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$29 & Under: Caputo’s offers good reason to fall in love with pizza again

$29 & Under: Caputo’s offers good reason to fall in love with pizza again

Caputo’s has made me remember why I like pizza. It joins several locally-owned pizza parlors already

Caputo’s Pizzeria

WHERE: Watkins Plaza, 1679 Route 9, Clifton Park. 383-9800, www.caputospizzeria.com

WHEN: Daily, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

HOW MUCH: $18.85

MORE INFO: Credit cards: Discover, Master Card, Visa, American Express. Wheelchair accessible.

One hot night a few weeks ago, husband Eric and I got a couple of slices each, take out, from the local pizza joint for a late dinner. They were doughy, heavy, dry, and our jaws were tired after one slice. We wrapped the others and had them for a half-hearted lunch the next day.

Caputo’s has made me remember why I like pizza.

It joins several locally-owned pizza parlors already in the Clifton Park/Halfmoon area, but this place might be the best of them. Their pizza is thin, browned on the bottom, a little crispy even, with the right amount of sauce, and melty, salty cheese. There’s even a little oil on top, which I really like.

Second location

This is the second Caputo’s; the first is in the Home Depot Plaza in Saratoga Springs. I had heard very good things about the pizza there, and looked forward to visiting this one, which opened in June.

The owners did a nice job on the place, which is at the far end of Watkin’s Plaza on Route 9, near Lowe’s. The restaurant is at the north end of the plaza, just down from the J & S Watkins, and you’ll find their cheesecake at Caputo’s.

The first thing you see is the glass case with the pizza slices and the pizza ovens beyond. The wood tables in the dining area on the right complement the brick-faced wall and the tile floors. A self-serve soda fountain and coolers are in the back. You’ll notice the attractive valences in warm colors on the windows, and sheers, even.

Decor isn’t as important as good food, and pizza parlors don’t need much ambiance, but Caputo’s has gone to some trouble to make the place look nice, which you’ll appreciate.

I’m on a diet, so I was determined to eat light. One slice of cheese pizza won’t wreck my diet if it’s the only thing between a healthy breakfast and dinner. Mom, already a Caputo’s convert, and I arrived at about 1 o’clock as the lunch crowd was winding down.

Drawn to wings

I ordered a plain cheese slice ($2.25), Mom got a sausage and pepper roll ($4.99), and we shared a spiral thing that looked kind of like a pecan roll, except it was filled with spinach and ricotta ($2). Since Caputo’s wings are advertised in neon, I made the snap decision to get an order ($6.99 per dozen). They must be pretty confident about them.

Mom chose a table in the back where I could write notes unobserved. We brought our food over on paper plates, which were not quite up to the task. You might ask for several plates together.

Caputo’s pizza slices can be folded, and there’s not so much dough that it’s work to eat. The first bite was cracker-thin. The dog is out of luck, because you’ll want to eat this crust. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft within, and it won’t stuff you either.

The pizza was so good it needs another paragraph. There was plenty of fresh-tasting red sauce, and I mean fresh. This pizza sauce had fresh basil in it; I tasted it along with the cheese and the tomato and it jumped out at me not once but twice. Fresh basil. In pizza sauce. I’m still awed by it.

Mom was working away at the sausage and pepper roll and making happy noises. She showed me the roll; it was mostly filling in a thin crust of pizza dough. She loved it and put aside half to take home. It comes with a plastic cup of their red sauce, which was so good I wish I could buy it to take home, and Mom found a whole garlic clove in hers.

Pleasing pinwheel

Our spinach pinwheel was stuffed with lots of spinach, pancetta, ricotta and red pepper, and just enough thinly rolled dough to hold the thing together. We each had a quarter, expressed our satisfaction, and moved on to the wings.

The wings come in a wide-brimmed plastic bowl, black, which adds a bit of panache. Regular readers of this column know I like my wings extra crispy, and these were. They were not the roaster-sized wings, but the original ones, slim and not too filling; they’re not intended to be a meal. They took a bath in medium-calibre hot sauce, then fell into the bowl, where a generous quantity of sauce ran to the bottom for easy dipping. Mom liked the carrots and the cup of Ken’s blue cheese dressing with the foil top thoughtfully pulled back.

We made good use of the napkin dispensers provided on the tables. During a lull, someone tidied up the tables. We brought the leftovers to the counter, where we were given those round aluminum pans with plastic tops.

The total for lunch, with a shared bottle of diet Pepsi, came to $18.85, not including what I put in the tip jar.

Caputo’s Pizzeria also offers appetizers, wraps, salads and soups. The chicken parm is $12.99 and comes with pasta and salad. You’ll find pasta entrees like lasagna and penne a la vodka for $10.99 including salad. Entrees are made up of all the permutations involving chicken, veal and shrimp: Parmigiana, Marsala, Francaise and piccatta, priced at $12.99 or $13.99, with salad and pasta, which seems pretty good to me. And they deliver.

You have to appreciate the effort Caputo’s has put into this attractive restaurant. But the pizza is what makes a pizzeria’s reputation, and Caputo’s is solid.

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