The Budget Epicureans Review: Elizabeth’s Pizza

Jeremy Smyczek | Staff Writer

Each week, the Budget Epicureans select an eatery, take-out establishment or recipe, searching for quality and value. Bonus points are awarded for healthy options.

Elizabeth’s Pizza on Market Street has an odd niche all to itself. Open late, it’s the place one goes when it’s 11:15 p.m., you’ve missed the closing times for conventional sit-down fare and you’d like an actual meal. Elizabeth’s provides a reliable alternative to bars, the approximations of food offered by burger and taco chains or, heaven forbid, the Waffle House.

A certain kind of Italian restaurant review likens the place to how one would actually dine in Italy. So let’s be clear. Elizabeth’s is nothing at all like the experience of having dinner in a secluded haunt in Florence. Sure, the murals of some Mediterranean countryside painted on the dining room walls, electric palm fronds in place of ceiling fans and the house Chianti by the carafe all try hard to give that impression, but one will never doubt for a moment that he or she is in Wilmington, N.C. But the old wooden tables and just-a-bit-too-dark lighting are cozy anyway, and it’s a relaxing atmosphere in which to have a meal.

As one would expect, Elizabeth’s menu is heavy on American-Italian favorites such as pasta and two varieties of pizza turnovers, calzones and stromboli. As seems customary these days, the typical pasta entrée can comfortably feed a family of three. Budget-conscious students may wish to consider sharing a meal.

The peppery bruschetta at $5.95 consisting of toasted Italian bread topped with tomato, basil leaves, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and smoked mozzarella was a solid choice off an appetizer menu that divides itself between traditional Italian selections and the usual deep-fried suspects such as jalapeno poppers and hot wings.

Elizabeth’s also features a variety of fresh salads, including a nice build-your-own option. That said, the standard dinner salad failed to impress, featuring mainly—ugh—iceberg lettuce and a ho-hum creamy Italian dressing. Order a Caesar instead.

Among the pasta entrees, the lobster ravioli was a winner, with al dente, meat-and-ricotta stuffed pasta swimming in a creamy, herby pink sauce. It’s also a steal at $11. Order extra bread for sopping. The spaghetti with red clam sauce at $9.25 worked as well, with a chunky, light tomato sauce that let the pasta and the meat do their work, complemented by a likeable balance of garlic and oregano.

Among the desserts, the dark, rich tiramisu at $3.50 was tasty and visually appealing, with cocoa powder sprinkled atop white mascarpone cheese, alternating bitter with sweet. It seemed suspiciously like it was from a box, but at least it was a good box.

The service on a recent visit, provided mostly by waiters dressed as mafia dons, was quick and exceptionally friendly. It was an additional selling point for a place that already has a lot going for it. Drop by after 10 p.m. for the full effect.


Cuisine: Italian

Price range: $7-$13

Address: 4304 ½ Market St.

Contact: (910) 251-1005 or

Store hours:

10:00 a.m.-midnight seven days a week