Menu Please: New York Style Pizza (& More) at Redding’s Fasolini’s

Femme de Joie came late to the less-is-more approach to pizza. For years she enjoyed goopy pile-it-all-on combinations with pounds of cheese, layers of salty meats, a token mushroom to make it healthy, and thick bready crust. Heart attack on a pizza pan. Gradually her tastes changes and she now seeks out minimalist pizza – perfectly made thin crust with a smear of sauce, flecks of oregano, scatterlings of cheese, perhaps one or two other tidbits accenting but not obscuring the purity and simple goodness. That kind of pizza is pretty darn hard to find in Redding. But it turns out that Fasolini’s makes New York style pizza – the kind you can fold in half and walk with.

Llocated at the east end of that odd little breezeway between downtown Shasta College and Pine Street, Fasolini is facing an alley. Splashy with bright red paint, sharp black and white tiles, and racing car motifs, it’s clean, bright, and pleasant inside with tables and booths. Order and pay at the window; they’ll bring your food to you.

Fasolini’s has one of those serve-yourself all-you-can-eat lunch deals: pizza, salad, soft drink for $6.95, and it seems like a pretty good deal. The salad bar is fairly extensive for a pizza place, with not any too fresh iceberg lettuce and assorted toppings – beets, baby corn, peas, etc. with fresh chopped tomatoes, broccoli, cucumber, egg, and the standard dressings. On the day M. de Joie visited, there were 4 slices of sausage and pepperoni pizza left on the warmer. After taking one slice, she watched other patrons take the rest. By her watch it was 15 minutes before more pizza appeared – quite a wait considering there were numerous lunch deal customers staring at the warmer like coyotes circling a tethered sheep.

Fasolini's Sausage & Pepperoni Pizza

The sausage and pepperoni pizza had good flavor but was excessively salty. Bit floppy, too. There was a doughy taste to the crust, which explains the cooper’s droop. It needed to be baked longer.

Fasolini's Cheese Pizza

Cheese pizza was the second to appear. It was much less salty, with sauce tasting of actual tomatoes and a pleasant herby oregano seasoning.

Fasolini's Hot Pastrami Sandwich

Fasolini’s serves sandwiches and pasta in addition to pizza, and the hot pastrami was surprisingly good, a smear of mustard on a crusty roll with hot juicy pastrami atop. Normally sandwiches come with a side of pasta salad, but this day they were out so it came with the salad bar.

Fasolini's Ziti Chicken Alfredo

Ziti with alfredo sauce and chicken was a special pasta of the day for $7.69, drink and salad bar included. Actually it should have been spaghetti with alfredo sauce, but Fasolini’s was out of spaghetti. The ziti was cooked perfectly and the diced chicken atop was excellent with a toasty browned crust and juicy interior. Unfortunately the alfredo sauce reminded M. de Joie of a deadful morning after back in the intemperate 1980s when she and a friend, nursing savage hangovers, made pasta for breakfast and poured much too much salt in it, rendering it virtually inedible.There was no other taste in this alfredo sauce but salt though there were visible flecks of red pepper and a sprinkling of grated cheese. M. de Joie gave up after half a portion.

Though there are noticable flaws in the cooking, Fasolini’s is on the right track. While not authentically New York, their pizza is good though it needs more baking time to firm up the crust. The pasta and chicken was cooked beautifully, as was the sandwich. But food is being sent out without anyone checking seasonings, and you could spend much of your lunch hour waiting for pizza to appear on the lunch special. A little more care in the kitchen could work wonders here.

Fasolini’s Pizza and Espresso, 1419 Market Street, Redding, CA 96001, (530) 243-8892. Open 7:00 am – 6:30 pm, Monday-Friday; also open Saturdays (but call first to check). Cards, no checks. Mall parking. Vegetarian and vegan options.

