzones are great.
It’s a crucial part of our neighborhood. It’s such a luxury to be able to walk from our house to get world class pizza. If we’re so inclined, we can even cross the street to get world class cinema at the Capri. Your friends in other cities should be jealous.
Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with a dog, a cat, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.