It seems as if a lot of folks have strong opinions about their favorite pizza places. Not too long ago while grocery shopping, I struck up a conversation with a perfect stranger about – you guessed it – pizza. "You gotta try Paci's," he said, "best pizza in town."
That's how I stumbled upon 6-year-old Paci's Pizza across the street from Plant High School – and now I'm eager to spread my opinion as well.
For starters, Paci's is very New York, as in, if you don't like a huge pie with a thin crust, then you can "fuhgeddiboudit." The pizza is nothing if not big, thin and crispy, the kind you can fold over and eat like a true New Yorker.
The secret? Owner Skip Glass says he uses only bottled water while preparing the dough. The dough is made fresh every day and baked on the third day.
Paci's menu touts "nothing pre-made or pre-bought touches our pies," and I could taste that freshness in every bite.
On our first visit, I was overwhelmed by the fresh tomato and green pepper toppings. These were large sautéed green pepper slices and perfectly ripe tomatoes.
There's no deciding large, medium or small here. There's just big. The menu says pies are 18 inches, but Glass says they are closer to 22 inches. Either way, the pizza practically hangs over the carryout box, so be careful transporting it.
The prices, however, are reasonable. A New York cheese is $11.99 (toppings are $1.60 each).
The cheese is Paci's second-most popular pizza, and we know why. So many times cheese pizza can be too cheesy and greasy, but here it's the perfect blend of cheeses and spices. It's a favorite with the kids, too.
A must try if you're seeking variety is the Half & Half (16.99). Half is red sauce with mozzarella, and the other half is mozzarella and ricotta. We added sausage and green peppers on the red and spinach and tomato on the white. It was enough to feed four adults.
Other options include their most popular, Margherita Pizza ($19.49); Paci's Special Pie ($22.59) with meatballs, pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions and mozzarella; and the no-cheese Neopolitan ($20.89) with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, basil, garlic and oregano.
A nice option at Paci's is you can get pizza by the slice, a definite win-win when you and your spouse, or the kids, can't agree on toppings.
The slices ($2) also are huge, barely fitting on the paper plates. Did we mention Paci's was no fuss? Yes, you get paper plates, plastic utensils, and sodas are served in a can with a straw.
Paci's also serves calzones and rolls, which are similar to a stromboli. Again, they are large. Four of us sampled the spinach, pepperoni and mozzarella roll ($4.99), and we still had enough left to take home. There also are two simple salads: tossed and Caesar.
The main star here though is the pizza. You can even sit up at the bar area and watch owner Glass toss the dough.
My only complaint is that ordering more than one pizza can be precarious. The pizza trays take up so much room on the table. A few times, we've left one pizza at the bar so we could have enough elbow room. Although it wasn't a big deal, some may find it more useful if Paci's used pizza stands.
Paci's has limited hours, opening at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday (it's closed Sundays). It can get very busy on Friday and Saturday nights, so bring your patience or call ahead for carryout.
Bottom line: Hand-tossedNew York pizza,huge pie with a thin crust.
Where: 2307 S. Dale Mabry Hwy.
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday; closed Sunday
Credit cards: All major
Children's menu: Yes
Alcohol: Wine and beer
Wheelchair access: Yes
Price: $2 to $22
Contact: (813) 253-2973