Review: The dough, re, mi's of pizza

It's all about the crust, not the toppings, at Blue Line Pizza

According to pizza.com, there are more than 61,000 pizzerias in the United States. Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza each day (about 350 slices per second). Pizzerias represent 17 percent of all restaurants in the United States.

Here on the Midpeninsula alone, there are more than 100 restaurants serving pizza between Menlo Park and Los Altos. The upshot is: Muscling into the business isn't easy. But, build a better mousetrap and ...

Blue Line Pizza in Mountain View hasn't reinvented the wheel. However, it's found a niche that few local pizza restaurants occupy: cornmeal-crusted, Chicago-style, deep-dish pizza, with the crust being the crucial element.

Pizzeria Uno, in the Windy City, is credited with inventing deep-dish pizza in the 1940s, but it was Gino's East (after hiring a cook from Uno's) who popularized the genre and has been a Chi-town hot spot since the 1970s. The Gino's deep-dish never appealed to me: too much dough, heavy, ponderous, a fleet of toppings that sat on the stomach like a cannonball for hours. The yellow gold crust seemed a tad artificial.

Popular belief is that Gino's and Uno use cornmeal to achieve golden crusts. While their recipes are proprietary, there is some evidence to suggest wheat and malted barley flours and colorings, not cornmeal, gives the golden hue. Some pizza operators use combinations of wheat flour and cornmeal. Not so at Blue Line. Their deep-dish pizzas really do have a cornmeal crust. Wheat flour is used for the thin-crusted offerings.

Why cornmeal crust? It is lighter than wheat flour, doesn't have a doughy taste, is less refined and (some say) more nutritious than wheat flour, and delivers good flavor with a nice crunch. It's also easier for the kitchen to handle because the cornmeal is pressed into the baking dish and not rolled out or twirled. It is a very different take on the traditional Neapolitan flatbread pizza.

Open since late June, Blue Line Pizza is an extension of Little Star Pizza in San Francisco, owned by Brian Sadigursky. He teamed with Angela Pace to open Blue Line, which also has branches in Campbell and Burlingame. The name derives from the Chicago Transit Authority train line (CTA) that runs from O'Hare through downtown Chicago, the ancestral home of deep-dish pizza.

"We wanted to expand the scope of our pizza business, lunch in particular," managing partner Angela Pace said. "We added salads, panini, desserts and a children's menu. In the near future, we should have a full bar to complement our beer and wine business."

Deep-dish pizzas take 25 to 30 minutes to bake. The deep-dish pizzas are visually deceptive, too, as the diameter is smaller than one might expect. Yet they are inches thick and quite filling. Don't be fooled by the diameter.

On a recent visit, I found the signature Blue Line deep-dish pizza overladen with rich tomato sauce, spinach, ricotta and feta cheeses, mushrooms, onion and garlic. The meatball pizza was similar with red bell peppers as well. Both were delicious: compositions of baked-in savory flavors. The crusts had a subtle crunch that added to the depth and character of flavors.

Deep-dish pizza comes in six varieties and three sizes: individual ($8.95), small 9-inch ($17.85-$18.95) and large 12-inch ($17-$24.25). The thin-crusted offerings are similarly priced with slightly different varieties.

The White Pie thin-crust pizza was enticing with its garlic-infused olive oil base, roasted zucchini, feta and fresh tomatoes. The crust was not blistered and the rim was uniformly browned, flavorful and crisp with a slight crunch, just enough to hold the toppings.

Salads are salads, more or less, and I don't devote time describing them in reviews. The Blue Line Mixed Salad ($6.25/$9.75), though, is worth a few words. It had eye appeal and was piled high with crisp organic greens, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, red onion, gorgonzola and chopped walnuts, all tossed in a house-made vinaigrette. It amplified the appetite.

Caramel apple bread pudding ($5.95) was a tasty finish with house-baked bread, spiced apples and caramel sauce, with a side scoop of vanilla gelato.

A children's menu, half-baked pizzas for take-home, and gluten-free crust options are all available. There is no delivery service, but to-go orders can be picked up on Wild Cherry Lane behind the restaurant. Overall, Blue Line is pizza worth diving into.

Info: Blue Line Pizza

146 Castro St., Mountain View



Hours: Sun.-Thu. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

Reservations: no

Credit cards: yes

Parking: city lots

Alcohol: beer and wine

Children: yes

Catering: no

Takeout: yes

Outdoor dining: yes

Private parties: no

Noise level: moderate

Bathroom cleanliness: excellent


Like this comment
Posted by Jaden
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 5, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Soooo happy that I saw this article! I've been to the Blue Line in Burlingame (and it's excellent) but didn't know there's one closer to home! Blue Line Pizza is the real deal! Waaaay better than any other pizza joint around! When you can taste the cornmeal in the cornmeal crust, you know it's good! Delicious!

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

I like Blue Line just fine, but find Paxti's better. Blue Line is high quality, and the service is very good, at least the few times we've been there. Having desserts will be a definite lure, compared to Paxti's.

Like this comment
Posted by thank for the info!
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Dec 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm

I will definitely try this place! The Blue Line - Chicago - pizza - all great memories.

Like this comment
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Dec 8, 2013 at 8:20 pm

Pizza .... just makes me moan for Pizza-A-Go-Go that used to make the best pizza I can remember, Veggie, Super-Veggie, and Pepperoni! Does anyone remember that place ... and if so, does anyone know why they had to close down? It seems they did a great business, it was always busy. Was it because the landlord kept raising the rent? I have not really had a good piece of pizza since they shut their doors.

The thin crust picture looks good, but that artery-clogging heart-attack inducing big thick deep slice pizza just makes me want to check that my health insurance premiums are paid up. I thought Palo Alto was so progressive and ahead of the times ... so why do we get so many new businesses selling us unhealthy food?

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