The name Amie's Pizza Factory conjures images of a monolithic pizza-making machine, churning out generic pies by the thousands.
Which is nothing like the real-deal Amie's on West Central Avenue at McCord Road in the Regency Plaza strip mall. Amie's is more of a pizza boutique, a moniker that is far too fussy for this blue-collar region but reflective of the restaurant's emphasis on specialty pizzas for a variety of tastes.
The place is considerably no-frills, with just a handful of stiff, uncomfortable booths for dining in, along with a modest beer selection. You order from the extensive menu cafeteria-style, and of course you can carry out your food. Amie's does not deliver, but it has a catering service.
The pizzas come in 8, 12, 14, and 16-inch sizes and Amie's keeps the crust consistent: It's neither too thick nor cardboard-thin. Given that we're not fans of crust that comes across like steroid-infused bread or limp skinny stuff that falls apart when you pick it up, Amie's scores high with its light, firm style.
The price range of the pies is pretty broad, starting as low as $6.15 for the simple 8-inch cheese pizza and going all the way up to $20.50 for the big specialty pizzas.
The restaurant is big on touting the various awards it has won in pizza-tasting contests, going so far as leading its menu with one that is called the 2002 Pizza Challenge Winner ($8.40-$19). With special sauce, spinach, chicken, tomatoes, red onions, and garlic butter, it's a classic version of the white pizza. The lack of a tomato-based sauce is a good thing, and the Challenge Winner is an excellent go-to pizza when you're tired of the traditional Italian styles and want something different.
Amie's BBQ chicken pizza ($8.40-$19) features barbecue sauce, chicken, blended cheeses, and onions, and it's another winner. The sauce is sweet and spicy without being overwhelming, and the thick cheese blend added to the smoky flavoring of the dish.
The Factory Favorite ($9.65-$20.50) comes heaping with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, beef, ham, and bacon. Obviously, this is for meat lovers, but we didn't think it was overwhelming. Each bite yields a different taste -- for example, you go from bacon to ham to pepperoni -- and for our taste buds the transitions were natural and intriguing.
The Hawaiian ($7.35-$16.50) didn't have nearly as much pizzazz. Part of the problem was that the ham and pineapple pieces were sliced so small that they didn't deliver much taste.
The Veggie comes loaded with mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and black and green olives ($8.40-$19). While it was tasty, make sure you like olives because they were piled high, giving the pie a bit of a salty after-taste.
We also tried the lasagna ($6.50) which fell considerably short compared to the pizza selections. The cheese was burned around one section, and it lacked the rich, creamy texture we expect from lasagna.
Amie's offers a variety of sandwiches, and we tried the Italian sub ($5.50-$10.50) and the steak sub ($5.75-$10.75). Both featured fresh bread, and the restaurant doesn't skimp on the ingredients. Neither was remarkable -- the steak sub was somewhat bland -- but they were filling and certainly were serviceable as sandwiches go, especially for the lunch crowd.
But let's not kid ourselves: Amie's is all about pizza, especially specialty pies. Here are a few examples we didn't try: the Coney Island (hot dogs, onion, beef, chili, and a blend of cheeses), Chicken Club (mayonnaise, chicken, blend of cheeses, bacon, red onions, tomatoes, and lettuce) Baked Potato (ranch dressing, potatoes, broccoli, blend of cheeses, bacon, red onions), and the Reuben (thousand island dressing, corned beef, sauerkraut).
That's not to mention all the toppings -- we counted 27 ranging from almonds, feta cheese, and spicy sausage in addition to eight premium toppings such as cashews and crab -- and sauce varieties.
The bottom line is that Amie's is for people who are adventurous in their pizza choices and who are willing to go beyond the usual pepperoni and mushrooms. The place has the awards to show for its creativity, and you're not going to find that from any of the national chains.
AMIE'S PIZZA FACTORY
* * *
Address: 6710 West Central Ave.
Menu: Pizza, sandwiches, Italian.
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Reservations are not accepted.
Wheelchair access: Yes.
Average price: $.
Credit cards: AE, Dis, MC, V.
Web site: amiespizzafactory.com.
Contact Bill of Fare at firstname.lastname@example.org.