Shandra's Pizza - Pittston
Shandra's Pizza - Worth the Wait?I have been hearing about Shandra's Pizza from a few select individuals since I started this pizza blog about 115 pizzas ago, and those individuals swear by this pizza. Needless to say, their incessant recommendations have set the bar high for this pizza! A number of barriers have been thrown in front of me in reviewing this pizza such as driving distance, the fact that Shandra's only serves pizza on Wednesdays and Fridays, and the fact that I'm told there is usually a long wait for the pizza because it has such a strong following. These factors don't fit well into my grab it quick while I'm on my way somewhere model, so nearly a year and a half has passed without me finding out what this mystery pizza is all about. Whenever I asked what the pizza was like, I always received answers like "You just have to try it" or "It's not like most pizzas." Basically the only thing I know about Shandra's is that it's square and difficult for me to purchase!
Finally, one Friday came along where I was celebrating a friend's birthday down in the Pittston area, so I made it a point to place my order so that I could pick up my pizza before the party started. I called in the order as I was leaving work for the day anticipating a long wait, which to me is 45 minutes to an hour. The person on the phone told me it would be 1 hour and 45 minutes until I could pick up the pizza! I had never experienced a wait time like that before, but I was sort of fitting that the wait time would be so long as it has taken an eternity for me to commit to reviewing this pizza. The wait only added to the mystery and allure, and the anticipation continued to grow. I redesigned my road trip to include several stops so that I could run some errands and kill the necessary time to pick up the pie. I thought I might even do a double or triple Pittston review while I was at it! Stay tuned to NEPA Pizza Review for those reviews coming soon!
Finally, my scheduled pickup time had come, so drove over to Shandra's to find that the parking lot was quite small and difficult to access and the building itself seemed to be some sort of old trailer, but the whole setup kind of added to the allure of a throwback to another period of time - I'm not sure which decade, but let's just say may decades ago! I walked in to see quite an operation with the kitchen in plain sight, boxes piled everywhere, a "book" of scheduled pizza pickups, and a sign detailing the very limited offerings available which is essentially pizza and possibly wings as well. I sat a few minutes taking the whole operation in, and it was like nothing I recall seeing. This place only serves pizza twice per week, and they are so busy on those two nights that they have to schedule pickups at half hour intervals, which is a pretty cool concept. Suddenly it made sense to me - figure out how many pizzas you can make per half hour, schedule that number for pickup in half hour increments, and keep on baking! It's such a simplistic concept that is not employed anywhere else that I've seen, but it just works, and judging by the many pizzas I saw flying out the door, it is a system of success here.
After reveling in the operation, I grabbed my pizza which happened to be a plain without onions, and headed for the car. The sign said that they used peanut oil in their pizza, so I was pretty certain that I was getting a "pan fried pizza" similar to Victory Pig or Pizza L'oven. Low and behold, that's exactly what I got. I photographed the pie and got my initial first impression, which was that the contrasting colors of the sauce and cheese were magnificent, but I got the feeling this pie was a little undercooked. I took my first bite and confirmed just that. The pizza was cooked enough to not be raw, but it was still pretty chewy and doughy in the middle. In this genre of pizza, I want my pan fried crust to be totally crispy and give me the sensation that it was actually fried. There was only remnants of being fried around the edges of the pan, so this was a little disappointing to me. The sauce was excellent as it was made of a high quality chunky tomato which is right up my alley. The vibrant tomatoes were succulent and flavorful, and they were definitely my favorite part of the pie. The cheese was also good, and provided a nice contrast to the sauce. I won't guess on what type of cheese, but many in this genre use a Gouda or Cheddar derivative.
I have to add, at $11.00 including tax, this pizza is an amazing value, considering ordering a similar pie at another establishment will run you upwards of $18.00. Overall I have to say I enjoyed this pie, but I need to answer the question: is Shandra's worth the wait? Considering that the anticipation surrounding this pizza grew over 1.5 years, and the wait time was 1 hour and 45 minutes, and it's a 45 minute drive from my home, unfortunately I have to conclude that, No, it was not worth the wait. Am I totally thrilled that I got to experience a relic of a simpler time, a historical landmark, got to be a part of something that an entire community seems to enjoy, and had a good quality pizza to boot? Yes! So for my circumstances of living a distance away and propensity to demand immediate service, I probably would not go through all of the trouble to order a Shandra's pie again. If I lived locally and could afford the time to plan out my order in advance, I would be more apt to grab one of these pies again. I'm totally stoked that I got to finally try this pizza, I commend Shandra's on a successful, yet unique (in this millennium) way of doing things, and I also commend them on a pizza nicely done. I recommend you give Shandra's a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Restaurant: Shandra's Pizza
Date: February 2014
Pizza Ordered: 12 Cut Red Pan Fried Sicilian
Eat In/Take Out: Take Out
Overall Taste: 3.5/5
Crispy/Cooked Properly: 2.75/5
Overall Value: 4/5
OVERALL RATING: 3.75/5