Update (1/28/2009): Isabella's Oven Closed Until Further Notice
That said, you bring up a good point. Here's the deal ...
Early reviews of the place were good. Phenomenal, in fact. Ed Levine, who made the earliest mention of the joint, loved it. I went a few days later and concurred. It was some of the best pizza I've had in months. We even dragged uber pizza freaks Jeff Varasano and his friend Scott R. there. And they, too, thought it was pretty damn good.
Then reports started coming in via the comments here on Slice and in emails. People who went on Saturday afternoons reported soggy pies. The descriptions from these disappointed readers were enough that one of the crew here at Slice HQ went on a Saturday to try it. Sure enough, he said. "You guys must have been smoking crack when you raved about that place."
OK. Those weren't his exact words, but close enough. We surmised that a different pizzaiolo was filling in on weekends.
So when Ed and I escorted a couple Canucks on a Saturday pizza tour recently that included a stop at Isabella's, we were mighty curious to see for ourselves if the quality level was up to snuff.
As I said the last time I mentioned Isabella's on Slice, we found out that the magical Luigi, the man who made the incredible pies there, had gone back to Italy on personal business. In his place was the usual weekend pizza-maker.
While I wouldn't say he made "HORRIBLE" or the "WORST PIZZA" (chill with the caps, dude), I'd say it wasn't up to Luigi's level. It was a serviceable pie, plenty crisp and fairly balanced as to ingredients, just not "great."
It was, as I said, at the level of the chain Patsy's. And anyone who knows pizza here will know what that means -- adequate but not masterful.