Posted by: Eating The Road | October 28, 2009

La Piazza Al Forno

La Piazza Al Forno
Address: 5803 W Glendale Ave, Glendale, AZ‎ 85301
Phone: (623) 847-3301‎
Known For: Pizza
What I had: Mediterranean Pizza (pesto sauce, mozzarella, sun-dried tomato and feta)
Price: $12.05
Rating: 6 out of 10

La Piazza Al Forno has been featured on all sorts of lists and even on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives for their pies, and they’ll make sure you know it. They’ve got signs all over the place and their website is filled with praise by others. Now this is not always a bad thing…especially when a these accolades are proven correct.

Now I’ve been wanting to find that piece of pizza that one continues to talk about well after eating it. I know there are a slew of places on the east coast that offer this but I’ve yet to find something like that in the west. Sadly my search continues.

I was sorely disappointed by La Pizza Al Forno. For starters, there was a large line and the service was very slow. I know this is because of their popularity but you’d think that it would be due deserved and hence worth these fallbacks. There hours are a bit strange too. I’d imagine that if they were doing such good business that they’d want to be open as much as possible. They close daily from 3PM-5PM and close for the night at 8:30PM. They are also closed Sundays and Mondays. To further add to it, I was not given silverware nor napkins, ever, and my water was not refilled once. Every request seemed to be a problem and my waitress was extremely hard find.

Getting to the pizza…it was just alright but nowhere near what it is lauded to be. They use a wood-fire brick oven and you’d assume their crust to be one of the best features but it was slightly…I won’t say undercooked, but not crispy enough. I had the Mediterranean which is a creamy pesto sauce, mozzarella, sun dried tomatoes and feta cheese. I was debating between this and the classic Margarhetta but the waitress talked me out of it. She adamantly stated that it was better. I wish I had gotten the latter. The pizza was just underwhelming, nothing stood out and the flavors didn’t pop at all, nothing really hit me and it was all sort of bland. You’d expect pesto to have a kick but it was as if it had almost no garlic. The cheese was generic tasting mozzarella (though I hear its not) and the feta didn’t have a bite either. Even the sun dried tomatoes umph and I’m a huge fan of sun dried tomatoes.

I hate to be a downer but it was just okay, and when you claim to be one of the best, being just okay is actually a downfall. I would not go here again.  Unfortunately I think that they have fallen victim to their success. It just felt as if the staff weren’t working well together and the place wasn’t running smoothly. Maybe I was just there on a bad night, maybe not. They had trouble getting food out in a timely matter and pleasing the patrons. I believe that because of this they then send out less than par pizzas. There was a joint a block away that serves by the slice and I bet I would’ve been much more happy (and saved a few bucks) over there.

Pizza Oven

Pizza Oven

Medditerranean Pizza

Medditerranean Pizza

Pizza Close-up

Pizza Close-up

Further reading:

Aug 29, 2009 @ 17:34



  1. How disappointing. The pizza is certainly appealing visually, and the word “feta” always piques my interest.

  2. I know, right….everything on the pizza piqued my interest on the menu…but on my tongue…not so much.

  3. Hello sir,I am the owner of La Piazza.I first off wanted to thank you for trying us.I am sorry that you had a bad experience.I will not try to make excuses for the service.Everyone should get great service.I would however like to ask if you have ever tried a true Napolaetana pizzeria.That is the kind of pizza we make here and I have been all over the country and ours is consistent with those from Naples.we are not a new york crispy pizza.True naples pizza is soft to the touch,like a pita with a slight touch of crispiness to it .It seems that your review and the comment about being better off with the pizza across the street would tell me that you havent tried or prefer a true Naples style pizza.I also was wondering what your credentials as a food critic were ,as you have went out of your way to right reviews on other trusted sites(azcentral,New times}that thought we were worthy of being one of the best pizzas in the valley.

  4. Justin,

    Thank you for commenting, it’s nice to know that you at least take an interest in your reputation.

    I have no credentials as a critic and do not claim to be one. I am simply someone who enjoys good food, good service and a good dining experience. These I did not find at your establishment. I am very aware that you have earned high accolades from many sources and I applaud you for that. Clearly my palate is not up to par and I apologize. I am familiar with Napoletana-style pizza…sadly the crust was the least of the problems, the very least. The bland ingredients and the horrible service by far out weighed that issue.

    For a truly good pizza of this style (in the US) I would recommend you fly to New Haven, CT and give Frank Pepe’s a taste. That is my idea of a perfect pie. On top of that the service and overall experience was top notch. Each aspect of the pizza added significantly to the finished product and taste, they layered on each other beautifully, from the crust to the sauce to the cheese.

