Some people say there’s no such thing as bad pizza.

That any combination of dough and sauce and cheese, prepared in any manner, is going to be a taste treat.

I don’t think so.

I, for one, appreciate when basic pizza is done well, with some care and some innovative taste creations. That’s why I appreciate Willows Pizza and Restaurant on Broadway, near Route 1, in South Portland.

It’s located in a cozy little block of a building, with comfy booths and green neon in the windows. The radio is playing most of the time, and there are toys in a box for kids to play with. Fittingly, one is a toy pizza.

But besides being a really comfortable family place, the pizza is great. You get the sense they care about pizza as soon as you look at the menu and see the wide range of specialty pies, including pesto chicken, Clams Casino, buffalo chicken, Greek, Mexican and a white pizza with garlic and olive oil for sauce.

The speciality pizzas come in small, medium and large, and range from $6.49 for a small white pizza to $23.95 for a large Greek, Mexican or Deli Department (all meat toppings).

I tried a Greek pizza, which included spinach, feta cheese, Greek olives, tomato slices, onion and sausage. The toppings blended together very well, and the crusty was buttery and crisp, but chewy as well. I got a medium ($19.49), which fed two adults with two pieces left over.

I didn’t choose the Greek easily. The Clams Casino sounded intriguing, with white clam sauce, onion, bacon, garlic, romano cheese and oregano. The buffalo chicken comes with blue cheese dressing, marinated buffalo chicken, red onions and celery. The Deli Department is a meat lover’s kind of pizza with pepperoni, meatball, ham, bacon, sausage and salami.

I also tried a basic small pepperoni pizza, and was impressed. It was not even a little greasy, as pepperoni can sometimes be. The crust was the same as with the large specialty pizza. And like all the pizzas at Willow, it was bigger than its name indicated. The small was 10 inches, and could feed two children easily.

The menu at Willows also includes subs and sandwiches, most ranging from about $5 to about $7.50. Some of the hot sandwiches include meatball, sausage, eggplant, chicken cutlet Parmesan and vegetarian Parmesan. The prices range from about $5.75 to $7.25 for a large.

Also on the menu are calzones, which include your choice of pizza toppings as inside ingredients and range from $6.99 for a plain to $11.99 for the Willows Calzone Special, with pepperoni, meatball, mushrooms, green peppers, onions and sausage.

There are pasta dishes ranging from spaghetti with marinara sauce ($6.49), pesto ($8.49) or clam sauce ($9.99), to lasagna ($8.99) and stuffed shells ($7.95).

And because it’s a family place, there’s a children’s menu with a half-dozen items ranging in price from $2.49 for a French bread pizza to about $3.99 for chicken fingers.

Willows is one of those places where you can bring the kids — they can have fun and have food they want, while the parents can have beer or a glass of wine. And for less than you’d pay in a bar: I had a Geary’s for $3.95.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $7.


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