Pizza's pull



Underneath every 12-topping deep-dish is the same simple foundation: cheese pizza. If the tomato sauce, cheese and crust don't come together, the whole pie doesn't taste right -- no matter how much is piled on top. Here's a sampling of cheese pizza from four local restaurants.

Fortunato Brothers

6374 York Road -- 410-377-7300

Hours --10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to midnight Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday

On a slice of cheese pizza, $1.60, Fortunato Brothers nails the crust. It's crisp, not singed and crunches loudly when you bite down into it. There's also plenty of cheese and sauce that hold their own but aren't quite as good as the crust.

Al Pacino Cafe

900 Cathedral St. -- 410-962-8859

Hours --11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily

Pizza comes only by the pie at Al Pacino Cafe, but it's worth the extra dough. A small, $7.30, has extra-thin crust with a blanket of cheese above and a dusting of flour underneath. There's not much tomato sauce but you won't miss it -- the cheese and crust combo are enough to make your mouth water.

Pizza John's

113 Back River Neck Road, Essex -- 410-687-7733

Hours --11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday

A slice of cheese, $1.84, comes piping hot at Pizza John's. The ingredients were fresh and the crust was crunchy, but there was a thick layer of grease pooled in creases on top of the cheese and dripping off the sides. Plenty of grease is understandable on pepperoni pizza, not cheese.

Brick Oven Pizza

800 S. Broadway -- 410-563-1600

Hours --11 a.m. to midnight Sunday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday

This restaurant proves how crucial the oven is to a slice of cheese, $2. The pizza was evenly baked so that the cheese sank a little into the tomato sauce, which sank a little into the crust and made for a consistent, tasty snack. Brick Oven also adds tiny bread crumbs to the bottom of the crust.

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