South Carolina: Vanwall Special in Charleston

It had been two weeks since my Kentucky incident pizza excursion, and it was time to take down a pizza closer to home. Yet again, Co-pilot Brandon was in for this one. I’m starting to notice that when there’s food involved, he’s down like Mississippi’s SAT scores. Brandon was in Savannah for the weekend, but having lived in the Carolinas for several years, he still has friends there. Two of those friends just welcomed their first child into the world in Charleston, so we killed two birds with one stone. Brandon got to welcome his new buddy, and I got to consume my South Carolina pizza.

Forgoing a Saturday morning sleep in, we made a Starbucks run for my morning latte and two Artisan breakfast sandwiches and hit the road. After jumping off of I-95, it was time for a pit stop, and where did we just happen to pull into but a curb store with a TCBY? Again the jokes of, “Haha, let’s eat fro-yo at 10AM!” turned into the reality of us eating frozen yogurt at 10AM. Always with the food.

After visiting with Brandon’s friends, I was just in a good mood to have been around two people who are just happy and excited. New parents always terrify me, because you never know what you’re going to get. However, I am driven by my hunger. If I’m hungry, don’t even bother talking to me. You could offer me free designer handbags, and unless there were hotdogs in them, I wouldn’t be happy.

This was my third trip to Charleston (ever), and I was starting to get the layout of the city. We were looking for Monza on King Street, and since we’re in the low tide of tourist season right now, it was easy to find a spot relatively close to the restaurant. As we were walking in, I noticed that there was an article on the door. Wait… wait… It wasn’t just an article. It was a Zagat article. A Zagat article about… you guessed it… the 50 best pizzas in each state. FINALLY. I was surprised that more of the places I’ve been haven’t been boasting this! However, I did, in true woman fashion, proceed to analyze why this might be. All of the other places I’ve been have multiple locations, so it probably wasn’t the same as Monza who, as far as I can tell, only has the one location. Either way, pure excitement rushed over me that I wasn’t the only person in the world paying attention to this list.

South Carolina 2

 The restaurant have a very cool modern yet quaint atmosphere, and there’s a bar you can sit at that overlooks a giant wood fire pizza oven, where you can watch the cooks toss dough, assemble toppings, and slide pizzas into a fire that would surely mean the loss of a limb if I were to try to do that. Brandon picked a pizza and his toppings, then ran back to feed the meter, leaving me with the terrifying task of ordering for him. No, no, no… It couldn’t be something on the menu, he had to build his own. I repeated the order in my head over and over until I was distracted by something on the menu. You could have a sunny-side-up egg cracked atop your pizza if you felt so inclined. I have the rule of not altering the Zagat pizzas, so I couldn’t do it to mine, but I did add it to his. Ladies, if you’re ever going to take this kind of risk with a man’s food order, you better be really sure when you do it. The waitress came, I ordered his pizza (with egg! HA!) and then ordered the Vanwall Special for myself.

So here’s Zagat’s photo and review:

South Carolina- Vanwall Special at Monza in Charleston

Named after a legendary Italian raceway, Monza’s racecar theme may not be the classic Italian atmosphere of most pizzerias, but there’s no doubt they take their pies seriously. The Neapolitan pies feature locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and a good part of their appeal lies in the crust. The dough is made with imported San Felice wheat flour and natural Neapolitan yeast, then wood-fired at 1,000 degrees. The Vanwall Special features local white shrimp, pesto, mozzarella and tomatoes, and you can taste all that attention to detail.

Now here’s mine… and remember that I have a fear of being seen taking photos of my food in public, so they’re likely never going to be GREAT photos.

South Carolina

There’s some good, some bad, and some ugly to this pizza. The Good: It was awesome. The crust was perfectly done, the flavors all tied together well. The Bad: There were only 8 shrimp on it, but they were at least large. However, it’s almost impossible to get a good bite of pizza and shrimp. I ended up just picking the shrimp off and eating them separately. I’m sure they have to be large not to over-cook in the oven, but there has to be some sort of compromise here. I wanted the shrimp flavor to tie in, not be picked off. The Ugly: Brandon’s pizza was so much better than mine, and the egg (which he was indeed thrilled about) made the pizza. It makes me all the more excited to eventually get to the Sunny Side Up Pizza in Cleveland.

All-in-all VERY cool atmosphere. It would probably be a great first date spot. It’s nice enough that you don’t feel like you’re in a pizza joint, but not fancy enough to be considered even close to upscale. Go. Try it. ADD THE EGG!! Next up: Fish Creek, Wisconsin



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