Painturo's is local-grown Italian restaurant started by brothers Nick and Chad Painter and Nick's wife, Lisa. They first opened for business in their Lebanon location in 2000 (for reader's outside of the Middle Tennessee area, here that's pronounced Leb'nun), expanding to Gallatin in 2006 and Goodlettsville in 2008. They've won awards across surrounding counties, winning "Best Pizza in Sumner County" and "Best Pizza in Wilson County" just months after opening locations in each. In our quest for the best pizza in Middle Tennessee, we headed to the newest location: Mt. Juliet. Without my camera. Oops.
I don't usually mention the dining experience before the pizza, but as I walked through the door (a door that was held open for me by a staff member), I was immediately impressed. Painturo's is an order-and-sit, full service / fast food hybrid restaurant - and these types of restaurants typically lean towards the fast food column in the areas of service, cleanliness, lighting and decor. Painturo's, however, was pleasantly opposite as the staff was very friendly, the restaurant was extremely clean and the service was prompt. The interior dining room imitated an outdoor alley cafe with wooden shutters and string lights.
Now onto the pizza. Painturo's offers "Everyday Pizzas" (cleverly named classics such as the Cumberland Calamity and D's Delight) as well as "Exclusive Pizzas" - pizzas that are described as "edible works of art" and include more non-traditional, California-esque toppings. In addition to the pastas, calzones, sandwiches, salads and desserts, you can design your own pizza; ours was a small pepperoni and cheese.
The medium/thin crust pizza arrived piping hot. The modified St. Louis-style pie was divided with a diagonal party cut leaving diamond shaped "slices" to share. While unique, this cut makes it hard for crust lovers to find a good piece and there are plenty of odd, one-inch bits left around the edges.
The crust had a soft base with a crisper, no-rise edge and a light dusting of cornmeal. It's a wonder that it held up with all of the mounds of gooey, hot cheese draped on top of this pizza. This is some of the highest quantity of cheese I've seen on a pizza with a subsequent pull away factor that was very high. The flavor was mild and unexciting - a simple mozzarella blend - but the sheer amount was incredible. It clung to itself and was almost chewy. On top of the cheese were small, square chunks of reasonably spiced pepperoni that were wading in their tiny pools of grease.
The most notable element of the pizza was the sauce - though for me, that wasn't such a good thing. The sauce was slightly grainy with a bit of grittiness from the fresh spices. It was somewhat spicy, increasing in heat with each bite, but nothing could escape the overwhelming taste of fennel. Over the top on the fennel. Maybe you like fennel. Painturo's loves it. The spice was overpowered, the heavy presence of onion powder was overpowered, even the tomatoes were overpowered by the heavily aromatic FENNEL.
So, the dominant sauce flavor killed it for me. But that shouldn't stop you. Give it a try and tell me what you like. I would certainly go again and try a different pizza.
Lebanon, Goodlettsville, Gallatin and Mt. Juliet
All Locations Open Monday - Saturday
Dine In, Carry Out and Catering
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Friday Night Slice, Part 1: MAFIAoZA's and Joey's House of Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 2: Pizza Perfect and Pizza Perfect Kebobs
Friday Night Slice, Part 3: Rudino's Pizza and Grinders
Friday Night Slice, Part 4: Chicago Style Italian Beef
Friday Night Slice, Part 5: Pie In The Sky
Friday Night Slice, Part 6: Castrillo's Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 7: California Pizza Kitchen
Friday Night Slice, Part 8: Ahart's Pizza Garden (Murfreesboro)
Friday Night Slice, Part 9: New York Pizza Depot (Clarksville)
Friday Night Slice, Part 10: Matteo's Pizzeria
Friday Night Slice, Part 11: Angelo's Picnic Pizza (Antioch)
Friday Night Slice, Part 12: Manny's House of Pizza
Friday Night Slice, Part 13: Nashville Pizza Co.
Friday Night Slice, Part 14: Brick's Cafe
Friday Night Slice, Part 15: Sal's Pizza (Hermitage)
Got any suggestions for places that I should cover? Let me know!