One of my archaeology friends told me that they recently found a scroll dating back to the beginning of the written age. The scroll said only four words inside: cheese + dough + sauce + topping = perfection. Yep, since the beginning, pizza has remained virtually the same. It is the sum of four amazing parts joined together as one. Nowadays people like to mess with perfection. They subtract or alter one of those elements to see just how dreadful the result is (who would ever forget the crustless pizza…I still shudder from that one). I must admit, I’m one of those people. I love me some pizza. I don’t love me some cheese. I’ve tried fake cheeses and they just don’t do it right. So most of the time, I just take the cheese off. The majority of pizza restaurants don’t survive the removal of the cheese because it requires a couple things they don’t have. First and foremost, a cheeseless pizza should have a good sauce because it is now the star. It can no longer play understudy to the cheese because it is gone. The second requirement is a deep crust. Skinny pies have no substance when the cheese goes away.
The latest local restaurant to get the Tender Branson treatment was Cappy’s. Cappy’s has been a stalwart in Seminole Heights for as long as I’ve been here (8+ years). In the past few years they have expanded into St. Pete, Brandon and their latest venture, New Tampa. Since this is just moments from our apartment we decided to give it a go for J-Fur’s birthday. We were joined by her parents, sister and her boyfriend. Z-Bot came along as well:
Z-Bot’s first Cappy’s (and pizza) Experience
Not everyone in the group avoids cheese, so the table started with a plate of cheesy bread. J-Fur ate most of it. She thought it was delicious with the crispy bottom and gooey top. A side of their pizza sauce comes along with it for those who like to dip.
The Cheesy Bread
At this point the waitress came by to take our orders. This is when things got a bit crazy. There was a deep dish, no cheese, spinach and artichoke version for me, a spinach and garlic thin crust for J-Fur, a sausage and basil thin crust for the sister and a light cheese, garlic and spinach for her parents. The waitress got it all down without a moments hesitation (well except for that brief second where she assured me that she thought the kitchen would be able to make my pizza without cheese). The twenty (or was it thirty) minutes of baking time passed rather quickly. When the pizzas came out, it was fast and furious. One pie after another crash landed (delicately) on the table. When the dust had settled, two pies were hovering above the table on crazy metal holders while two sat right on the wood. At this point hands and bodies became twisted as everyone reached for what they ordered. Everyone took a bit and remarked how good their pizzas were. I was the lone holdout. I breathed deep.
The In-Laws Pizza
Now came the true test. Could Cappy’s hold up their no cheese end of the bargain? The crust was nice and flaky like true Chicago style should be. It wasn’t too dry or crisp (which can easily happen with deep dish pies). In fact, I would say it is one of the better Chicago style crusts I’ve had here in Tampa. The sauce was tangy with a good bit of flavor. The spinach was fresh and plentiful. The artichokes still had a bit of the canned taste to them (again, no cheese to mask this) but that was my only qualm with the pizza. I’d probably do better next time with a garlic, spinach version (as their garlic pies are really good). Yes, that’s right, next time. There will be a next time. Cappy’s crust, sauce and fresh spinach more than held up to the cheeseless test.
I have long considered Cappy’s one of the better pizza places in Tampa. With their Chicago style offerings and varied toppings (as well as a really good salad) it takes pizza to a place that a lot of other restaurants in the area can’t. The new Tampa Palms version follows right in line with its sister stores. Best of all, you can take the cheese off and still have a mostly pleasant time.
It’s easy to fall in love with a pizza like this. That’s why I paired it with the also easy to fall in love with “I Think I Love You” by Enerate. With a chorus like “I think I love the f**k out of you” what’s not to like?