Pizzeria Heaven

Gourmet Italian pizza at a strip mall pizzeria

Story and photos by Adam Patterson

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Don't let the plain exterior fool you. The food at Dino's is something special.

I know good pizza, and I know good, simple Italian dishes. Not knowing what to expect when I pulled into a strip mall in uptown Plattsburgh, N.Y. to dine at Dino’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta, I set my standards nice and low: I come from an Italian family, and I’ve had pizza in more than five different cities across Italy. I was expecting mediocrity at its best.

The location in a strip mall on Route 3 didn’t impress, but when I walked in, I was pleasantly surprised by the interior. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not great, but I was expecting a lot less. It has color and a little bit of style, so it already has a one up on most strip-mall pizza I’ve had.

I went to Dino's with a buddy of mine, and both of us were happy that the interior didn’t look like a kitchen from the 1970s. But as soon as the smiles faded and we looked at each other, we noticed something—the place was dead quiet. There were about six more people there eating, but there were only whispers. Maybe the guy didn’t put on the background music because this is their early service (they open at 11 a.m. and we got there at 2 p.m.), or maybe they never do. But it was quite clear that sitting there in a semi-decent pizzeria no one should feel like they have to whisper because comparatively, cemeteries sound like rock concerts. We whispered the whole time.

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The interior is typical, but not too cheezy.

We got our obligatory laminated menus and set about ordering. I got a meat lovers slice and a meat lovers stromboli (ham, bacon, sausage, and pepperoni). My friend James got a veggie stromboli and a personal pan buffalo chicken pizza.

We whispered to ourselves until the plates came out, and there were several. The stromboli, which I thought would be the size of a 6-inch sub from Subway, was over a foot long. Not only that, mine was absolutely packed with meat. It was the largest, most unapologetically artery-hardening stromboli I’ve ever had, and I loved every second of it. I loved it so much I couldn’t even finish it, which is rare for me. It’s a shame my meat lovers slice was terrible.

Looking at the slice, I could tell no care went into it and that it was rushed to be made. We clearly had a freshly-made slice of cheese pizza, but it looked like someone just took pepperoni out of the freezer, tore off some slices of deli ham, sausage, and bacon and just threw it on top. The pizza was hot, the meat cold, and overall, it was just a sloppy slice. I didn’t get more than a few bites deep before I set it aside.

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Look at those toppings: just tossed on without love.

Stuffed from the car battery of a stromboli my stomach was trying to digest, I turned my attention to my friend James, who also told me he loved his veggie stromboli. I don’t do healthy things, so I’d be in a bad position to judge that for myself. I’ll take his word.

But if James thought his buffalo chicken pizza was going untouched by me, he clearly doesn’t know me as well as I thought. I dove in.

I loved it more than anything I’ve tasted recently, including my awesome stromboli. The buffalo chicken was delicious, spicy, flavorful, and everything it should have been. If that pizza told me to punch my friend in the face so that we could be alone together, I’d do it. That’s how good this pizza was.

After what felt like an eternity of eating we pushed our plates back, half of our strombolis still laughing at us, my meat lovers slice largely untouched, and his buffalo chicken pizza completely destroyed, and asked for the check. We realized neither of us had checked the prices on anything, not that it mattered. More food than I can eat in one sitting cost about $11. James had his veggie Stromboli and a personal pan pizza for about $13. Both of these prices included our drinks.

I was in such a delicious-food-induced stupor I almost fell asleep behind the wheel on the drive home. I still have some of my meal in my fridge, and I am so happy that I do because this was the best stromboli and personal pan pizza I’ve ever tasted, even if the slice was atrocious.

APN gives Dino's 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Who has the best slices in the North Country?

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