Why you gotta do this to me, Semolina? You and I had a special thing going when you were just another item on Basil’s menu. There were only a few pizzas to choose from but that was all we needed. When you told me you were going to move out and get your own place I was optimistic that this could be the right move for us. But you’ve changed. You’re different now. And not in a good way.
Sitting in Semolina’s vacant but charming second-story dining room on the Corner, we thumbed through an impressive menu of pizzas. Lamb with tomatoes and feta and mint, venison-blueberry sausage with roasted yellow peppers and olives, oysters with spinach and portobello. In all, there are 48! pizzas to choose from, each more intriguing than the last.
We were hungry and ordered some “Pepper Poppers” to start. The cherry peppers stuffed with aged provolone and prosciutto came with a perfect balsamic glaze streaking the plate, but the peppers themselves were tough and bitter. Without more of the balsamic, it was difficult to eat more than one of the several peppers.
For the main event, we shared a small (8″) Fig & Prosciutto with Smoky Blue Cheese, and a small Bottarga – egg, garlic, parsley, pecorino, and tomatoes. Both were disappointing. The Bottarga was flavorless except for the parsley, which was not pleasing as the dominant flavor, and it desperately needed more sauce. I had to double-check that it wasn’t listed as a white pizza. The Fig & Prosciutto had the opposite problem. The blue cheese was intense, rivaled on your palate only by the thick-cut prosciutto, which was too gamey for my taste. With half the blue cheese and thinner, bite-size prosciutto, it might have been excellent. I liked the medium-thick crusty crust, but some might prefer a thinner style.
Even if the gourmet offerings had been as excellent as they looked, it’s hard to imagine Semolina succeeding in its current space. The challenging menu and quiet, romantic atmosphere may distance it from the competition at Mellow Mushroom a few doors down, but it’s not far enough. Or maybe it’s too far. Why would a typical Corner-goer go there?
So, I guess this is good-bye for now, Semolina. I hope we meet again one day, preferably after you’ve moved out of that cursed space – R.I.P. Hot Tomatoes and Sylvia’s and all the others that have tried and failed there. Until then, I hope you find someone else who loves you not just for who you were, but for who you’ve become.
Erin says: “With apologies to the Basil family – because you know how much I love your Tel Aviv salad and convenient delivery – I’m going to have to agree with Jed on this one, who is on a mini-streak with mediocre pizza place reviews.”
Rating: Erin: Jed:
Pros: Romantic atmosphere, unique pizzas.
Cons: Mediocre food.
Price: Pizzas $11-15.
Parking: The usual Corner garages and limited street parking.