Paulina’s: Truly the best of the Big Bend

In January of this year, local CBS-affiliate WCTV conducted a poll to determine the best pizza in Tallahassee. According to WCTV’s Web site, “Paulina’s Pizzeria won by a landslide.”

Prior to this poll I had never heard of Paulina’s Pizzeria. Having lived in the New York/New Jersey area prior to coming to FAMU, I consider myself somewhat of a pizza aficionado. I have always preferred authentic, pizzeria-style pizza as opposed to the popular pizza chains of Pizza Hut, Domino’s Pizza, Papa John’s, etc.

To determine if Paulina’s truly lived up to the title of “Best Pizza of the Big Bend,” I decided to give it a try.

The first thing I noticed upon entering Paulina’s Pizzeria was the size of the restaurant; it was small. There were no more than 20 tables, but the setup of the room looked inviting. The restaurant looked very clean and well maintained, with decorative art adorning the walls.

The next thing I noticed was the amazing aroma escaping from the kitchen. The kitchen was a small area enclosed with a large glass pane enabling customers to see the food as it was prepared. All the dough is freshly baked, and the sauces are mixed onsite as well.

I decided to keep my order fairly simple, and I requested a medium pizza with pepperoni, mushrooms and Italian sausage.

While waiting for the food to arrive, the service was definitely above par for a pizzeria. Our waiter was very attentive and asked if my date and I needed a salad or appetizer while waiting. The salad we shared was not included with the pizza. It was just average and did not have enough dressing.

When our pizza arrived, however, it more than made up for the salad. The mixture of parmesan and mozzarella cheeses was noticeable, the sauce was very tasty, and the ingredients were all fresh.

The crust was cooked to perfection, as it wasn’t too soft and it wasn’t burnt either. The crust had a good thickness that was thicker than a thin style crust but not quite as thick as Chicago Deep Dish style pizza.

Toward the end of our meal, the co-owner (the owners are husband and wife Gary and Paulina Sabitsch) greeted every table to ask how everything was, and my immediate reply was, “delicious.”

For about $22.00 my date and I shared a medium pizza with three toppings, two drinks and a salad. The medium pizza was more than enough to fill us both, and my date took home a slice and-and-a-half, which she couldn’t finish.

In Tallahassee, I have eaten at Momo’s, Decent Pizza, Mellow Mushroom, and of course the usual suspects of Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s and Hungry Howies; Paulina’s easily trumps all of these restaurants in quality, taste and a dine-in atmosphere.

The only negative aspect of Paulina’s Pizzeria is the location. It is located on Mahan Drive in the Publix complex next to the Cross Creek Golf Club, about 9 miles from FAMU’s campus.

They also do not deliver. According to Paulina’s Pizzeria Web site: “[Our] goal…is to offer a more polished product and atmosphere than typically found at other pizzerias; we feel delivery would detract from that.”

If you’re looking for cheap pizza to eat while watching rented movies, you’re probably better off sticking with Hungry Howie’s. But if you’re looking to enjoy quality pizza in a fine dining environment with attentive service, Paulina’s Pizzeria is the best of the Big Bend.