FTLToday Quik Bite - Grande Pizza Co., Ft. Lauderdale
We've actually been to Grande Pizza maybe seven or so months ago and when I received a Living Social discount offer, I jumped at the chance. The offer was purchased four months ago and we were looking forward to getting the 'cheesy crust' pizza once again. Grande Pizza has a few locations around South Florida and the once in Broward is located on Cypress Creek and Dixie. It's located in a strip mall that has seen better days. This strip mall got hammered during the recession and there are quite a few empty store fronts. Grande Pizza offers dine-in, take-out or delivery. Grande Pizza is an Italian Restaurant which seems to tout their pizza. You can find items like large salads, pasta dishes and some fried appetizers along with a large variety of pizzas. There is a small 'counter' at the entrance for those that like to eat on the go…and there is a small dining room to the back of the restaurant for those that wish to dine-in.
There is kind of a 'story' that goes with the Living Social discount that I'll share. Living Social is one of those 'Groupon' type of websites. You pay a discounted amount for a 'certificate' worth a higher dollar value. We paid $12 for a certificate worth $27. Why $27 you might ask…not sure. They usually are a 50% discounted value. Back in July, we decided to use the voucher. We called them up and wanted to place our order as 'take-out' since the restaurant is kind of small and not really the best dining atmosphere from what we remembered. We ordered the 'cheesey crust' pizza and an antipasto salad. Those two items would use the voucher in full, and we would only have to throw in another $2 or so. When we got to the restaurant and presented the voucher….they informed us that the voucher was for 'dine-in' only. Upon further inspection of the voucher…they were right. The fine print stated that it was only to be used for 'dine-in'. We apologized and since we were on a time schedule, we asked if they would allow us to use it for the take out order. The manager gave a quick "No." Now I know that we should have read the fine print…but this was a Pizza place that also delivers. I personally didn't understand why they would force you to eat in the dining room to take advantage of this deal. They don't serve beer or wine…so they wouldn't get additional sales from that. The only thing extra you would order is soda. Made no sense. They refused to take the voucher for our order so we left.
Flash forward 2 months. We planned to use the voucher and this time dine-in. We arrived at the restaurant and were told to sit anywhere we wanted. There are around 8 tables in the small dining area and there is a TV and you can kind of get a view of the front door and some of the pizza making station. The space is 'neat', but boring.
(Grande Pizza Dining Room)
We were greeted by the same girl that works the front counter (taking phone orders, gathering take-out orders, ringing up orders, etc.). She was friendly and took our order. We went for 2 sodas and the antipasto salad and the cheesy crust pizza with pepperoni and mushrooms. Soon after we got our soda, she dropped off our 'plates'. They were thick plastic…the kind you might find at Sweet Tomatoes. We sipped on our sodas and continued to wait for our salad. During that time…we got to watch the staff drag all kinds of full garbage from around the restaurant and through the dining room. I'm hoping they were taking them outside to dispose of everything. While I understand they need to clean up…why do it in front of people in the dining room? The trash cans were overfilled and you got to see all kinds of trash piled up and almost falling on the floor. Yum. They also decided it was time to start mopping the dining room floor. Jeff's feet got hit a few times from the mop. Nice.
So far…not the best impression of the 'dine-in' experience here at the Grand Pizza Co. After 20 minutes of wainting…our antipasto salad was finally brought out. Why it took so long…we'll never know. The silverware was dropped off next and it was the cheap thin bendable kind that you used to swipe from the Dining Commons in school. I guess this is a Pizza place…so why expect better quality plates and silver. The salad was actually really good. The lettuce was fresh and wasn't wilted. The cold cuts were packed with flavor. The dressing was served on the side and was really good…although quite thick and gloppy. We both liked the salad..but felt it was a bit overpriced at $8.95.
(Grande Pizza Co - Anitpasto Salad)
After we finished our salad, we got to relax and wait for a while for our pizza. During that time we got to take in the great surroundings in the dining room (sarcastic). From my seat, I could see the corner of the pizza making station. It's located right in front of the restaurant and you can watch them make pizza from the take-out area. Normally this would be entertaining, but not here at Grand Pizza. The guy making the pizzas had a rubber glove on his right hand. Yes…only his right hand. His left wasn't gloved. Hmmm. Weird. He put a pizza skin (crust) on the table and took out some ricotta cheese and plopped it on. He then began to spread it around using the right (gloved) hand and the spatula. So far so good. Well…then I saw some of the ricotta cheese get on his left hand, he liked it off. Yes LIKED IT OFF…like it was KFC Finger Lickin good. He then used the SAME HAND to move some of the peaks of ricotta cheese around and flatten it out. Totally gross and I'm sure it's against heath code. Ick.
The time between finishing our salad and getting our pizza was another 30 minutes. Our pizza finally came out and as you can see from the picture, it was almost too 'well done'. Our last pizza here was no where near this 'brown'.
The 'cheesy crust' pizza is a square pizza with the cheese piled on the crust all the way to the edge of the pan. The sauce is put on top of the cheese and it makes for a unique pie. It's actually very similar to the Detroit Style found at Buddy's Pizza around the Detroit burbs. While it's similar…it's not even close. This is a good version, but the crust is a bit too thick. The pizza was overdone and we were kind of disappointed that we waited so long for something was totally over cooked. We both had a slice and took the rest home.
(Grande Pizza Co - Cheesy Crust Pizza)
Overall, I would say to skip Grande Pizza in Ft. Lauderdale. The whole experience was not worth the time and expense. The fact that they forced us to eat in that nasty dining room is a reason to avoid this place. But then again…I want to thank Grande Pizza for forcing us to eat in their dining room so we could really see what was going on. Trash dragged trough the kitchen and dining area…licking fingers….over cooking pizza all adds up to one bad restaurant that we will not be going to again.
Grande Pizza Co. location:
959 E. Cypress Creek Rd
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
FTLToday Score: F