Naked City Pizza Shop on Arville
Wee Chicken Finger Pizza – Blue cheese, chicken fingers, and mozzarella cheese
Wee Back Home Pie – Thick tomato sauce mixed with mozzarella cheese and oregano, topped with pepperoni, sausage and Parmesan cheese with a garlic crust
Pizza Logs – Hand rolled egg roll wrappers stuffed with pepperoni, mozzarella and red sauce
Cannoli – Filled to order, two large pastry tubes with espresso mascarpone, whipped cream, chocolate chips, chocolate drizzle
Using the term ‘divey’ as gently as one can it would be hard to describe Moondoggies on Arville in any other way, the space itself a brick box housing old televisions, two lifetime allotments of cigarette stains, a straight-out-of-the-80s soundtrack, and the sort of patrons already drunk enough to dance and sing by noon on a Monday – plus Chris Palmeri’s scratch made Naked City Pizza. Considered by locals and even Food Network celebrities to be a local gem and decked out with Buffalo sports décor telling the Chef’s roots it was to self seating and questionably hung over service that my family entered the makeshift dining room and presented with menus plus recommendations our order took form, a surprisingly ‘artisan’ quartet of items soon to roll out of the kitchen with plenty of grease but smooth pacing and just enough polish to make it work. Starting out with smile-inducing “Pizza Logs,” essentially an eggroll impregnated by a calzone, before testing out a pair of pies it was to the tunes of Tainted Love that the spicy chicken finger iteration arrived and teaming with blue cheese plus white sauce over a crispy semolina-spiked crust I immediately swooned, a ‘specialty’ pizza justifying its novelty while far outperforming the subsequent “Back Home Pie” which tasted good but suffered texturally under too many meaty toppings and red sauce muddled by cheese and grease. At this point duly impressed with later plans for dessert it was just as we were about to settle the tab that our server suggested the cannoli and describing them as ‘filled to order’ I couldn’t resist – a duo of crispy tubes stuffed with espresso-mascarpone proving twice as good as those at Carlo’s Bakery at nearly half the price as Duran Duran played on.
THREE AND A HALF STARS: Every bit the definition of a diamond in the rough I entered Naked City with modest expectations and walked away duly impressed, a tall order given my predilection for Neapolitan pies but true none the less. Sure the space is a little rough around the edges but in reality that is part of the charm, the quality of the food exceeding that of the environs…though if you’re lucky there’s really no beating the entertainment of a man with a mullet and a wife-beater belting out Madonna as he walks to the restroom for the sixth time in 60 minutes.
RECOMMENDED: Chicken Finger Pizza, Pizza Logs, and Cannoli
AVOID: Pizzas with too many toppings, particularly those with a lot of meat as even this substantial crust is prone to sogginess underneath the rendered fats and oils.
TIP: Seating close to the restroom and vending machines may seem an illogical choice to some but with the vents directly overhead the four-top juxtaposing the boxing game proved the least smoky in the space by a significant degree.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor