The $10 Challenge: Papalinos NY Pizzeria

A big ol' slice of Papalinos.

(Blogger’s note: No one guessed this location. Let’s try again this week.)

I received a firm affirmation that Rob is The One when we stopped in Papalinos NY Pizzeria for a quick dinner.

I wolfed down a slice of pizza with the speed and vigor of a teenage boy while my better half shook his head and stared in amazement instead of fleeing down Baxter Avenue.

I had eaten at Papalinos once before with a group of girlfriends before Catholic trivia night (we party hard, y’all). This was a situation in which the company overshadowed the food, and I was more focused on giggling with the girls than taking note of the nuances of pizza. So I decided to return to Papalinos with my normal partner-in-food, who is willing to forgo dinner conversation so I could stuff my face and take notes about it.

A rotating and sometimes surprising list of toppings and straight-from-the-oven freshness have made Papalinos, a relative newcomer to the Louisville pizza scene, a place that is worth going to more than once.

At a glance, Papalinos doesn’t seem so different from other places serving up New York-style pizza, a genre characterized by gigantic slices served on a paper plate. But Papalinos adds its own touch to this familar category of pizza. The restaurant makes many of its toppings in house, such as Italian sausage, meatballs, cured bacon and roasted red peppers. The crust is crisper than its more malleable counterparts (such as Spinelli’s), which makes folding the slice in half more difficult but holds up well under the weight of hearty toppings.

Papalinos puts most of its energy into its pizza, therefore only offers a few additions to the menu — breadsticks ($5), salads ($6), calzones ($10), canoli ($3) or Italian ice ($2). But with such good pizza, there’s really no need to dress up the menu. Stick with what you know, I say.

A slice of pizza begins at a budget-friendly $3. Veggies are an addition 50 cents each, and meat toppings are 75 cents apiece. Papalinos also offers toppings of the day, which can range from sauteed peppers and onions to roasted squash to blackened shrimp. The possibilities of topping combinations can make it difficult to place an order. On both visits to Papalinos, I was the person who let other people cut line while I studied the menu.

For the Challenge, I selected a slice of pizza with roasted red peppers, spinach and green peppers. Because each slice is made to order, I had to wait about 10 minutes for my pizza. It was well worth the wait. The red peppers, which are roasted in-house, were juicy and tangy and were my favorite topping of the three I selected. The spinach and green peppers were tasty, as well. The whole thing was piping hot, which forced me to eat the slice with my mouth half open to let  in some cool air. It wasn’t a pretty scene. Sure, I could have waited for the pizza to cool off, but my belly wasn’t having the wait.

One slice of Papalinos pizza is a very sufficient meal that will leave you with some spare dollars for a beer or fountain drink. And the pizza is good enough to justify gobbling it down in a hurry – even if it is embarassing to loved ones.

Notes about Papalinos:

  • Follow Papalinos on Twitter to find out what the restaurant is offering as the toppings of the day (or TOTD as the pizzeria refers to them).
  • The dining area of this narrow restaurant can get crowded quickly. On a nice day, eat outside so you have a bit more elbow room. Or have a seat at a counter, a great place to people watch on Baxter. But stay close enough so you can hear your order called.
  • The restaurant is open until 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and it delivers to you folks in the Highlands (lucky).
  • Papalinos recently introduced a frequent buyer’s card. Present this at the counter, and you get a hole punch for each slice you buy. After five slices, your sixth one is free.

The Facts:

Papalinos NY Pizzeria, 947-949 Baxter Avenue, Louisville, Ky.

One slice of pizza: $3

Red peppers, spinach and green peppers: $1.50 (50 cents each)

Total (with tax): $4.77

Mission: Accomplished (EASILY)

7 thoughts on “The $10 Challenge: Papalinos NY Pizzeria

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