Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI)

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2012/06/06 23:16:02 (permalink)

Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI)

Last weekend I finally got the chances to try 2 pizza places that I'd been interested in: Ron's Pizza Villa in Fort Atkinson, and Holi Cannoli just north of Elkhorn in the Lauderdale area.
Pizza Villa is located in a storefront on the edge of downtown.

It's not very big, with 5 booths and a couple of tables in the center of the room.

The story is that a WWII veteran learned pizzamaking in New York and brought the knowledge to Wisconsin in the 1950s and passed it along.  I found the pizza to be pretty good, with the crust being firm but not crisp except at the edges, the sauce flavorful but not too sweet, and the cheese lightly browned.  Of the meats I preferred the locally-sourced pepperoni, which wasn't too greasy, too spicy, or too bland, but the sausage was good, too.

Pizza Villa opened in 1966 and was at one time part of a 3-store chain, but the other locations closed 20 years ago.
I've been aware of Holi Cannoli for a couple of years now but as it's 40 miles from my house I just hadn't gotten over there.  Naturally, when we went there Sunday night a detour added another 22 miles to our trip because I didn't think to bring along a map.
The restaurant is in what was once a house, but I don't know if the building still does double duty or not.

There are no windows in the dining room and the lights were pretty low so I wasn't able to get an interior shot, but it has that traditional "restaurant feel".  People talking quietly at their tables, Frank Sinatra in the get the idea.
The soup of the day was pasta e fagioli and I was surprised when Kathy suggested we order some, since she doesn't like bean soups.  However, when the cups were delivered to the table she told me that she'd forgotten about the beans and wouldn't have ordered it otherwise.
Ah, but sometimes things work out!  The soup was excellent and we both finished our servings, and had we not had a pizza on the way I could've easily ordered a loaf of bread and more soup for dinner as the pasta and beans were tender without being mushy and the broth was thick and well-seasoned.

But the real treat was the pizza, as I can honestly say that it was the best I've had in a long time.  The crust is extremely thin (3 or fewer toppings are suggested) and the high heat cooks it cracker-crisp, the sauce has a nice tomato flavor, and the less-is-more approach with the cheese means it browns nicely without turning into a goo-fest.  Don't get me wrong, I love a cheesy pizza but this one was fantastic because it wasn't cheesy; if I had to guess I'd say it was half the weight of a typical 16-inch pizza, and unlike usual we had no leftovers.  A perfect example of quality over quantity.

Of course, the edges were nicely charred.

This time I preferred the sausage to the pepperoni although I was surprised I noticed its fennelly-sausagey flavor, given that I was shoveling it in as fast as I could.  Did I mention that I really liked the pizza?  In fact, I liked it so much that I'm beginning to doubt my own judgment, so somebody else needs to check it out and tell me if I've lost my pizza marbles.  Tell me when and I'll try to be there.
Oh, and we did order a couple of excellent made-to-order cannoli (cannolis?) to go but the trip home wasn't exactly kind to their appearance, so no photo.
1 weekend and 2 good but very different pizzas.  Works for me!

5 Replies Related Threads

    Fire Safety Admin
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    Re:Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI) 2012/06/06 23:38:05 (permalink)
    Thanks again for another nice report.  That pizza (and soup) from Holy Cannoli really does look good.  Are pizzas usually cut up in such small squares in your area?
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    Re:Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI) 2012/06/06 23:44:37 (permalink)
    Good question bb, I had never really thought about it.  The square cut is very popular in Wisconsin, it might have been the tradition long ago.  The pizza my Dad bought as I grew up was cut in squares.  With chains and outside influences we see a lot of wedge cuts now.
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    Re:Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI) 2012/06/07 03:21:14 (permalink)
    That criss-cross style of slicing up a pizza is fairly common in Chicago and Milwaukee.  It's called a "party cut".  I guess there are multiple reasons for cutting it that way as opposed to wedges.  First, you get smaller pieces and more of them.  This allows you to walk around the party and mingle with a piece of pizza, coupled with a napkin in one hand, and a drink in the other.  It also means the pizza has the potential to go further with more pieces.  Yes, I know they're smaller pieces so you'll eat just as much in the long run, but I don't think that logic occurred to the guy who invented the "party cut".
    The other reason for cutting the pie in this fashion was so more people would get a crust piece.  The drawback to that method is that there are also more center pieces which tend to get soggy and have too much cheese.  On the up side, there are usually enough cheese freaks in the crowd to balance things out.  Still, at the end of the night, when you're cleaning up after the party, there are always a few center pieces left in the delivery box and never a single piece from the crusty edges.
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    Re:Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI) 2012/06/07 10:45:51 (permalink)
    Our favorite local place also does the squares and I remember a lot of square-cut pizza in the Rockford area when I was growing up, so the style definitely reached out to the west.  The first wedge-cut pizza I clearly remember was Domino's, when I was in college in Iowa in the early 1980s.
    As far as the crustless center pieces go, those are my favorite for reheating in a toaster oven.  The crust on edge pieces can get tough when reheated but no crust = no problem.

    Speaking of pizza-cutting, at Holi Cannoli it appears the pizzas are built and cooked by a white-haired gentleman at a station at the rear of the dining room.  Instead of a wheel cutter he was using a rather intimidating knife to finish the job.
    post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2012/06/07 10:49:20
    ann peeples
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    Re:Pizza Villa/Holi Cannoli (WI) 2012/06/07 13:45:34 (permalink)
    Great finds, Brad. i love sausage with a good fennel taste. The only place we used to get that on a pizza was a place in Bay View called Pietros that is now closed. And their sausage maker, Dentice Brothers, on the east side is also closed.
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