If you fancy a slice of pizza topped by Greek salad, steak taco, or chicken parmigiana, then Antonio's, the Amherst epicenter of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink slices, is certainly your spot. On the surface, it may look like your average pizza-by-the-slice joint, but this is in fact a landmark known far and wide for a bizarre array of combinations that marry scores of improbable ingredients atop a beautifully crispy crust. The formula has led to staggering but well- deserved popularity, especially among the college crowd. We like the justly famous Buffalo chicken pizza with blue cheese, but as with other chicken selections, try to hit it near the beginning of the pie's life cycle, as the chicken can dry out. White pizzas with mozzarella, fresh tomato, and basil are delightfully heady with garlic. They're tasty and satisfying. Fried eggplant slices, thin and crispy, are another great topping choice. Note that "spicy" isn't actually spicy. Steer clear of the plain cheese slice, because the true talents of Antonio's lie in toppings.
Slices are large, filling, and generously endowed-even a double- stacked paper plate calls out for extra reinforcement. Although numerous varieties are kept on the counter at all times, Antonio's seems to possess some magic formula for avoiding the dry texture that can sometimes plague reheated pizza. All this can often add up to a long, but unbelievably fast-moving, queue. When your turn is up, you'll feel pressure to canvass the options on the counter as fast as possible, because your server-one of a mostly male lineup overloaded with impressive manual dexterity, uncanny efficiency, and self-conscious wit-doesn't have much time to waste.
Although there are a few feet of indoor standing-room counter space at which to devour your "mariachi" or "Mexicana" slice, the real scene at Antonio's is outside. On a couple of sidewalk benches, throngs of students, children, blue-collar workers, and businesspeople all rub elbows while enjoying their slices just inches from the Town Common. (Our atmosphere rating takes this festive outdoor component of the Antonio's experience into account.) Late nights during the school year, the post-bar student crowd outside can grow raucous, forming something like a mob scene outside a small-venue concert. The staff has been known to keep serving until 2am if the turnover is sufficient. Even if Antonio's is not as unique as it once was, there's never a wrong time of day to savor a slice at Amherst's most popular pizzeria.