I’ve eaten a lot of pizza in my life, especially in the past two years. I’ve taken it upon myself, recently, to try pizza everywhere I go and to try to understand what makes good pizza good. I’ve tried pizzas from across the country, and I’ve had pizza that made some of the finest dinners I’ve ever had look mediocre in comparison. Recently, I had a pizza I would consider amazing for the first time in Kentucky.
Garlic Heads’ pizza comes in a nondescript, brown cardboard box with no logo or markings—normally indicating that its contents were nothing special. However, first impressions can be deceiving.
I knew Garlic Heads did something right the moment I opened the box. As a fan of New York-style pizzas, I find the first indicator of exceptional pizza to be when the cheese runs together causing the cut lines to nearly disappear.
Typically, cheese running together is a sign of quality. Fresh mozzarella doesn’t hold its shape after being melted and cut—it flows and runs together. The first bite rewards the taste buds with this cheese—oily, greasy and packed with flavor—the way mozzarella is meant to be. The way pizza is meant to be.
The most critical mistake one can make when crafting a pizza is to use low-moisture cheese.
Pizza is, in its essence, three ingredients (cheese, bread and sauce) and it is vital that these three ingredients have quality. Good cheese is extremely flavorful, and using a low quality cheese that lacks flavor and moisture inhibits the most important element of a pizza.
The only other place to deliver cheese like this in Richmond is Mad Mushroom, and that doesn’t even compare to how good Garlic Heads’ cheese is. It is on a whole other level.
It cannot be emphasized enough how important quality cheese is, but sauce and bread also contribute to the overall quality of a pizza, and this is where Garlic Heads begins to falter.
The bread of Garlic Heads’ pizza is largely inoffensive, though it doesn’t stand out. Notably, the crust isn’t as dry as that of chain pizzas and local pizza places (Apollo’s being one of the greatest crust offenders), and while it isn’t exceptional, it is largely neutral in a way that I find adequate.
The sauce was Garlic Heads’ worst of the three primary pizza elements.
The tomato sauce seemed to simultaneously be too acidic and lacking in acidity. It had a bite, but not in a good way. It lacked the flavor of tomatoes — the primary element of a pizza sauce. The flavor wasn’t bad, it just tasted like something was missing. I want a tomato sauce to burst with flavor, and this sauce didn’t. It was, by all means, okay.
However, the disappointing sauce doesn’t make this a bad pizza. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. While the sauce wasn’t exceptionally good, it wasn’t bad, and that’s more than I can say for many pizzas. The sauce was good enough that it didn’t distract from the rich flavors of the cheese, and that’s a big deal.
Garlic Heads was certainly not the best pizza I’ve ever had, but I didn’t expect it to be. What Garlic Heads was, though, is the best pizza I’ve ever had in the state of Kentucky.
With fresh cheese, delicious and reminiscent of the best pizzas I’ve had the pleasure of tasting, and crust that wasn’t bad at all, within a few bites I knew that Garlic Heads was the best pizza in Richmond, and I can’t imagine myself getting pizza anywhere else any time soon.