Bazbeaux Pizza has been winning "Best Pizza" awards in local Indianapolis polls for a number of years. I'd never tried a Bazbeaux pizza before and I had a free night when I was in Indianapolis recently, so I tried the location in downtown Carmel (see map).
Bazbeaux Pizza began in 1986 in an old house in the Broad Ripple area of Indianapolis. From day one, Jeff and Deb Berman sought to make the best pizza possible with fresh and plentiful toppings, light and tasty crusts and a wholesome atmosphere for the whole family. By the end of their first year of business, they'd garnered their first "Best Pizza of Indianapolis" mention in Indianapolis Monthly Magazine, the first in a string of over 20 straight.
The Berman's opened their second location on Massachusetts Ave. just northeast of downtown in 1989 (see map). In May of 2003, they moved their original Broad Ripple location a few doors down to it's present day location (see map). The new location offered much more seating and a much larger kitchen to keep up with the demand of their take-out business. In 2006, the Berman's opened the Carmel location in the city's arts district. It features a large dining area, a wine bar and a nice outdoor patio seating area.
It was around 8 p.m. when I got into the Bazbeaux Pizza in Carmel. I was seated at a small table near the bar. Even though it was a Wednesday night and it was getting kind of late, there were still an ample amount of people in the place. There were even a few enjoying the warm early fall evening on the patio watching people walk by on the Monon Trail.
I was given a menu and the waitress came around a few moments later and asked what I wanted to drink. Bazbeaux Pizza had a small, but impressive beer list and a Bell's Pale Ale caught my eye. Given that Bell's makes one of my all-time favorite pale ales, it wasn't difficult to choose.
In addition to pizza, Bazbeaux Pizza features a number of salads and sandwiches to choose from. But pizza is the main item on the menu at Bazbeaux, including a number of eclectic styles of pizzas such as the Virareggio, which is basically a tuna melt on a pizza crust; the Sensa Formaggio which features egg plant, grilled onions, fresh basil, tomato sauce and no cheese; and the Chilope that featured black bean dip, salsa, green pepper, onion, fresh tomato, cilantro, and cheddar cheese. While they all sounded interesting, I opted for my standard Italian sausage, pepperoni and mushroom - a small. I also got a dinner salad with Bazbeaux's homemade green peppercorn salad dressing.
I got my salad and dug in. The dressing was sort of "eh" - nothing special to write home about. It didn't offer much pizazz to the fresh greens, mozzarella and veggies they tossed together to make their dinner salad. It wasn't much of an impressive start for the meal.
About 10 minutes after I finished my salad, my waitress brought out my 10" pizza. Right off the bat, Bazbeaux's got a strike in my book - they use ground sausage like a Quad City style of pizza and not the big chunks that I define as a real pizza. The mushrooms - what there were of them - were very fresh and the pepperoni had a nice taste. The crust was rather difficult to describe. It was crisp on the bottom, but sort of fluffy on the top. And they certainly skimped on the cheese, as well.
After a couple slices, I thought, "This is the best pizza in Indianapolis? Man, I feel sorry for these people." It was as close to a Quad City style of pizza that I've had without being in the Quad Cities. But I will say that it was still better than any Quad City style of pizza that I've had.
I finished four slices and had the waitress box up the remaining two pieces. When I went back to the hotel, I gave the desk clerk the other two pieces. She said, "Oh, this is Bazbeaux's? I love Bazbeaux's!" Poor girl. She just doesn't know what she's missing.
Just like in the Quad Cities, the locals in Indy get hooked on something and think it's the greatest thing in the world. They'll defend it to the death and there is nothing better in their minds. But I have to say that while my experience at Bazbeaux Pizza was pleasant - the service and the ambiance was good - I can't even say that the pizza was all that great. Sure, the toppings were fresh, but there wasn't much of them. The crust was the best of both worlds - crispy and chewy. And the sauce had a nice sweet tang to the taste. But it was far from the best pizza I'd ever had. I couldn't even give it an honorable mention. Honestly, I think Goodfella's was better, but I didn't think much of their pizza, either.
It seems both Indy and the Quad Cities are screaming for an authentic thin-crust pizza like you find in Chicago. Do I see an opportunity brewing?