Customer service as memorable as the pizza at Red Bank’s Pizzeria Cortile

Photo by Anne Braly / The Sweet Thai Chicken pizza is topped with peanut sauce, cheese blend, smoked chicken, embered onions, cilantro and green onions.
Photo by Anne Braly / The Sweet Thai Chicken pizza is topped with peanut sauce, cheese blend, smoked chicken, embered onions, cilantro and green onions.

Pizza is a subject of debate. Some people like it thin and crispy like a cracker; others like it New York style so it can be folded and chewy, and still others like it deep-dish, the way they do it in Chicago.

And then there are the toppings, so many options they're really too numerous to mention — everything from pepperoni to pineapple, or even barely naked with just some tomato sauce, basil and cheese, Margherita-style like they do in Italy.

Perhaps that's why Pizzeria Cortile has become so popular. The crust is thick enough to leave you satisfied, but thin enough to be foldable — if you choose to eat it that way. And the crusts, baked to perfection in an 800-degree wood-fired oven, have a crisp enough edge for those who like a little crunch. As for the toppings, they are very interesting. You can go with tradition, but there are also at least a dozen specialty pizzas that are fun and quite different.


THE ORDER

We went with arancini from the Shareables menu, plus a Sweet Thai Chicken pizza and a glass of Chianti.

For starters, the arancini was outstanding. These perfectly fried balls of risotto were a little larger than a golf ball and were served atop a bed of delicious chunky tomato sauce. Don't let your server take the plate away when you've finished the balls. The leftover sauce is great for dipping the pizza crust.

What I found quite remarkable at this pizza place was the communication between servers, the kitchen and management. When our server came and asked how we were liking our pizza, I was honest and said I couldn't eat more than a few bites because it was too sweet. Within a couple of minutes, the manager came to our table and asked what she could do to make it right. She would either not charge us for the pizza or make us any other pizza we wanted and serve it tableside or boxed to go. We decided on another pie, ordering a delicious Sausage & Peppers pizza with house-made Italian sausage, roasted peppers and onions. We ate some and boxed up the rest to take home.

All pizzas are 12-inch pies served on rustic artisan crusts, hand-tossed and topped with some pretty ingenious toppings, such as the Mr. Potato Head pizza with fried potatoes, house-made bacon, hot honey, rosemary and onions with a red sauce. The Hot Chick pizza, on the other hand, comes with Alabama white sauce, roasted chicken, wing sauce, blue cheese and onions. Or you can go with tradition and get a pepperoni pizza. No one will fault you.


THE SPACE

Though the restaurant is small, it accommodates a good number of diners at tables spread across the dining area. The kitchen is off to one side and open to the dining room. There's also a covered outdoor dining area that has a number of tables, making a good choice for dining. If it's hot, the roof shades you from the sun, and, in inclement weather, keeps you dry. The outdoor space is a nod to the name. In Italy, a cortile (pronounced kor-TEE-lay) is a courtyard enclosed by the walls of a building.

The building itself is an older one along Dayton Boulevard that's been given a face-lift with a weathered facade and strings of lights across the roofline. It's a very casual atmosphere — the kind that allows you to sit back, enjoy a cold brew and dig into a good pizza pie.


THE SERVICE

As mentioned, service couldn't have been better. It's the kind of service you want to tell your friends about. Communication is key in any business, and in this case, it was primo.

Our server was quick enough to take our orders, bring our drinks and give us his recommendation of his favorite pizzas. Had I listened to him in the first place, I never would have ordered the Thai pizza to begin with. It was one of those coulda, woulda, shoulda times, but all was OK in the end. And I'm kind of glad it happened as it showed the level of commitment the staff has to make things right and have its customers leave happy.


THE VERDICT

With pizza joints in most every neighborhood, it's important that each one offer a good product and good service in order to set itself apart. Pizzeria Cortile does this with aplomb.

Contact Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com or annebraly.com.

Upcoming Events