Photo |  Daniel Anderson
Cortlandt’s Pizza Pub in Spring Hill offers pizza, soups, salads and daily specials.

Cortlandt’s Pizza Pub • 4356 Old Shell Road, Suite E, Mobile 36608 • 251-342-0024

Only a fool doesn’t believe in second chances. I’ve sort of made my living on someone giving me an opportunity to reprove myself. In this day and age I’ll take any shot at redemption you can give me, which brings me to this: A couple of years ago I had a lousy evening at a Spring Hill location known as Cortlandt’s Pizza Pub. The food I had was good but half the menu was missing and the front of house was an absolute disaster. Maybe it was first-year jitters, but the experience was less than stellar.

On a whim last week I got the craving for pizza. Those who know me understand that doesn’t happen often, but as Katie and I aimlessly drove the streets waiting for some sort of inspiration as to where we would eat that evening, the idea of Cortlandt’s popped into my head. Katie’s never had it and I thought it would be nice to see if things had changed.

We walked into a moderately busy restaurant and I ordered a glass of Les Volets rosé ($7) while Katie studied the menu over water with lemon. When my wine was delivered the waitress stood there, staring at me. What seemed like a minute must have been about five seconds before I realized she was my friend from Laurel, