If you want true Italian pizza in the small city of Aiken, South Carolina, have a meal at Apizza di Napoli, a one-of-a-kind restaurant that has been formally approved by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, the group that decides if a pizzeria’s pies are authentic. If you want a Hawaiian pizza with ham and pineapple, a baked potato pizza, a BBQ pizza, or a jerk chicken pizza, find a seat at Aiken’s Pizza Joint, one of a four-restaurant pizza chain between Columbia and Augusta, Georgia. I am quite sure that the VPN would not approve of what comes from the Pizza Joint’s ovens; and I suspect that customers who come to the Pizza Joint for a “Carnivore” specialty pie heaped with beef, ham, pepperoni, and sausage would find most elegant VPN-approved pizzas rather, shall we say, bloodless.
I admit it: There are times when I crave one of these outlandish, balls-to-the-wall, oh-so-American pizzas with its puffy crust and iconoclastic ingredients; and when I do, the Pizza Joint fills the bill admirably. Each pie is crafted to order. The last time I ordered a cheeseburger pizza, it was delivered from the brick oven to my table after a good 30 minute wait, the waitress proudly announcing that the chef had made it a bacon cheeseburger pie. (That was swell, however to my taste, chef went overboard with the mustard and pickles, and was not quite generous enough with tomatoes and lettuce.) Extra-thick, crisp-crusted Detroit-style pizzas take up to a half-hour, too, but they really are Motor-City good.
In addition to pizzas, the menu offers calzones, flatbreads, sandwiches, a few salads and a couple of predictable pasta dishes. There’s a full bar and copious beer choices; ambience is that of a friendly neighborhood tavern.