Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Old Orchard Beach Unofficial Pizza Showdown

Ask the locals and the tourists at Old Orchard Beach where you can find the best pizza and you'll get two different answers: Rocco's and Bill's. It's not very surprising that they're both located across the street from one another, right between the busy pier.

Dubbed, by Thomas Rogers, as "The Garden By The Sea" in 1657, Old Orchard Beach was once home to Rogers' apple orchard. In the late 1800's there was a concerted effort to make Old Orchard Beach into a tourist hot spot, which it still is to this day. With seven miles of beach, many shops, hotels, and eateries, it's no wonder that OOB attracts people from everywhere. French is commonly heard around the area because there is a large population of Quebecois who travel down to enjoy the sun, waves, and pizza...

Last weekend my husband and I decided to spend a quiet day on the beach, by the pier. Tourist season is over in Maine but there were still a few stragglers, older folks with a RV and no kids, who like to stroll the beach in straw hats and bare feet. We walked until we built up an appetite, and pizza sounded like a good choice. There were two options before us and we decided then and there on an unofficial pizza competition. Bill's had a small crowd milling around while Rocco's only had one or two people. We crossed the street to Bill's, ordered a pepperoni slice each, found a seat that wasn't staked out by seagulls and ate.

The pizza crust was slightly thicker than what we were used to, the pepperonis were well-spaced, the sauce had a subtle tang, and the cheese was mozzarella with a hint of parmesan. 

Then we crossed the street and had pizza from Rocco's. 

Their pizza crust was thinner, the sauce had a subtle tang, the pepperonis were salty and spicy, the cheese didn't compete with the rest of the pizza. We ate the pizzas while watching the people walk by, some in shorts, some in jackets. Then we came to a unanimous (but still unofficial) winner. And it was:

Rocco's Pizza.

We both liked the "classic" taste, chew, feel to the pizza. The hand pulled and tossed dough was chewy and crisp. The flavors were mellow and blended so well. There was grease but that's what makes pizza great. Bill's pizza was too soggy, had too much of a parmesan tang that took away from the flavor of the pizza, and the pepperonis weren't that good. Also, bonus points went to Rocco's because Rocco was standing there making pizzas by hand, while Bill's had girls who were busy chattering away, checking their texts, and flirting with the passersby. Bill's might have been a better view for the crowd but Rocco's had better taste.

We ended our little excursion with fried dough from Rocco's, topped liberally with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Highly recommended. Didn't take a picture though because the wind blew powdered sugar into my face, hair, and hands, and I couldn't take out my camera. ;o)

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