Femme de Joie’s first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Femme de Joie
Femme de Joie's first culinary masterpiece was at age 4, when she made the perfect fried bologna sandwich on white bread. Since then she has dined on horse Bourguignon in France, stir-fried eel in London, and mystery meat in her college cafeteria, but firmly draws the line at eating rattlesnake, peppermint and Hamburger Helper. She lives in Shasta County at her country estate, Butterscotch Acres West. She is nearly always hungry. Visit MenuPlease for more or send her an email at femmedejoiefood@yahoo.com.
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12 Responses

  1. Scatterlings! Tethered! Breezeway! Such great words. Love your style.

    • Femme de Joie Femme de Joie says:

      Dear Valerie,

      "Scatterlings" was lifted freely from "You Can Call Me Al."

      "Tethered" is… just tethered.

      "Breezeway" was first glimpsed by moi in an old H. Allen Smith book, where he compared "northern" words with "southern" words. Breezeway was northern, dog-trot was southern; hello was northern, hey-how-yew was southern. And so on.

      Cordially,

      Femme de Joie

  2. Avatar Paul Frye says:

    This town needs some good, East Coast pizza. I grew up in Jersey, 45 miles south of "The City", and our pizza was soooo different from Redding's offerings. I can order a ham and swiss and provolone sandwich with oil and vinegar on a french roll, NO MUSTARD, NO MAYO, and feel like I'm much nearer the East Coast than when I order pizza. I think that, along with the crust, it's the cheese. A nice, strong goat cheese is missing here, not covered instead, with, by God, PINEAPPLE. Freakin' PINEAPPLE. Some sausage, maybe anchovies, bell pepper, not too much pepperoni, but no tropical fruit, Thank You Very Much. Fasolini's has a good name, I'm looking forward to trying it out, prolly not at lunch. Nice review, btw. GRAU, as we used to say; good review as usual.

  3. Fasolini's is our family's favorite pizza. Once we tried it, there was no going back!

    • Oops…I meant no going back to OTHER pizza parlors! I should edit my own writing, i guess. I have never been there for lunch, only gotten carry-out, but the deluxe pizza is my fave, and I like the chewiness of the crust. We never had a "floppy" issue, just foldable. And I love the seasoning!

  4. Avatar Adrienne Jacoby says:

    Your description of the pizza gave me a chuckle and recalled the first time I ordered pizza in Naples. My first thought was, "These guys don't know how to make pizza!" That was BEFORE the eating. The thin crust and sparse toppings allowed each to be tasted and savored. The best one I have ever, EVER had was from a "roach-coach" truck, with a real, wood fired oven, at a marcato (flea market) just north of Naples. Yup . . . I'll be checking out Fasolini's.

  5. Avatar kittynapper says:

    GRAU for certain! And… that sandwich photo got us ravenous like cats circling a bowl of tuna..

  6. Avatar KarenC says:

    Actually the word, "breezeway", I believe, comes from old Sunset Magazine ranch style homes. My aunt and uncle had a beautiful home in Eureka, in the middle of a redwood forest. It had a breezeway conneted to the BBQ which was a separate room to grill, and entertain in. It was fabulous, and I wish more homes were built with such an arrangement.

    I, too, am wanting more simple pizzas with a thin crust, a smattering of a fresh, homemade sauce, fresh garlic, garden tomatoes, parmesano-reggiano, and maybe some marinated artichokes. Simple and so divine. Ultimate Pizza on the west side has such a pizza…..try it!

  7. Avatar pmarshall says:

    I also like the thin crust and a little less cheese with sparse toppings like mushrooms, spinach, garlic; oh, I guess I get that frm Schwan's. Anmywhere else?

  8. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Karen, you got that right about Ultimate Pizza on Pleasant at the top of Placer in the Zippy's Chevron Shoping Center. Those folks know how to make a good pizza.

    That was a good review Femme de Joie. You're making me hungry!

  9. Avatar Derral Campbell says:

    Right on Mr. Frye! Pineapple on pizza? So wrong on so many levels.

    My Uncle Charlie (from Milano) bought me my first slice of pizza on Coney Island in 1955. Maybe it's because you always remember your First Time, but to this day nothing other than New York style pizza can satisfy.

  10. Avatar Lea says:

    Ultimate Pizza! Yay!