That's amore! Great pizza and more in Oxnard

By Allison Costa 12/09/2010

Uptown Pizza
2200 Outlet Center Drive
Oxnard
983-4151
www.uptowngourmetpizza.com
$2.95 - $25.99

Uptown Pizza, located in the Palms Shopping Center in Oxnard, is a modest restaurant, one of those that doesn’t make much of a fuss or draw too much attention to itself. Yet behind the counter of this mostly takeout pizza joint, they are rolling out quite a selection of gourmet pies. The menu is broad with an abundant list of pizza toppings — pepperoni and sausage for the purists, and gourmet toppings like shrimp and pesto for the foodies. With sandwiches, salads and calzones, too, this is a menu that is sure to please everyone at your table.

I stopped in with some friends for a late lunch on a recent Saturday afternoon, and found the restaurant fairly quiet, a respite before the dinner rush, I’m sure. The weather was warm and sunny, so we opted for one of the few tables out in front of the restaurant. Our meal began with an order of the garlic bread sticks. The golden lengths of dough were buttery and heavily dusted with Parmesan cheese. Inside, we found pillowy dough, the texture like that of a well-made doughnut, yet salty and savory instead of sweet. The basket of eight bread sticks was accompanied by a hearty red pizza sauce for dipping.

We also sampled the hot and spicy buffalo wings, which were flavorful and vibrant, but heavy on the grease and hard to remove from the aluminum pan they were served in. Dipped in cooling, chunky blue-cheese dressing, they offered a nice contrast to all of the carb-heavy pizza we also devoured.

From the pizza options, we selected one vegetarian pizza, the Greek feta veggie, and one from the other end of the spectrum, the bacon deluxe. For the veggie pizza, we opted for the thin and crispy crust, which proved to be the perfect pairing for the mushrooms, olives, artichoke hearts, peppers and tomatoes perched on top. The pizza was sprinkled with a generous portion of feta cheese, which, when mixed with the house pizza sauce, made for a delightful flavor combination. The whole pizza was perfectly blistered, and the sesame-sprinkled crust offered a delightful crunch.

Where the veggie pizza was more prim and proper, the bacon deluxe was a bruiser of a pizza. With its thick, twisted crust (which we thought would be a good match for the robust toppings), creamy sauce, and thick, doughy bottom, it was anything but ladylike. It was spread with garlic herb sauce — similar in color and consistency to an Alfredo sauce — and topped with chunks of bacon, crumbled sausage, slices of turkey ham and fresh tomatoes. We thoroughly enjoyed the contrast of the meat flavors, the texture of the crust, and the unique sauce. This pizza alone — with its hefty slices — will draw me back to the restaurant again.

We also enjoyed the fatoosh salad, filled with crunchy romaine and a sparse selection of olives, tomatoes, cucumbers and bits of toasted pita bread. We tossed it with the house dressing (a simple oil and vinegar combo), which, as the salad sat, the pita chips drank up, giving them a sweet tanginess in addition to their crunch.

Though we didn’t have room, Uptown Pizza also offers a selection of sandwiches on freshly baked bread, like hot pastrami, hot Italian sausage, turkey pesto and chicken Caesar. We sipped water and Diet Cokes (go ahead, laugh at the irony) with our meal, as there is neither beer nor wine at Uptown.

Though Uptown Pizza does a fair amount of takeout business, there are a few tables outside and a selection of small tables inside. It offers lunch specials from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, which include personal pan pizzas and pizza by the slice. Delivery is available as well, for those nearby. The service is friendly and prompt, with much of it (like drinks and paper napkins) set up to be self-serve.

For those in Oxnard, Uptown Pizza offers a nice alternative to the many chain pizza places out there. This place is all about the pizza, so when you go, go right for the jugular, its mainstay, its reason for being: great pizza. My only regret from my meal at Uptown Pizza? That it doesn’t offer bigger napkins.

Visit my blog at www.venturafoodhappenings.com or find Ventura Food Happenings on Facebook.

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