La Nova (Italian for, The Nova) is another giant in the Buffalo pizza game and has a rich and fascinating history that you can feel free to speculate upon in the comments if you like. They stick by their claim that they are the “#1 Independent Pizzeria in America”. No idea if that is on volume sales, dollar sales, customer satisfaction, or a Yelp review some guy did. Anyhow, La Nova has been around since 1957, and when you arrive at their Buffalo storefront, it’s not hard to believe. It’s no secret that La Nova isn’t in the best neighborhood. Back in ’57 I’m sure the area was quite different, but I was pleasantly shocked when I got inside. The place was bustling, and to date has by far my favorite interior and setup of any I’ve visited. It is immaculate! All the pies are sitting under glass and the open-flame warming oven is in plain view. The smell was intoxicating. The staff were engaging everyone, and the line moved efficiently. Lots of happy kids and people in “La Nova” shirts running around. You can instantly tell it is a staple in the community.
Here I am with a pie they had prepared, but I told them “Look, deep down I’m just a regular guy. Let’s get some regular slices here, eh? Also, fuck the Pats.” They obliged. 2/$5.60 at dinner time. I think its even cheaper at lunch. Great value.
I’m getting that old familiar feeling at this point. These look amazing. You might be thinking to yourself, “but sexyslices, there are 2 slices of different pepperoni pizza there…WHAT GIVES?!” I’m so glad you asked, my fiery little friend. Herein lies the crux of the review. La Nova has 2 styles of pepperoni that I’m told are made especially for them. When I was asked if I wanted beef or pork pepperoni, in a stroke of genius I replied “why don’t we get a little of both?” The classic “old woman at a desert buffet” move. We’re gonna get down on both these sexy slices. Literally, 2 different animals here. Let’s get physical.
This is the beef pepperoni. These are a little like Bella Pizza’s. They are large, laid relatively flat, thin, and very crispy. Subtle spiciness, and smoky. If you’ve ever had a beef sausage, there is a little bit of that action going on. Form here forward, this shall be referred to as “Slice 1”, but feel free to name it as you wish.
This is the pork. Our old friend. Chewy, deliciously fatty, distinctly spicy, and maybe a little too charred. A precursor for what was to come, friends. Foreshadowing if you will. Garrulous, if you won’t. Henceforth, this shall be “Slice 2”, a narrow winner over the title “Slice 1-A”. Both these pepperonis are dope on a rope, by the way, and the record will reflect that.
Cheese on Slice 1 is amazing. The whole pie that the slice came from looked fresh, and the cheese was already slightly gooey when she put it in the oven. This last step just bubbled it up a little bit. The cheese at La Nova is a thick layer. Not too thick, though. Like Mariah Carey, or Beyoncé thick.
Cheese on Slice 2 improved upon what I thought was already perfect. Clearly, this hit a little more heat than Slice 1. I love those browned patches. It forms a tissue paper thin crust over the slice, and underneath is stringy gold. The cheese is dynamite.
La Nova’s sauce is possibly their most defining factor. There was more sauce on these slices than anywhere I’ve had yet. By a LONG shot. Easily twice as much as some others. I’m at the crust in this shot, an area that is historically a desert for pizza sauce, and it was literally dripping off the slice. I happen to be a fan of this, but I could just as easily see it being a turn-off. That being said, I really am not a huge fan of La Nova’s sauce. It is velvety, rich, very very thick…but sweet. #2 or #3 on the rankings from sugar to vinegar. As you might know, sweet isn’t my thing. Strictly personal preference.
Crust gets scored in with the dough review. This crust is the best yet. I love sesame seeds. It distinctly reminded me of dipping seeded Italian bread into spaghetti cause. I think this adds a nice touch to the pie, but if you’re not into it, you’re shit out of luck, bud. Most, if not all of the pies I saw at La Nova (for individual slice sales) has sesame seeds on the crust. I don’t know anybody who is adamantly against them, but I’m sure you’re out there. I wish more places had flavor crust options. Even a garlic spread or something of the sort would be a nice option that wouldn’t take too much effort.
This is Slice 1 (beef pep) dough. Although La Nova’s dough isn’t as thick as others, it is sure a hell bready. There is a fair amount of cheese and pep on this pie, so the soft dough soaks up grease like a sponge. Kind of a floppy slice. Although it had nice flavor and a good browning pattern, its just a little too spongy for me. Really shocking considering the way the bottom looks and how relatively thin it is compared to some of the other slices I’ve had in the past.
This…is Slice 2. This has been the hardest thing to get through while reviewing the other elements of Slice 2. They burnt the shit out of the dough. BURNT. This pie is blackened. Burned harder than the Zip’s slices. I would give it an F, but that is reserved for something inedible and I ate the whole slice so I can’t really put that out there. I was worried this might happen. Before the slice went into the oven for a warm up, it already looked a little “done”. The pepperoni had a nice char, and the cheese was fairly browned. It was definitely an older pie than what Slice 1 came from to begin with. If you’re going with the reheat technique in an oven with an open flame, it’s probably best to ¾ cook the pie, or something like that. This was bad, and I was fortunate that I ordered two different slices. If I had gotten 2 slices of just this pie, we would have a much different review.
Dough 1🥖: (B+) Saved be sesame seeds. A little chewy, greasy, and floppy.
Dough 2🥖: (D-) Burnt to a crisp.
Cheese 1🧀: (A) Delicious and thick.
Cheese 2🧀: (A/A+) Prefect brown & bubble. Maybe personal preference, but is this possible to achieve this without burning the other parts?.
Sauce 1&2🥫: (B) Awesome distribution. Would have scored a ton higher if I liked sweet.
Pepperoni 1🍖: (A) The beef pepperoni is so unique and delicious. Crispy and smoky. A must try.
Pepperoni 2🍖: (B+) The pork was fatty, spicy, chewy, but a little too charred.
Overall 1🍕: BEEF PEP (B+/A-)
Overall 2🍕: PORK PEP (B-)
Overall COMBINED🍕: (B/B+)
Even being burned, Slice 2’s cheese and pepperoni lifted it from “bad” to a “below average” status. Slice 1 was fantastic quality, but the dough and sauce just aren’t 100% my thing. Gotta average them together though to get the full score of the experience. A lot of potential in La Nova. At first glance I thought a true #1 contender, but the burned slice and the sauce & dough combo brought it back down for me. Absolutely could be your slice though based on preferences. Thank you for your service, La Nova!