Kings Ristorante - Mountain Top, PA

In my continued efforts to cover all of Northeastern Pennsylvania, I decided that I would load up the pizza mobile for a road trip and head to Luzerne County for a review.  I picked up the first lady, and we started heading south to some unknown pizzeria.  As we discussed where we could go, I suggested Kings Ristorante in Mountain Top because I had been there before and had great Italian dinners, but never tried the pizza.  Plus several readers have tweeted and emailed me suggesting I review Kings, so with that we cruised down I-81 to our destination.  Kings was really easy to find, right on the main drag in Mountain Top.  It's brightly lit sign and storefront were easy to spot, and we quickly exited the pizza mobile to get inside.

When we walked inside, we were immediately greeted with the sight of an open-air, busy kitchen complete with a wood burning pizza oven alongside a gas brick oven.  As soon as I saw the wood burning oven I knew I was ordering a Margherita pizza.  We were quickly shown to our seats in the busy dining room by the hostess and panned over the menu.  In looking at the menu items, I was shocked by how reasonably priced everything was.  The dinners were mostly in the $10 to $15 range for what seemed to be some high end entrees.  I looked around to see what everyone else was eating, the entrees looked delicious, and the portions were huge.  Unfortunately, we were only here for the pizza and an appetizer so we stuck to the script.  I ordered up my Margherita pizza for only $5.75, and we ordered a large Neopolitan pizza for around $10.  Anytime you can get an 18" pizza for 10 bucks, it's a good deal, so no matter what they served us, I'm assuming this pizza would be a good value.

In addition to the pizza, I grabbed an order of calamari, and we also chose to try the wings out.  The portion of calamari was pretty generous, and I enjoyed the light breading on the calamari rings and little squid.  The marinara was also fresh and flavorful.  The mild wings were very sweet, and didn't have the slightest hint of heat.  They were decent, but I like some spice on my chicken wings.  After sampling the appetizers for a short time, the pizzas were ready very quickly.  I was amazed at how quickly the food came out on such a busy night!

Since the only pizza that my girlfriend and I were going to try together was the large Neopolitan, I decided to try that first with her.  It looked like it was pretty well prepared, with a nice outer crust to hold on to, some slight charring, and cheese melted nicely.  We each picked up our first slices and noticed two things: first, the cheese didn't do the "stringy" thing that we love so much.  In other words, the cheese didn't stick to the adjacent slice and require chopping the strings with a knife to separate.  The second thing that we noticed was that the slice was floppy and not crispy at all.  I'm not a Neopolitan pizza expert, but I'm guessing that this pizza was not designed to be crispy.  We took our first bites and looked at each other to watch our facial expressions.  We now play a little game to see if we can tell what the other thinks about the pizza based on their initial reaction.  I wasn't seeing the most positive expression on her face, and I guess my reaction wasn't hugely enthusiastic either.  I mean, I liked the pizza, but I didn't love it.  The crust was super tender and the dough had a lovely bubble pattern that was cooked all the way through.  The sauce was a vibrant red, made from a quality tomato and lightly seasoned, although I wish there was more of it on this pie.  The cheese was pretty average, although we did catch a unique flavor surrounding the cheese.  This flavor sort of reminded me of the oil or butter that they dip Auntie Annie's pretzels in right before they serve them to you in the mall.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but that's the best way I can describe it!

After trying the Neopolitan, it was time for me to try out the Margherita pizza, which I could tell was undercooked just by glancing at it.  I'll admit that I've never worked with a wood-fired oven, but I am very aware that they are challenging to cook in so I'll take it easy here.  I picked up my first slice, and it felt like a soft taco shell soaked in water rather than the light crispy crust that I was looking for.  There was no charring, and no wood-fired flavor to speak of, so that was a disappointment.  The sauce, which was similar to the tasty sauce on the Neopolitan, worked very well on this pizza.  The fresh mozzarella cheese was not fully melted and just sort of sat on top of the sauce.  Overall, I think I had much higher hopes for this pizza because of the wood burning oven, but at a price point lower than $6, I think I should have lowered my expectations a bit.  I did appreciate the effort, and again I recognize it's not easy cooking with a wood oven, but I'll chalk this up to an off day on a busy night so no harm no foul.  Besides, this pizza will be wonderful after I heat it up in my oven the next day!


Overall, I have to say that although the pizza did not "wow" us, I very much enjoyed the casual family atmosphere, extremely low prices, great service, and clean kitchen and dining room.  And I have to say, we didn't see one person leave without a smile on their face, so that says a lot.  I personally am excited at the prospect to come back again one day for a fine Italian meal at bargain basement prices.  For these reasons, I will give Kings Ristorante my seal of approval.  Get there and give it a try!  Also, if you have had a different experience with the pizza PLEASE comment below to let me know what your experience has been!
King's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Restaurant: King's Ristorante
Location: Mountain Top, PA
Date: October 2013
Pizza Ordered: Neopolitan Pizza/Margherita Pizza
Price: $9.90/$5.95
Eat In/Take Out: Eat In
 
Crust: 3/5 - 2/5
Sauce: 3.5/5 - 3.5/5
Cheese: 3.25/5 - 2.5/5
Overall Taste: 3.25/5 - 3.25/5
Crispy/Cooked Properly: 3/5 - 1/5
Overall Value: 5/5 - 4/5
OVERALL RATING: 3.25/5 - 2.75/5

Similar to: Cara Mia's, Colarusso's Coal Fired, AmberDonia Bakery

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