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The pepperoni pizza from Campus Pizza.
Reminder Publishing photo by Trent Levakis.

During the marathon that can sometimes become of a college experience, the perfect slice of pizza can be as good of a friend to you as anyone else you meet during that time.

There was nothing better than ordering a slice or full pie to share with roommates following a long night of studying or going out. The taste of pepperoni pizza being shoved in my mouth in the early morning hours after would give me what I can only assume are feelings of nirvana as a great slice can easily become your most trusted ally and support when college life has taken the energy out of you.

While my brain has fully developed since then and I now know better than to cram too much pizza in my stomach after a certain hour, a fully developed brain still loves and appreciates the joy of pizza.

These thoughts are what led me to try Campus Pizza, a new joint located at 150 Fearing St., right off of University Drive inside the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. Walking in I immediately became envious there was not a pizza spot within walking distance to my college campus as it would have saved many extra dollars in delivery fees over the years.

It was quickly evident that the inside fit the bill of what the shop is going for: a reasonably priced pizza place with easy access for the student population next door. A few students mingled at one of the tables while others awaited to-go orders ready to hike back to their dorms with fresh pies. The shop is open until 2 a.m. to cater to its student customers on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

When approaching to order, there were a variety of slices available to purchase that featured general cheese and pepperoni pies, but also included various specialty slices. I went with a straightforward pepperoni pizza as is often my move with a new pizza spot in order to get an idea of the kitchen’s foundation when it comes to pizza. With the many specialty slices also there, I made a mental note that I must return in the future to try their buffalo chicken bacon ranch slice. But this trip was about good old-fashioned pizza.

The small pepperoni came out without much wait and looked to be cooked perfectly to my standards. Just a little well done, the first piece I grabbed had the perfect cheese pull from the pie and a layer of pizza grease added that reflected ever-so-slightly on the lights above, giving me a fair warning I was about to bite into pizza gold.

Without the proper mix of ingredients, many pies can become floppy, too greasy or lack enough of a blend between cheese and sauce. I am happy to report Campus Pizza solves all three areas of concern.

The flavorful punch of sauce and cheese into the first bite immediately had the pizza stand out to me and had me ready to come back in the near future for more. The perfect portions from each bite of cheese, sauce and pepperoni also showed the high quality and fresh ingredients used and cooked to perfection.
Though what set the slice apart from your average slice were the pepperoni’s that cup with the heat of the oven. With the cupping of the pepperoni while it cooks, flavor from its oils are maintained on the meat and creates a impactful flavor with each bite. This tactic with the pepperoni on the pie is often utilized by pizza makers looking to add a more high-end aspect to the meal, something that was accomplished here and takes a slice to new heights.

It’s a credit to Campus Pizza, as far too often pizza joints that pop up near universities suffer in quality as they are just looking to make easy money at the expense of college students. This is the quality hard working college students just trying to get by deserve, and at reasonable prices.

As a pizza guy who also enjoys corner slice bites to get crust and pie together, this hit the mark of what I look for in pizza. The crispy and well-cooked crust was the perfect compliment in a bite that included the rest of pizza’s wonderful and basic ingredients. The artistry and effort became clear that while these ingredients are available in every pizza shop, Campus Pizza makes the efforts to create a reliable delicacy.

When I next return to Campus Pizza, which will most likely be soon, I plan on branching out and trying their buffalo chicken bacon ranch pizza and maybe another specialty slice, as well as a side dish or two like wings, to see what compliments a Campus Pizza pie the best. They also feature authentic Indian food that I plan on digging into separately on a non-pizza night.

I would recommend Campus Pizza to anyone in the Amherst area for its efforts in being a reliable spot in the campus community and for its delicious and well crafted pizza.

tlevakis@thereminder.com | + posts