PIZZA PIE-PER

Finding pizza is easy; finding good pizza is another ordeal altogether. I’ll admit, I thought I was pretty much done with gobbling pizza when I graduated from college. Sometimes, though, I still get the spark of a craving. Not for a greasy mound of cheese on puffy bread, but for slim, crunchy, New York-style pizza. Longtime Jacksonvillians might know where to go, but relative newcomers – like me – can easily become overwhelmed by the plethora of local pizzerias.

I always come back to Renna’s Pizza. Or maybe it’s Renna’s that comes back to me. Long-standing restaurants have a habit of staying with you, like that little nudge in your mind telling you that it’ll always be there.

Renna’s has three locations: Argyle Forest, Mandarin and Jax Beach. I decided to cruise on over to Argyle, the pizzeria that’s been a presence there for more than 20 years. Giuseppe (aka Joe) Renna left Bari, Italy in 1976 and opened his first shop in the former Philips Mall – he’s been building on that successful venture ever since.

It has a casual and welcoming ambiance, so it’s easy to assume that Renna’s offers the same strip-mall experience as its lesser competitors. Don’t make that mistake; Renna’s is a couple cuts above the typical pie house.

As a creature of habit, I usually order the same toppings: pepperoni, bell pepper, and banana pepper. For this Renna’s excursion, I went all out, keeping my favorites and adding a few more. My friend and I split the veggie pizza, but we made it definitively non-vegetarian by adding pepperoni. We also substituted banana peppers for the olives.

The veggie ($16.50 for a medium) includes Renna’s homemade-style sauce, mushrooms, olives, onions, green peppers, fresh tomatoes, and garlic. These crunchy toppings are tossed over NYC-style thin crust and covered in cheese.

What I love most about this method is how the cheese and sauce slide off when you pick up a slice. This might seem like a weird reason, but there’s just something about having to catch your toppings and dump them messily back onto the crust. With NYC-style, it’s less about the crust, and more about how the dough  serves as a palette for the artistry of the toppings.

Word from the wise: Rather than choosing breadsticks for a side, opt for Renna’s garlic knots ($4.50 for 10). You won’t miss the fussiness of deep-dish pizza after eating 10 of these little delights! Our garlic knots were baked fresh – warm, airy, and flavorful. Garlic and herbs infused each bite, and you just naturally must dip each one in marinara sauce. The knots were the best part of the meal. I could eat 10 of them. Oh, wait, I did. (Just kidding; I shared. Sorta.)

We wrapped up the the scrumptious meal with dessert, in an effort to counteract the garlic breath. My friend and I split a cannoli ($4.50). Ricotta cheese and chocolate chips spilled out of a shell generously dusted in powdered sugar. If that image isn’t enough to make you want a cannoli, you’re crazy.

Renna’s is a Jacksonville staple, with a thumbprint richer than even its cannoli. The pizzeria has three shops in the area, so you have no excuse for not going. The next time a pizza craving hits, head to Renna’s. The friendly folks will welcome you with pies of cheese, toppings, sauce, and flavors that’ll linger on your taste buds until next time.

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Read about many more of Rebecca’s local dining adventures at somewhereinthecityjax.com.

About EU Jacksonville

october, 2021

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