Clemenza’s Brick Oven Pizza 816 Westfield St, West Springfield

One of pizza’s many charms is its versatility. The classic fusion of sauce, dough and cheese continues to be redefined within various cultural platforms. Some prefer the hearty textures baked inside Chicago deep-dish pies; others treasure the fluffy doughiness emanating from a Detroit-style pizza.

At Clemenza’s Brick Oven Pizza, the talented artisans exhibit an earnest ode to classic Italian Neapolitan pizza. The quaint yet welcoming space lives up to its brick oven namesake. Each perfectly circular pizza exits the oven coated by a rustic char. However, there is an adept textural balance embedded within each slice. Clemenza’s exemplifies the appeal of Neapolitan pizza, as the well-done preparation still captures the signature flop one would expect from this style.

Every bite of Clemenza’s is more satisfying than the last. The aromatic sauce sings with potent flavor and authenticity. The dough is airy while still packing a comforting doughy cushion. All ingredients blend to form a beautiful marriage, an expressive portrait of balance and composition. Many pizzas can often leave fanatics like myself feeling bloated after countless slices. Yet, Clemenza’s expertly calibrated pizza equation maintains a uniquely delicate appeal that keeps me coming back for more.

Clemenza’s Brick Oven Pizza is undoubtedly one of my go-to’s when ordering some pizza on the go. I also recommend patrons check out their robust menu of authentic Italian dishes.

Now on Streaming: “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare”

An ensemble of deranged yet highly skilled outcasts is tasked with acquiring critical intel that will alter World War 2’s trajectory in the spy actioner “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.”

I’ve always admired writer/director Guy Ritchie’s cockney charm. The English director of “Snatch” and “Sherlock Holmes” always steps to his own kinetic beat, drawing up viscerally bold and unabashedly vulgar action romps. Ritchie’s work has become particularly refreshing amidst Hollywood’s ever-changing climate. In a world where most adhere to studio demands or settle for streaming releases, Ritchie proudly waves his auteur flag in support of the theatrical experience.

In line with his recent endeavors (“The Gentlemen” and “Operation Warfare”), “The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” bears no grand ambitions. This straightforward spy ensemble imbues a pulp action/espionage sensibility into its so-called “historical retelling.” The movie certainly does not register a particularly memorable mark, but it effectively serves up a comforting bowl of popcorn movie entertainment for an adult demographic often ignored in mainstream cinema.

Ritchie operates as a confident commander of his material. His direction features his typically vivacious visual pulse, with dynamic framing, uptempo edits and roaring action set pieces enriching the familiar narrative beats (I will be the 10,000th person to label this as a B-version of Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds”). Even as the story gets caught in plodding land mines (the two-hour narrative runs its course during a so-so final act), “Ungentlemanly Warfare” always steers itself back on track to its crowd-pleasing objectives.

It certainly helps that Ritchie enlists an all-star ensemble to pull off this mission. Superman star Henry Cavill is at his movie star best as the team’s leader, Gus-March Phillips. Cavill injects confidence and charisma at every turn, capturing the spotlight as an action hero who is entirely self-aware of his immense abilities.

Respected character actors like Henry Golding, Eliza Gonzalez, and Babs Olusanmoukan are remarkably suave as accomplished spies, while rising star Alan Richardson steals the show as a playful, muscle-bound Swedish man with an insatiable bloodlust for evil Nazis. The cast works together in perfect harmony, forming a symbiotic relationship bursting with dynamism and swagger.

“The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare” registers goodwill in service of executing a mean and lean action throwback. I hope Ritchie continues to receive the support he needs to play in his cooky creative sandbox.

Matt Conway
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