Tuesday, September 14, 1999

Pizza zoo

Posted on Tue, Sep 14, 1999 at 4:00 AM

If you're headed to Alfonso's Pizza & More in College Park on a Saturday night, make sure that you are (1) wearing comfy shoes, and (2) not in a hurry. Reservations? Forget it. Everyone waits in line at Alfonso's. Now that the word is out, the College Park pizzeria practically has to call in crowd control on some nights.

As we served our 20-minutes of waiting time, we tried not to stare at the customers who were snug in their seats, noshing on big, fat, fabulous Italian pizzas, subs, wings, garlic rolls and pasta.

Once we were seated amidst the zoo of activity, our waitress managed to zip back and forth between the tables – aisles clogged with purses, jackets and chairs, no less – juggling tray after tray of pizza. Not once did she miss or drop anything.

Alfonso's menu offers hot wings, ranging from teriyaki to garlic to the deadly "light 'em ups," starting at $4.99. Jalapeño poppers are in a completely different league from the throwaway versions served all over town. The ones we sampled held their structure even when you bit them right down the middle. The peppers caused a slow burn that contrasted with the rich ricotta stuffing (six for $3.99).

A heavy-handed dusting of spices on top of the garlic rolls made them look better than they tasted ($1.25 for half dozen). On the other hand, half of a "hot Sicilian" sub ($3.75) was a hit at our table. The sandwich was enticingly stuffed with garlic, onions, pepperoni and salami.

We loved the small Sicilian cheese pizza ($6.95) – what a crust. Alfonso's makes their dough fresh daily and it shows. This pie was sky high, sizzled crisp in a real brick oven; inside, it was light and feathery enough to tempt the gods. Also delicious was the house specialty pie, a thin-crust topped with a choice of five stuffings ($14.25) – options range from bacon to banana peppers and beyond.

Alfonso's is a must-visit, if you can deal with the waiting (and waiting) and wildness. There is entertainment, of sorts, to help pass the time. Just keep your eye on the pizza makers behind the counter as they hand-toss wheels of dough with free abandon.

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