Any of you have one of those places you have been to, that when you are finished eating you think to yourself “Why don’t I eat here more often?” or “When is the next time I’m coming back, Do I have plans tomorrow?” Well that place is this place. Italian Village. Italian Village has been around for a long time, delivers very good food, and is very affordable. Right when you walk in, you will be facing the kitchen with this huge rotating oven in the back. For me, that is has always been one of the intriguing parts of Italian Village. The first time I saw it, I told the guy at the register. “I want whatever you guys bake in that thing. Give it to me.” That was the pizza bender, and it was so good that each ensuing visit to the restaurant, I’ve asked for the same thing.
The pizza bender is pretty much the perfect marriage of a sandwich and a calzone. (I’m actually glad they call it a bender. The word Calzone closely resembles a Spanish word for underwear) What you need to know is it that the crust is excellent, and they stuff it full of cheese and 3 toppings of your choice. On my first visit I asked what a good combination would be, and they suggested pepperoni, sausage, and ham. SOLD. So if I was an archeologist and this was a new species I just discovered, I probably would put it in the Calzone family of food creation, yet it is unique in its own special little way. As such, let me break down why the pizza bender is so good. First, let’s start with the crust. When I think of a good calzone crust, I want something that is light and chewy and will adequately hold in the toppings inside. I can’t be too hard, and it can’t be too much where you are just taking bites of dough. I’ve been to a few places like Big Apple pizza that sells pretty good calzones, but theirs you eat with a fork and knife. These pizza benders you can pick up with your hands, and they give you a really tasty dipping marinara sauce for them. What they accomplish works out nicely. Secondly, as far as toppings go, they have to be fresh, and they have to be tasty. Italian Village gives you a really unique sausage so I really suggest you try it. In fact the house specialty with pepperoni, sausage, and ham goes really well together. Another good combination I like is green peppers, mushrooms, and sausage. Toppings are delicious. Yummy! Thirdly does the calzone have the right amount of cheese inside? Yes you can have too much cheese, because then you are left with just an oily mess, and yes you can have too little cheese. Italian Village knows how to make the pizza bender right. Having worked in restaurants and seen what items are the biggest food costs, I can tell you cheese is near the top of the list. Whenever I get the bender, I never come away filling I did not get my moneys worth, or was still full after eating it. The cheese is not oily, but just enough to interact properly with the toppings. The balance in the bender of crust to cheese to toppings is very nice. Finally the benders with 3 toppings are only $5.79, so IMHO not expensive at all. Even with the marinara sauce at $0.79 extra it is well worth it, because you can dip your pizza bender in it and it tastes so good.
Unfortunately, I’ve never actually dined in at Italian Village or had much else on their menu. My first visit there I was in a hurry and wanted to get something quick, so I got he pizza bender, but ended up just sitting in my car eating my bender and listening to some jams on the radio. That has pretty much become tradition for me. Order pizza bender and sauce. Take it to my car. Turn on the radio and enjoy my bender. The Italian Village will turn your bender around really fast, and I’ve never been disappointed. So there you have it! If you ever pull into Italian Village and see a dude sitting in a blue Honda Accord that looks like he enjoying his pizza bender a little too much, just carry on, and go get your own bender!