Pazzo may mean crazy in Italian, but other than its odd cubist logo, there’s not much too crazy about Pazzo, except that the food is crazy good! It has become a South Laurel favorite over the last few years, perhaps only helped by its appearance on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-In and Dives (like many of the restaurants on that show, Pazzo is none of those three – but it was good publicity nonetheless). It’s a mid-sized place, with about a dozen tables or so fronting an open kitchen with a large wood-fired oven. It has a fairly minimalist and rustic decor, with wood tables and a handful of photos and framed posters on the wall. When full, the restaurant can definitely get a little noisy. Pazzo is only open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Especially on weekends, you’ll find a pretty full restaurant, so reservations are definitely recommended.
They particularly promote their New Haven style pizza, which is a form of thin crust Neapolitan pizza but slightly chewier with a different selection of toppings (they even use the term “apizza” on their menu, which is the New Haven way of referring to New Haven style pizza). You’ll see a pizza placed on a raised serving stand at almost every table in the place. Given the good selection of appetizers, pastas, and salads, you’ll often see a group order a number of dishes and a single pizza to share, but I’m sure folks may come in for the pizza alone. We are particularly partial to the Eggplant and Peppers Pizza, which has this incredible smoky flavor that just pops. Their pizza selections is pretty varied and includes the classic Margherita as well as pepperoni, sausage, baby clam, white pizza, prawns, spinach and bacon, and a few others.
Despite the focus on the pizza, don’t overlook an amazing set of appetizers and pastas. Guy Fieri highlighted Pazzo’s Ricotta Gnocchi, which includes lemon and artichokes. It is a deceiving dish because it looks fairly heavy, but the gnocchi is super light and pillowy, and the sauce is surprisingly subtle. Other more hearty pastas include the rigatoni with fennel sausage and the cavatelli with pork ragu. Among the appetizers, the meatballs al forno is a real-stand out, and the blue lake beans and crispy cauliflower are very popular and easy to share. It’s not a huge menu, but everything we have tried has been very tasty.
There is also a small (for San Carlos) selection of wines and beers, and the wait staff will read you the dessert menu, which will likely include items such as lava cake, cannoli, gelato, tiramisu, and a ricotta cheesecake. The desserts live up the high bar set by the savory food, but it’s hard to save room after that pizza!