In a word: Bring your taste BFFs (just taste buds aren't enough).
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Brian, JM and Nichole ate a bowl of soup, the puerco pizza, the barberini pizza, and three sodas.
The bill was $43, or $14ish/person, plus tip.
Brian gave Grampa's Pizzeria a B; JM gave Grampa's Pizzeria a B+; Nichole gave Grampa's Pizzeria an A- (see our grading rubric).
This meal was a treat. Not only did we get to eat at a nice place, but we had good company in Brian, another Madison dining enthusiast whose own restaurant lists have helped us with ours for years now. Cheers, Brian!
Grampa's Pizzeria would like you to know that their food has flavor. Not just a flavor, but many different flavors all coming at you from different directions. In this way, you will never be bored. Take the water that you are served, for instance. Should water have a flavor? Well, this water has both fruit and vegetable in it. Now there's some flavor. Surely, a nuanced palate admires such culinary pluck and variety? It can all be a little too much... certainly if you like lots of interesting variation in each bite then Grampa's is the place for you. But if you want a pizza that just tastes like pizza (or at least what you put on it), then there's other places. Fortunately, Grampa's flavors are usually pretty good and those who delight in such things will find much to enjoy.
Nichole got some celeriac soup. It was thick and creamy, and the celery root flavor shore through. The garnish of grana, a hard cheese, and parsley was perfect.
The pies we tried were also good. The Barberini, topped with tomato sauce, ricotta, garlic, (almost too many) calabrian chiles, watercress, and honey, had been picked as a local favorite a couple times. We're glad we tried it, as its classic status is not overstated. The combination of hot, sweet, sharp, bitter and rich lights up your whole mouth (see above).
The puerco was simpler, with just the thick and rich tomato sauce, nice stinky gorgonzola, and fatty pork confit.
On his previous visit, Brian had really enjoyed the peperone (minus olives plus garlic). The pies on this visit were not quite as full of win. Brian also observed the profusion of flavors, and opined that in the pizzas we chose, led to a lack of cohesion.
Grampa's has made a name for itself in a short time, which says something for both its nuanced pizzas and the state of high-end dining in Madison. We recommend you try it if you like flavorful food.