My search for great pizza continues in my little town of Athens and this day it led me to Transmetropolitan. Don't let the name fool you - this isn't a comic book store or bus transit. This is a pizza joint and a popular one at that. I was hearing so many praises about this place so I naturally jumped on the opportunity when a group of classmates decided to go after finals.
Transmetropolitan (Transmet from now on) has 2 locations in Athens - one on the East side at Ogelthorpe Ave. and one downtown on Clayton Street. Depending on what you're in the mood for, the location you decide should differ. The one downtown has a stellar bar and banquet room upstairs (aka it's packed from Thursday night to Sunday morning) and the one on Ogelthorpe has a patio on the second floor that you can take advantage of when the weather's nice.
The downtown location has a nice vibe about it. Brick walls, hardwood floors, nice paintings, open kitchen - a nice comfortable environment. There's tables and booths of all sizes so no matter how big or small your party is, they'll be able to accommodate you. Ordering is simple - go up to the counter, grab a menu and place your order. The menu's straight forward with the usual stuff - salads, calzones, pizza, panini, pasta and a few entrees. Nothing out of the ordinary.
While the rest of my group ordered a salad I didn't bother because well...they were all ordinary salads. Sorry, but pass - I'm here for the pizza. I ended up ordering the Hungry Sasquatch (pepperoni, Italian sausage, meatballs, ham, bacon, mushrooms, onions, black olives, green peppers, extra mozzarella), White (ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil, fresh garlic, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh cracked black pepper) and Chicken Pesto (baked chicken, pesto sauce, roasted red peppers, red onions, extra mozzarella). Now, the Hungry Sasquatch sounds like a pizza destined for failure with all those toppings but this was one of the only 3 specialty pizzas I could order with a regular crust (others are Sicilian style). The other 2? Vegetarian (um...no) and Hawaiian (just wasn't feeling it that day).
(from left to right: Hungry Sasquatch, Chicken Pesto, White)
Because our group was so large, the orders did take some time but smaller parties that came ahead of us received their pizzas promptly. When they did arrive, mine came on a pizza pan. These slices are huge. For about $3.50 a slice, you get a Man vs. Food sized portion. 2 slices easily makes for a meal...if you finish it all. In general, I didn't find any of the pizzas that great - all bland and tasteless. The traditional crust on the Hungry Sasquatch had no texture so it felt like I was chewing on mush or cardboard. A nice, crispy bottom was thoroughly missed. The toppings fell short in flavor but for what it's worth, this was my favorite pizza out of the 3. The White pizza didn't taste like anything but a glob of mozzarella cheese. No garlic, fresh cracked black pepper or olive oil like the description said. My chicken on the Chicken Pesto was dry and the pizza could've used a stronger pesto that really comes through because the cheese overpowered any flavor the pesto did have. Both of the crusts on the Sicilian pizzas were pretty hard and dry so it was difficult to eat without drinking something in between. Even though the traditional crust was very one note, I'd have to give the nod to the traditional over the Sicilian. The Sicilian was just simply too tough to eat.Can't say this is the best pizza I've had in Athens but like many of these downtown locations, Transmet is a nice place to get full and grab a drink with friends. While the pizza slices are cheap and big in size, they all seem to have balance issues with toppings and problems with the crust. I assume that the food's about the same at their other location but I may visit the one on Ogelthorpe to give their panini/calzone a try. In my personal opinion - I beg to differ on Transmet being the best place in Athens for pizza. Sorry fanboys.
- This place gets slammed at lunch time. Do yourself a favor and go 10 - 15 minutes early if you don't want to wait in line