When a New York native tells us we really, really need to do a full review of Carmine’s Wood Fired Pizza in Joplin, Missouri we listen. Former staffer Danielle Giarratano knows New York flavors, and she said Carmine’s serves the best pizza she’s eaten in the Midwest. Pretty high praise! I was more than happy to dive in for a review, since half my family is made of pizza fanatics (my husband, Eli, and our son, Oliver) and the other half has a capital-P Pasta Problem (me and our daughter, Eloise).
Carmine’s is unique in the sheer variety of pizza styles they offer. You can order Neapolitan pies, massive 16-inch New York–style pizzas and rectangle-shaped Detroit-style pizzas. There was no way we were going to visit without trying all three.
But first, we started with a caprese salad. It was nothing fancy, but it was so fresh and satisfying with simple ingredients that just worked. Maybe I got lucky because I visited at the height of summer—or maybe it’s always this way—but the tomatoes were oh-so-sweet and delicious.
For our Neapolitan pizza, we ordered the Formaggio, topped with rounds of fresh mozzarella, spinach and lemon. The crust was beautiful, chewy on the inside and slightly charred and crisp on the outside with a few airy little bubbles. I loved the simplicity of the toppings; I never in a million years would have thought to put lemon on my pizza, but holy moly it works. Every bite tasted bright and fresh.
Next up was a New York–style pizza, with slices as huge, thin and foldable as you would want a perfect pie to be. We ordered the Joe Pesto toppings: pesto sauce, mozzarella cheese, crumbled Italian sausage and fresh grape tomatoes. This one was a little bit on the greasy side for me, but the flavors were fantastic, and the acidity of those fresh tomatoes really helped too.