    At your place I felt like I was unimportant to the mostly high-school aged staff and that I did not matter. Anytime a restaurant leaves one with that impression it is not a good sign.

    All of these observations were just those of a single person and clearly there are a lot that disagree with me. I’m glad that many others have had a better experience than I did.



  5. I have been to Frank Pepe’s and I had a bad experience with service there,ironically.That also is not Napolaetana pizza.There are no coal fired ovens in Naples,only wood fired.I am sorry you didnt like our food.It is not for everyone.The service,I apologize for.

  6. Justin,

    Per the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, there are very exacting methods as to what constitutes a Napoletana pizza.

    The genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of Italian wheat flour (type 0 or 00, or a mixture of both), natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with a low-speed mixer. After the rising process, the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or other mechanical device, and may be no more than 3 mm thick. The pizza must be baked for 60–90 seconds in a 485 °C (905 °F) stone oven with an oak-wood fire. Also the pizza should be mad Authentic Neapolitan pizzas are made with local ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes and Mozzarella di Bufala Campana…does your pizza live up to these standards?

    Yes, as you do point out it must be cooked in a wood-fire stone oven but that is why it is called “Napoletana-style”…as it’s impossible for someone out of the region to fulfill all requirements to make it genuine.

    There are also very exacting standards on what toppings can be used and your Mediterranean does not meet those…your Margherita does but my question to you is, why then would your waitstaff steer me from ordering that?

    All of this aside, I’ll repeat what I’ve been saying, the ingredients were bland and had no “life”. It felt as if there was no inspiration or care put into making the pizza and that they were just being pumped out….this may not have been the case and surely others have had different opinions but this was my experience.



  7. Yes as a matter of fact,all of the above meets our standards.Different toppings is the only place we are different,but thats it.we use 00 flour,San marzano tom from Italy and make our own mozzarella.

  8. Justin,

    Semantics aside, because this debate would be endless otherwise….bland ingredients and poor service do not make for a good dining experience. I’m fairly certain that I would enjoy your restaurant if I were to stop in again. Granted I would most definitely order the Margarhetta and I would pray that the waitstaff were better trained. As far as my intital write-up…I was fairly disappointed only because of all the rave reviews. When something is talked about as “the greatest” and it doesn’t come close to being such it can be more of a letdown than expecting nothing upfront. I would not persuade others in giving your place a chance as so many have enjoyed it.



  9. I’m very sorry to hear of your less than ideal experience here. We visit anytime we’re anywhere near Glendale and have always had great service (usually by someone in the family) and the pizza has always been perfect for us. (Some people perhaps don’t enjoy the crust with dark spots – but we do.) I can’t imagine why the waitstaff would talk you out of the Margherita in favor of the pizza with feta cheese. The Margharita is just so delicious in its simplicity (my husband prefers the Italian Stallion with all of the italian meats).

    If you end up back in the area, please try one of these two pizzas. It’s unfortunate that your experience was marred because of the service issues – hopefully they will be resolved by your next visit.

    • Well thanks for the feedback. I’ve really heard so many good things about it…yes, hopefully next time it’ll be better for me. Any other places around there you recommend?

  10. I can sympathize that the owner is interested in safeguarding the reputation of his establishment, and my own experiences have been generally favorable at Piazza al Forno; however, I think perhaps the owner is doing himself a disservice by arguing over what is obviously an opinion about what makes a great pizza.

    The best you can do is make the pizza you want to eat and hope that others share that taste – you cannot possibly please everyone, or even to get them to agree on what makes the best pizza.

    Recognize diversity in taste, fix the things that are really broken – such as service issues – and accept criticism in the spirit given.

  11. Pizza Locust,

    That’s a great concise point….and really what I was trying to get across to him. There are so many people that have spoken favorably about his pizza that I know my experience was in the minority. Let’s hope he continues to read reviews such as these and makes minor tweaks as he sees fit and his place will only get better.

    Thanks for stopping in a reading my posts. I’m looking forward to each slice you eat as you get closer to eating every pizza 🙂

  12. I have taken steps to fix the service issues and will continue to make the best pizzas I can.Thank you for the feedback.

  13. Justin,

    Awesome, glad to hear it!

    Best, -ETR

  14. We were extremely disappointed with the food at La Piazza Al Forno. We had the veggie pizza. The crust was soggy, the vegies and cheese very sparse and the flavor nearly non-existent except for the “canned” taste of the bits of tomato. Not impressed with the sandy arugula leaves thrown on top but maybe they use these to hide the lack of vegies.

    We are hesitant to try anymore of Guy’s picks after this experience.

  15. I am sorry you had a bad experience, I loved it and I am a good judge of bad…and good pizza.
    Here was my review last year and I was just visiting …no I was not paid for this review.

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