It was like visiting an old friend. Or, at least, visiting a close relative of an old friend.
That’s how it felt when the glorious pizza arrived at our table at Italia Mia (3150 State Road 32E, Westfield, 896-1052).
Up until then, it was difficult to get a handle on the place. Hidden in a CVS-anchored strip center (aren’t they all, these days?) and with no decorating scheme to speak of, Italia Mia seemed to be a work in progress. And small, over-fried mozzarella sticks ($5.99), a lettuce-heavy Vito’s Salad ($6.99)—which didn’t make much of an impression despite prosciutto, red pepper, artichoke, cucumber and more—and indifferent service didn’t go far to convince us that the cold-weather trek had been worth it.
But then the pizza arrived.
And before I even took a bite, I sensed its pedigree.
Yes, it was confirmed by the owner—he had been involved in the late, lamented Cio’s, which once occupied a different strip center farther south on 96th Street. That by-the-slice or by-the-pie pizza temple had made it to the winner’s circle in the 64-pizza bracket I helped organize for the equally late, lamented Indy Men’s Magazine.
I didn’t realize how much I missed it until I found myself going for a second and third slice of this New York-style masterwork. Like its predecessor, the Italia Mia pie eschews gimmicks in favor of a crunchy-on-the-outside, soft-on-the-inside foldable crust; a thin, flavorful sauce; and just the right amount of cheese to harmonically converge the three key ingredients. Just right.
We also tried the Meatball Parmigiana Sub ($5.99), whose dark orbs were completely hidden with a coat of mozzarella, and the satisfying Fettuccine Alfredo ($8.99), which mercifully didn’t overdo the cream sauce.
But it’s the pizza that’s the real draw here. And every Monday since dining there, I’ve envied the restaurant’s Westfield neighbors, who are close enough to take advantage of Italia Mia’s buy-one-pie-get-the-second-for-half-price deal on a regular basis. In my book, one of the few things better than a great pizza is having extra slices in the refrigerator for the next day’s lunch.•
Third in a month-long series of visits to new pizza places.