Good pizza pizza at Pompodori Pizzaria

Pizza — it’s the stereotypical college kid food. Whether it is Domino’s, Pizza Hut or LaRosa’s, pizza is the collegiate breakfast (and lunch and supper and let’s not forget midnight snack) of champions.

But sometimes the regular delivery pizza gets old. Sure, the old favorites are still tasty, but maybe your taste buds are craving something new and different. May I suggest Pomodori Pizzeria and Trottoria instead? Pomodori puts a gourmet twist on an old favorite. Their specialty pizza is roasted over an open flame in a wood-fired oven and served fresh out of the flames.

Upon arrival at the Montgomery location (there is also one in Clifton), a few friends and I found that the parking was not adequate for the number of people the restaurant could seat. After 20 minutes of driving around the pint-sized lot, we parked in the neighboring CVS lot and walked to the restaurant.

But it was worth the hike. As soon as we opened the door, the delicious aroma of wood smoke and Italian food smacked us in the face. The main dining area of the restaurant was painted warm yellow, and the lighting was soft, but not dim. Most of the kitchen was in the same room. The atmosphere, which was slightly upscale and classy, was rather strange for a pizzeria. The Clifton location offers a less chic atmosphere, but it is closer to Northern.

We were seated immediately at a shiny copper-topped table in a little room off to the side. We were across from a window with a view of the kitchen, and we could see the food preparation.

The menu was surprisingly exotic and fresh. Many varieties of wood-fired pizzas appeared on the first page, along with an eclectic collection of unusual toppings. Some of the toppings included artichoke hearts, shrimp, oysters, feta cheese and pesto sauce. Tamer toppings were also available for those with less adventurous taste buds, including pepperoni, ham, bacon, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms and fresh crushed tomatoes. Two kinds of sauces, a red tomato sauce and a garlic oil sauce, were also available. The pizzas come in a personal size, but it was more than I could eat.

Besides the wood-fired specialties, the menu offers the usual Italian foods, including ravioli, lasagna, chicken parmesan and fettuccini. Salads were available in abundance, and a variety of sandwiches were available, including pitas and Italian subs. Pizza that is not wood-fired is also available with the same toppings.

All the food prices were reasonable. Two people can eat for a little over $20 without dessert or alcohol.

I dined on a wood-fired pizza with red sauce, pepperoni, ham, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, and the best cheese garlic bread I have ever put in my mouth. The pizza was scrumptious. The savory flavor of hickory smoke filled my mouth, but did not overpower the abundant, fresh toppings. It tasted gourmet and unique. It is worlds apart from the average pizza. The pizza was much larger than I expected. It’s enough for two people to split and be reasonably full.

Pomodori has two desserts to choose from. One dessert, Tiramisu, consists of lady fingers in a pool of expresso topped with whipped mascarpone, an Italian cream cheese. I was eager to try this strange-sounding concoction, but they were out of it for the evening, so our waiter graciously offered us a free apple pizza. The apple pizza was a delicious wood-fired dessert pizza topped with apples, ricotta cheese, apricot preserves and a light streusel. It was tasty, but the perfect touch would have been some caramel sauce to drizzle over the pie.

The service was great and left nothing to be desired. Our waiter was gracious and proficient. We were never left without a beverage despite the busy evening at the restaurant.

The restaurant does not offer happy hour or any kind of entertainment, but it is a wonderful place to go on a date or simply to enjoy the unique pizza. A variety of fine drinks is available. Red and white wine is available by the glass, which is $5 to $7, and by the bottle, which is $20 and up and purchasable by date. A variety of draft and bottled beers are also available.

If you’re a pizza-loving college student who is sick of the usual pizza, I highly recommend Pomodori. It is worth the drive, and it’s relatively easy on the wallet.

And come on! It’s pizza!