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Luigi's Pizzeria

In a word: Never eat in.

The specs: #0759  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Wisconsin State Journal, Eat Drink Madison, Team Struckmeyer, 77 Square, Isthmus, The Dish, A.V. Club, Yelp; official web site, Facebook, Luigi's on Urbanspoon

Latest Luigi's news and reviews at del.icio.us

Amanda, JM, Karl and Nichole ate the 14" mushroom pizza, the 14" margherita pizza, one order of dough knots (though we ordered two), a coffee, a beer and two fountain drinks.
The bill was about $13/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Luigi's Pizzeria a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Luigi's Pizzeria

We never ate together at the original Luigi's in the revolving door flatiron that's currently Tipsy Cow, so we don't know whether the new place brings back fond memories. Frankly, it gave us all a bit of a migraine. If we're hungry for pizza in the Hilldale/Sequoya Library neighborhood, 99.6% (±3%) of the time we'd rather go to Cafe Porta Alba.

This is why - and we're not proud that this writeup is more Yelp than yay, but we just couldn't find much to love here.

The ordering process is the least functional since Delitalia (give your name to host, wait awkwardly among fellow patrons and pick-up orderers in tiny space to be summoned to order counter, be seated, wait again for food). Plenty of thought went into the decor, however, which features a VIP-style curtained booth with its own disco ball, chandeliers, floor-to-ceiling windows that let SUV headlights shine in your face, and small tables that could be intimate but in such a loud venue feel merely crowded. (Cafe Porta Alba is crowded and loud too, but that's because the pizza is perfect and there's often wonderful live music there.)

PizzaSalad

We didn't try the pastas, but the pizzas are OK if you like lots of cornmeal and heavy, sweet tomato sauce. Amanda and Nichole both got the floppy "fancy salad" with bacon, bleu cheese, and a notional amount of avocado. The salad came in wooden bowls a la Calasan, only these were cracked. The cashier upsold us all on "dough knots" (tasted like they sound) for 12 bits, but only one of two orders came out; after we finished our pizza, the manager came over to say they'd run out of dough knots, and offered us $1.50 off a dessert.

To their credit, when it came down to it, they did refund the cost of a regular appetizer ($4ish). We settled up the rest of the bill and promptly blew the $4+ on monkey tails at the bright but quiet Chocolate Shoppe across the parking lot, along with at least two fellow diner/survivors we recognized from Luigi's.

We followed that up with a trip to the library to take a joy ride through the Pirate, Ninja, and Musical Theatre versions of the SelfCheck machines. If you don't have a library card, 1) why the heck not?! and 2) it's worth it just for this - and we haven't seen it anywhere but Sequoya.

We had a great night out sadly in spite of, if not because of, Luigi's.

Comments

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The Verona Public Library's SelfCheck machines have Pirate and Baby Talk (courtesy of the same fellow who created them for Sequoya).

Yea - I thought this place was pretty mediocre - disappointing since I live in the neighborhood and was happy to see it open. The staff was super nice the night we went in - but the food is B quality and the place just feels cramped. Plus, you're right - the ordering system is byzantine.

I've had one pizza from Luigis and I thoroughly enjoyed the crust and sauce. It is nice to have this place within walking distance, albeit as my only such option.

On the way home from work one night, my wife and I decided to give Luigi's a try. We called ahead and ordered the spinach and artichoke crostini, panzanella salad and chicken parm panini and throughly enjoyed all of it. The crostini stayed amazingly crispy even after the 15 minute drive home. We will definitely be going back.

"one order of dough knots (though we ordered two)"

Oh come on. The manager apologized to you for running out and comped your dessert. Don't make it sound like they forgot out of carelessness.

There is no question that the ordering process at Luigi's needs to be rethought -- I can only imagine that they were going for something like Pizza Brutta's setup, but it just doesn't end up working as well here (and it's hardly awesome at Brutta).

With that said, we've been a number of times and find the food to be consistently someplace between good and very good. In addition to the good pizzas and salads, the pastas I've tried were all pretty good, and having a pasta option is nice (compared, say, to Brutta). They also have a good set of kids menu choices, and a gluten-free crust option (if at a baffling $5 surcharge) for diners who avoid wheat.

I desperately hope the service model is revised soon, but overall I think Luigi's is a welcome addition.

Thanks for the Sequoya shout out :) I agree, I've tried several different dishes and not been wowed. I had a sandwich with a pasta side and it was $10, I could have zipped down to Great Dane and gotten a much better sandwich for way less. The pizza is just so so and not a fan of the cornmeal crust at all. I would haved loved a westside deli instead of a less than average italian place.

I agree with your review--though I did go there for lunch in March and the new table service helps. I was really excited when this place opened because my family has fond memories of the old Luigi's...needless to say this place is nothing like that one. For lunch it seems fine.

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