A new pizza place to try: Black Point Pizza
This newspaper has dedicated no shortage of space to the ubiquity of pizza places in our region. We take pizza seriously around here; for some, the number of take-out pizza joints is an indicator of a location’s level of enlightenment. This is the land of Pepe’s, after all.
So when Black Point Pizza in Niantic popped up on my radar, I, as one of those serious pizza people mentioned above, planned a visit in an effort to update my ever-expanding pizza-place map. That BPP is nestled in the adorable neighborhood just a skip from Smith’s Acres adds a nice touch for the non-local traveler.
Naturally, our sampling excursions had to include a few pies, and the task landed us in indecision for some time thanks to BPP’s appetizing list of Specialty Pizzas. In the end, we approached our selections from opposite ends of a spectrum: one Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza ($14 for a small, $18 for a large) and one (meatless) Margarita Pizza ($13 for a small, $16 for a large). Despite its intriguing toppings of bacon, ground beef, tomato slices, and onions, the Bacon Cheeseburger took second place to the more modestly appointed Margarita. To me, the onions (sliced into thin, beautiful curls) overpowered much of everything else — including the bacon — and the beef offered little in the flavor department to combat the onions. Still, the pizza was more than serviceable and beautifully constructed. I would consider ordering it again without the onions.
Also, we felt the crust on our Margarita pie was more nuanced and flavorful than that on our bacon-'burger pie, which was fine and better than some but lacked the moisture and texture of our Marg crust.
Perhaps it’s the simplicity of the Marg’s basic medley of fresh mozzarella, tomato slices, and basil that set it apart from its meatier competition. It’s hard to go wrong with that classic mix of flavors, but BPP’s fresh mozzarella was particularly flavorful; the tomatoes, roasted to perfection in the pizza oven, melded beautifully with the cheese amid pops of green basil bursts. This pizza is on the Order Again list.
Joining it is the sausage and peppers grinder ($9), which at first glance looked unexciting, but at first bite we wondered what magic went into its ingredients. In this preparation, the tomato sauce is equally as delicious as the main-attraction sausage; it was bright and tangy and chunky and delicious. As for the sausage, we’re calling it medium spicy, and it was cooked to perfection, neither too soft nor too tough. Such a generous serving of sauciness needs a sturdy vehicle, and BPP chose wisely, opting for a crusty grinder roll — all the better for supporting your fillings than rolls of the softer variety, which too often turn to mush when carrying hearty fillings.
One question mark we’re left with is the Mussels Pot ($10) appetizer, a bowl of steamed mussels in a broth that we suspect includes white wine, stock of some sort, and a smattering of garlic. It’s possible our taste buds weren’t firing on all cylinders that night, but between two of us, we each encountered a few mussels that did not represent the best and brightest of mussel-dom. We also encountered some that were just fine and enjoyable although modestly flavorful. Still, the not-great mussels gave us pause (as they would anyone who’s had even one bad digestive experience with seafood), and after a spin by our table, our excellent server noticed that we weren’t digging into the dish with relish. She kindly asked if anything was amiss; normally, we would’ve just chalked it up to a few mussels having an off day and left it at that, but her genuine concern prompted us to come clean and confess that a few mussels had taken the wind from our sails. Without the slightest hint of bother, she offered to take the Mussel Pot off our check, and her graciousness in so doing made it clear no sour grapes would be served for dessert. Indeed, she brought us a gratis slice of limoncello mascarpone cake ($6, not made in-house) instead, after we turned down her offer to bring us some complimentary salads or another appetizer after she’d taken the mussels back to the kitchen. She was so kind and courteous that in the end WE felt badly for adding an extra trip to the kitchen to her night.
On another night, we made a dinner of BPP’s Stuffed Rigatoni ($15, with a side salad) and Pasta Fagioli (very fairly priced at $4). The hearty nature of the dishes and generous portions resulted in full bellies and leftovers for the next day’s lunch. We enjoyed the rigatoni well enough — we filed it under Good, not Great — but it got better the next day, after the rich flavors of the thick bolognese sauce had time to infuse more deeply into the large tubes of pasta and the ricotta cheese within them.
The Pasta Fagioli might’ve been more accurately titled Tomato Soup with Beans and Pasta, as our sample presented far more tomato flavor than the rich beef and garlic we’ve tasted in most other versions of the dish. There’s little to dislike when beans and pasta are so plentiful and cooked properly in a rich, tomato base, as they were in our soup that night, but we were surprised and a little underwhelmed at the tomato-forward flavor.
But Black Point Pizza offers many good surprises, including the scope of its menu (which includes a few burger options); a house wine list that goes beyond the standard, tired bottles offered elsewhere; wonderful service; its charming, spotless dining room; and its cozy location off the main drag of Niantic, among others. I suspect come summertime, Black Point Pizza will be pleasantly surprising throngs of visitors and locals alike.
Black Point Pizza
44 Black Point Road, Niantic
Cuisine: Italian inspired menu of mostly pizza, pasta, and grinders; beer and wine available
Atmosphere: Beach house chic with soothing shades of color on the walls, lots of booth space, and tasteful furniture
Service: Warm, welcoming, and professional
Prices: Won't break the bank; a large cheese pizza is $12. The most expensive item, off the Specialty Pizza list, is a large Seafood pizza (topped with shrimp, bay scallops, baby clams and calamari). The priciest entrée is shrimp over linguini for $19
Hours: Tuesday and Wednesday, 3:30-9 p.m.; Thursday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sunday, noon-9 p.m.
Credit cards: Accepted
Handicapped accessibility: Ample parking around the side of the restaurant and no stairs to enter; ramp access and handicapped parking available right out front
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