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Review of Peel Pizzeria in Edwardsville

by Jesse Gernigin

I love pizza places. And not just artisan pizzas, I love all pizzas. I am an equal opportunity pizza eater. What do you have? Provel? I’m in. Deep dish? Great! You serve the pizza out of a cardboard box smattered with grease? Slide it my way! I am in no way a pizza snob. But don’t let that fool you, I know good pizza.

A good pizza place, at its heart, is a place that serves good food comfortably. The ovens heat lends even the most generic of venues ambient warmth and comfort. Prime examples of this are Shakespeare’s at Mizzou and the Mellow Mushroom in Lexington. They are both places that, when entered, you instantly are comfortable.

This was not the case at Peel. Entering Peel on a busy night (and they’ve all been busy thus far it seems) is a cramped affair. The entrance lies off to one side of the room were the majority of the waiting area space is consumed by the bar. Although Peel isn’t a heavy drinking venue, I have to imagine parents won’t enjoy their children sharing the same space as the bar. The turnover of tables is odd and twice when I went tables sat empty while we were told fifty minute waits were required.

However this is easy to overlook because Peel is a newly opened restaurant and not competing on the same level as St. Louis luminaries such as Niche or hometown heroes Erato and Fond. What I’m really here for is the pizza, and pizzas they have.

Peel offers a good number of pizzas (although no gluten free alternatives)  that range a little in cost, but none are overly expensive. I had three different pizzas and two different salads on my visits. The pizzas were okay. What was mostly disappointing was the prosciutto and fingerling potato pizza. The first couple of slices were mediocre but for some reason one slice was a grand slam of flavor and after that I couldn’t eat the pizza because I knew what it was intended to taste like and therefore knew the level of disappointment to expect.

“Intention” it is the best way to describe Peel. If we are going to be honest, Peel is a less zazzy version of California Pizza Kitchen. The pizzas they serve seem to suffer from internal confusion. The confusion is not psychological though, it must surely be the oven. When cooking pizzas at an incredibly hot temperature, as Peel claims to do (and they do), you have little time to make (or correct) mistakes in. My first two trips to Peel the hostess excitedly informed me that it only takes the chefs ninety seconds to cook a pizza. By my third visit this had stopped (note: this may have just been the hostess, but I imagine it must be hard to justify a fifty minute wait, packed restaurant or not, if you are serving pizzas at ninety second intervals).

That said the food was less than extraordinary, in truth it was barely passable as average. The pizzas came out either burnt on the bottom and chewy in the middle (not in a good way) or just overcooked to hell. The salads were just greens on a plate and the appetizers weren’t worth the time it took to eat them. The wings were average, the wood fired goat cheese had a flat flavor and the tapenade was more sour than good. The sandwiches were either saturated with too many competing flavors (the chicken mozzarella) or were dull (the Italian job). I hadn’t tried the pastas nor had a chance to ask anybody about their experience with them so I can’t comment. As for the desserts I’ll say this, don’t. Putting nutella on graham crackers, adding honey, and cooking it in a wood fire oven in no way justifies charging eight bucks for a smore.

As for the service it was good, if not overly gracious at times. The first two visits I had servers who have served before. The third time I carried out (busy holiday season, read my blog). The beer selection was pretty good with a dozen crafts on tap (thumbs up) and a few ho hum wine selections (although no liquor).

In total I give the experience two stars out of four. I give it two stars because the idea they have works (as seen in the California Pizza Kitchen) and they have room to grow, but the 222 bakery has been serving pizzas on Friday for some time now and they are about the same price and far better than Peel’s. I’ll have to review the place again in six months (a lot can happen in that time) but for now my review stands. Eat there if you are interested, you might get lucky, but be warned.

Agree? Disagree? Write us a comment below!

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  1. Editor says:

    JW,

    Thanks for the feedback. We definitely encourage contrasting opinions here.

    Paul Peters

  2. JW says:

    Went to Peel last week on a Sunday afternoon and had a great experience. We ordered 2 pepperoni's and 1 Jerk Chicken and everything was EXCELLENT. Service was up to par and pizza's were great. Love the decor and think it will be in Eville for a long time. Everyone likes to rate a restaurant in the first weeks it opens, and unless it's a chain, the reviews are usually poor. Rome wasn't built in a day and most upstart restaurants take about a month to get all the kinks worked out. Good luck to Peel.

