Anybody who knows me realizes that I can't be bought, and I'm not the type to present a rosy picture that is all sunshine and lollipops to get anybody to like me. I try to present balanced opinions and will explain both the pros and cons to just about any situation so my readers can make an informed decision. I say this because a neighbor (a daughter of a client) emailed me a few days ago raving about a new restaurant in Land Park: Masullo. She had such a wonderful experience to share with me. I wish I could say my experience was the same as hers, but maybe I need to go there again.
For starters, the restaurant doesn't have any signage, has been open for a mere three weeks, and for a pizza joint, I thought $50 for dinner was a bit high. The menu is limited, mostly a couple of salads, Neapolitan-style pizza choices, beer, wine and a few desserts. My friend must have showed up when the restaurant was half empty to get her free dessert, because we weren't offered any as she was.
I asked to meet the owner, Robert, but Jacqueline, our hostess, said he was too busy in the kitchen. The restaurant is long and narrow, and the kitchen is open to the dining room. The dining room consists of long tables and hard benches on a cement floor. Very urban. There was a long line for dinner when my husband and I arrived, about 6:30 on a Friday night. Seated at a table in front of us was an agent I work with at Lyon. I stopped to talk to her. She said, "Order your pizza with a crispy crust, otherwise, it will be soggy. Oh, and these benches are really hard."
There was a party of eight ahead of us, but still plenty of space available. The hostess seated the party of eight before us, even though there was space for a couple. We waited about 20 minutes.
After we were seated, our waitress took our drink orders and started to hurry away. But wait, we cried, we know what we want. We were starving and had studied the menu while sitting on the hard bench.
First the salads arrived. The dressing was on the light side. I ordered the Arugula with fennel, kumquat slices, shaved Parmesan and a Meyer lemon vinaigrette for $5. My husband chose the mixed greens with a bit of prosciutto for $6. His was a bit more moist than mine.
The pizzas, I was warned, were individual sized, but in truth, two people could share that pizza. I chose the four quarters ($11), which was sausage, prosciutto, artichoke and roasted peppers with mozzarella. The ingredients were sparse, so pretty much once slice tasted like the other. Maybe it's due to the runny tomatoes that weren't quite ripe, as each slice of pizza was so thin it almost fell over when forked. But it was good. Don't get me wrong. It was delicious, fire-roasted and just the right amount of olive oil. Mouth watering. My husband had the Sophie ($12), which was potatoes (a bit undercooked and starchy), sausage, fontina, corn and rosemary.
Nobody appeared to describe dessert as promised on the menu, but our waitress did ask if we wanted dessert. By then, after consuming two salads and two big pizzas, dessert wasn't possible, even if it was free, which it wasn't.
I did notice an inordinate amount of take-out pizza boxes pile up while we were waiting for dinner. Maybe that's the ticket. Order take-out! Because the take-out orders seemed to take precedence over the orders by patrons in the restaurant and outnumbered us all.
The atmosphere was noisy. I couldn't hear half of what my husband had to say, and you know what, sometimes, it's better that way.
But $50 for dinner was a bit much for a pizza joint. We had two salads, one glass of wine, one water and two pizzas. Here's a tip, if you go there, order a couple salads and share the pizza!
Fortunately, we walked there, so walking home meant burning the calories of all the pizza we consumed.
Masullo is open for dinner only and located at 2711 Riverside Boulevard in Land Park. Right next to State Farm.