Todd-Heisler / NYTimes

March 5, 2020

Casablanca’s: Getting into the Cal-Zone

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For over a decade, D.P. Dough has been Ithaca’s prime spot for classic calzones and a haven for hungry partiers, closing at 4 A.M. nightly. The nationwide chain offers a myriad of options, from the classic “Cheeze Zone” (ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan) to the more adventurous “Maui Wowi Zone” (pineapple, ham and mozzarella). The shop is conveniently located a few doors down from the Schwartz Performing Arts Center, which makes it a pit stop for freshman who are tired from a night out on the town. (Similarly, if you’re like me, D.P. Dough’s late-night delivery enables you to satisfy your cravings while in the comfort of the Cocktail Lounge and your endless amounts of study notes.)

However, while D.P. Dough may be relatively well-known and in a prime location, few people know of a restaurant with far superior calzones: Casablanca Pizzeria, which is located in the Ithaca Commons. Calzones from D.P. Dough and Casablanca are priced similarly at roughly $8. Since the calzones cost almost the same amount of dough (pun intended) and Casablanca is oh-so far from campus (convenient if you’re living it up at Mooney’s, though), what makes it worth a trek to the Commons?

Firstly, while the prices may be the same, Casablanca’s calzone is bigger. Furthermore, it is freshly baked; the chef, Paco, even offered to customize mine with whatever vegetables I wanted. I went with mushrooms and spinach. The calzone was beautifully crusty, a healthy blush of golden brown, with a small shimmering of oil on the top. When I broke it open, the cheese oozed out in glorious strings. I could tell from the first bite the calzone was made from scratch. Even for a girl with a big appetite, half of this calzone was enough to quell my previous gnawing hunger.

In contrast, the Cheeze Zone I received from D.P. Dough was less than impressive. Adding a garnish of dry herbs when I received my delivery and unlike my Casablanca calzone, this one had a bone-dry crust and floury exterior. There was no golden-brown sheen and nothing to offset the lack of moisture. The cheese filling was generous but mediocre, not nearly salty enough to contrast the dry crust. Overall, though getting to D.P. Dough is a much shorter venture, I was left rather unsatisfied by the calzone I obtained.

So, whether you happen to already be in the Commons or you’re deciding what comfort food you want to deliver, doughn’t think twice about giving Casablanca a try instead. Besides, they make a killer stromboli too—just as deliciously crispy and fresh as its counterpart. From friendly service to generous portions, Casablanca’s remote location makes it worth it enough to travel to the Commons. And who knows: you might enjoy their calzones so much that you’ll want to come back a-grain!