  3. B Davis says:

    Was there on Saturday night. Most of us waited over an hour for a table and, you're right – we noticed that a lot of tables were empty. Other than the unnecessary wait, the service was great. Our waitress was trying to push us out, just a bit, at the end of our meal. Beer selection was nice (love that they carry New Belgium's Abby Ale) but the pizza was okay. Not mind-blowing, not Imo's, just okay. To be honest, I can basically make the same thing at home, it just won't be burnt on the bottom. I've had wonderful wood-fired pizza in Salt Lake City, Utah so I know such a thing is possible. I know that Peel will stay as along as the owners choose – there are few things more Edwardsvillians like more than eating out, but I agree that this joint has a little bit of work to do. Peel, I'll check back with you in a few months.

  4. Rebekah says:

    Thanks for the review…I have heard much the same from friends who have braved the long wait. Give them time…the kinks may work out. I will try them in a month or so. For now…I am happy to wait for my Friday Pizza's from 222. It's Pizza perfection and hurray for us…..tomorrow is FRIDAY!

  5. palong says:

    I couldn't disagree more! I thought the food was excellent, and I'm a any kind of Pizza guy myself. The wait was the only downside, but the bartenders were great! Very knowledgeable of the different beers and very friendly and made the wait bearable.

  6. bch says:

    First of all you should stop stealing the ideas from Mr. Peter Reinhart. Who is a world renowned pastry chef and a pizza expert. And second, good luck trying one of 222′s delicious pizza’s since they are not. Even open any more. And how would you compare peel to California pizza kitchen when they use a gas oven (not neopolitan) and its artisan at best. And for all of those who say they can make the same thing at home, I’m not sure where your going to find the fresh and home made ingredients they use. So stick to your frozen pizza’s from home, or enjoy your frozen and processed imo’s pizza. And actually try real pizza before you judge.

  7. Pete Zuh says:

    I think the reviews here might have some one-sidedness or other intentions involved.

    From an honest perspective, Peel Wood Fired Pizza is a great establishment. Sometimes we’ve waited, others’ not so much depending on the time of day, 2-5 is a great time because it’s slower time of day for most restaurants, and you get good service in the most relaxed environment Peel can offer.

    That being said, when it’s PRIME TIME, look out, it’s a little hectic, but it’s a whole new environment that still isn’t half bad!

    The food is amazing! Other reviews point out ” mixed greens thrown on a plate.” Well, I like to see a bed of mixed greens sitting next to a bed of fresh mozzarella cheese and roma tomatoes covered in basil pesto and balsamic vinaigrette!!! And I like the crunch, yet chewiness of Peel’s Pizza crust!

    The parmesan cream sauce is the most amazing condiment/pizza sauce ever!!!

    Also, The Macaroni & Cheese is some of the best I’ve ever eaten!

  8. Editor says:

    “Pete,”

    You’re welcome to disagree with our reviews, and we fully encourage people to post their own opinions, whatever they may be. I will say, however, that our restaurant reviewer is completely independent. His reviews are only informed by his own personal taste, and not influenced by any other “intentions.”

    Paul Peters
    Editor
    EdwardsvilleScene.com
    StLouisScene.net

  9. Deb says:

    Had dinner at Peel for the first time finally, and it was FABULOUS!! Didn’t wait long, it was a Wednesday night, but we beat the crowd, they were coming in behind us, but it is Edwardsville, and we expect a wait anywhere we go anymore, we just had a drink at their great bar while we waited! Loved the Pizza’s, so fresh!!! And the atmosphere was wonderful, with great service as well! We will definitely be back again!!

  10. Kimberly says:

    Just a note to “bch” … 222 Bakery is in fact open. They closed for a week for a remodel, but are back up and running.

  11. shwn says:

    I just ate there a week or so ago and they have the most amazing Caribbean mango wings. Those wings paired with a nice craft beer selection are enough to keep me coming back.

  12. dilek newlon says:

    Pizza is average,dessert is overpriced and not tasty but the mushroom soup was very good. will go back to try their macaroni and salads. definitely pass on dessert. not worth the price. i had their pumpkin special and I can honestly say that it was the worst tasting pumpkin creme bruhlee i’ve ever tasted. i don’t know how they can justify charging $9 for something that tasted so blah.

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