The Curmudgeon Reviews…Wall Street Pizzeria

It's…THEMATIC!  [*cymbal crash*]

[Insert generic "bears and bulls" joke here]

The Curmudgeon and his family recently embarked on a fine Tuesday evening to one of Mrs. Curmudgeon’s favorite haunts, Sopapilla’s in Cool Springs1. However, it was on a wait. At 6:00 p.m. On a Tuesday.

There is no restaurant in this city that is worth waiting for at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday when so many other options are nearby. It’s like we’re all a bunch of sheep, going to that one restaurant because that’s just what we do, unable to break out of any sort of routine. “If there’s a wait, it must be popular! And therefore good!”

If there’s any one thing The Curmudgeon would like to teach people, it is that popular ≠ good. You can’t turn off your brain2 or your tongue just because your friends all say something is delicious — after all, these are the same friends who told you that Chik-Fil-A was “spicy.”

At any rate, The Curmudgeon did not feel like waiting with two small children at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night, so he and his family embarked for the newly-opened Wall Street Pizzeria next door. Until recently that location was some sort of oyster bar or some such thing that seems so very out of place in a land-locked location such as Middle Tennessee. Shocking that it closed, for sure.

Wall Street Pizzeria bills itself as “The Best Pizza not on Wall Street.” That is, of course, a laughable claim on its face, and it’s surprising that the local Chicago mafia3 hasn’t defaced the place in some way just out of principle. Regardless, the native New Yorker, Mrs. Curmudgeon, was itching to compare it to what she grew up with.

With the exception of one person at the bar, the place was totally empty. Granted, it did just open up a month ago, but that is not a particularly good sign. Especially for a location where a couple of other restaurants have already failed, leading one to believe that it could be one of those cursed locations that carry the plague known as The Restaurant Death4. The person who was presumably the owner could be seen at various points in the evening with the Thousand-Yard Stare in his eyes — never a good sign.

At least service was attentive; it’s not like they had much else to do. An order was placed for garlic knots, and two different varieties of pizza: Cheese and Black Friday.

As the menu comes up in discussion, it’s worth noting that this is one of those restaurants: the kind that feels maybe their food isn’t good enough to stand up on its own, so they choose some random theme and drench the menu in it, to the point where you’d swear you were in some Disney park where the servers all wear Tomorrowland costumes. Mais, non.

Right here in Cool Springs, a thousand miles away from Wall Street, you can find a menu with categories like “Opening Bell” and “Green Backs” (that’d be appetizers and salads, if you needed that spelled out) and pizzas such as the aforementioned Black Friday. Because nothing’s more enjoyable than spending a nice family outing eating a dish named after a horrible stock crash that sent traders jumping to their deaths out of high-rise windows, right? Right?

Anyway, menu proclivities aside, you care about the food, n’est pas? The garlic knots were … well, they were braids, not knots. That being said, though, they looked and smelled quite nice. Crisp yet soft, golden brown and glistening with garlic oil and butter. Many a mouth was watering when they hit the table. And then on the first bite: NOOOOOOOO!

That’s right, there was basically no detectable salt content in the dough. There was probably a teeny tiny bit somewhere in the recipe, but for all practical intents and purposes this was saltless, and as we know saltless dough is one of the Four Mortal Sins of cooking5. This was a real shame, as the dough was otherwise quite well-made. Texture and crust were all nice and pretty, but at the end of the day, it still tasted a bit too, um, well, it didn’t taste of anything, was the problem.

The pizza fared similarly: overall pretty good with the exception of the severe lack of salt in the dough. The sauce? Not bad. The cheese was proclaimed by Mrs. Curmudgeon to be the closest she’s had to New York. The ingredients were fine with the exception that all the vegetables needed to be diced much more finely — receiving (quite literally) 1/3 of a green pepper in a single chunk is never a good thing.

But, ultimately, even cheese that can do your taxes and pepperoni that can pick up your kids from daycare can’t make up for woefully unseasoned dough, and this was the downfall of the entire meal.

The waitress asked if we had any comments at the end, since they’re still working on getting the place up to speed. Since The Curmudgeon is a good-hearted guy6, he gently informed them that quadrupling the salt content in the dough would go a long way toward their success. Speaking as someone who spent more than two years perfecting a New York-style pizza dough recipe, he’s not just blowing smoke out of his ass7.

So perhaps Wall Street Pizzeria can fix the problems they have. They are young, still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before being beaten down by the cares of the world — or liquor taxes. Pizza in Nashville is in a pretty sorry state8, and it would be nice to have a strong contender for the pizza crown. Well, the 2nd-place crown, at least.

P.S.: A fun fact about reviews, social media, and popularity: The ridiculously happenin’ Sopapillas, as of this writing, has a 79% thumbs-up rate on Urban Spoon. The desolate Wall Street Pizzeria? 93%. What does that mean? That’s up for you to decide.

  1. “What? I thought this was about some pizza place!” []
  2. which may entail turning it on first, for some people []
  3. Not the real mafia, just all those crazy ex-Chicagoans who take their heritage so seriously and clog up sports bars on Sundays wearing black jerseys with the names of fragile 2nd-rate quarterbacks on the back []
  4. The Restaurant Death is a location in which no restaurant can seem to survive for long. An obvious example would be that place on the SW corner of Harding and Nolensville that’s been like 10 restaurants in the last eight years. []
  5. Don’t ask what the other three are. They are too terrible to even mention. []
  6. No, really! He’s just misunderstood! []
  7. This time, at least. []
  8. Perhaps you disagree with this statement. Perhaps you are a fool. []
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