I felt it only fair to post a follow-up review of Ermanno's Three Guys Pizza located in North Canton, Ohio. In my previous review, I had mentioned that they were using a convenience product, Garlic Mist from Par Way Tryson, to add a decidedly garlic flavor to their pizza crusts before topping with sauce, cheese, and the toppings of your choice. In my previous review, I noted that when the pizza was hot, the chemical flavor of the Garlic Mist was barely noticeable. However, when you pulled the pizza out of the refrigerator the next morning for a cold slice, it was unmistakable.
Over the course of time I managed to develop enough of a relationship (always as a paying customer) with one of the managing partners at the North Canton location that I finally felt comfortable enough to bring it up to him. After confirming that they did use the Garlic Mist as a convenience product (which I already kind of knew), he initially said that he didn't think that the Garlic Mist was that bad. It turns out that he had never tried a slice of their pizza cold. Over the course of the following couple of weeks, he admitted that when he took a pie home and tried it himself, the realization that something was truly amiss finally hit home.
In the conversations I've had these last couple of weeks with Alan, he has shown me that he is a business owner who not only cares about producing the best pie that he can, but also producing one that is cost effective to make and affordable for his customers. We had a lengthy discussion about how he was working to get flour with a very specific protein level so that his pizza dough had just the right amount of elasticity and chew. He talked about how their pizza dough goes through a multi-day cold fermentation in the refrigerator to allow the bacteria and enzymes that are naturally found in the flour to break down the larger starch molecules into simpler sugars for the yeast to feed on. All of this develops texture and flavor in a way that no commercially made additive can.
When I stopped in last Tuesday, Alan most excitedly began telling me about a product that they had found, a garlic infused olive oil, that they would be receiving a sample of the following day. He told me to come back on Thursday and he'd do a test pie for me. So, dutifully I waited the two days and went back. He showed me the bottle and indeed the only two ingredients were garlic and olive oil. It had a lovely garlic nose to it without having any kind of chemical overtone to it. As I waited for my pie to finish cooking, Alan and I discussed how he is also looking to adjust the cheese blend on top of the pizzas. Originally it was a blend of Mozzarella and Provolone cheeses. He was thinking about adding a third cheese, in just a small amount, for added flavor and meltability.
When my pie finally came out, I insisted that Alan and some of his crew members share it with me (as this was the very first pie they had made with the new oil). The garlic flavor was definitely still there, but it was now much more subtle and woven through the other flavors in the slice of pizza. When you had just bites of crust, or just bites of crust and sauce, the garlic was more pronounced. The Garlic Mist had been much more in your face with the garlic flavor. The new oil was smooth and subtle and became more of a supporting character than the primary lead. I was a little torn about this, because while I appreciated the better overall balance the new oil lent to their pizza, as a lover of garlic, I liked the aggressive garlic flavor that came through in every bite of pizza, not just the crust. It's not that I dislike this new version of their pizza, it's definitely still an excellent pie. I just had to readjust my expectations to accommodate the new, more integrated garlic flavor.
It wasn't until the next morning that I was able to try the refrigerated slice test. I pulled the box from the fridge and gingerly opened the lid. I was pleased to find that there was absolutely no chemical smell whatsoever. And even better, my cold slice for breakfast was equally as delicious as it had been hot the night before. I was a happy camper.
I stopped in for another pie last night, giving them a week to make adjustments to their pie-building process. Alan informed me that they had moved to the new cheese blend and had continued to use the new garlic infused oil for the last week with great success. I was eager to give him the feedback that I had been saving all week and it seemed that my feedback was very similar to what others had been telling him.
I won't go on too much more about the Garlic Mist issue any more. You have to understand that when I complained about it before, it was more a matter of wishing that an owner would recognize a weakness in his flagship product and proactively work to correct it. With the changes that Alan and his partners are making, I think that Ermanno's remains one of my top American style pizzas in the area. They are clearly committed to making solid ingredient choices and a great pizza dough with just the right flavor and texture. They are also open to customer feedback, which is always a welcome sign that the business can grow and change as the customers' tastes do.
Check out Ermanno's Three Guys Pizza in both North Canton and Louisville. They still offer a unique pizza that is well-balanced, delicious, and now equally good hot AND cold.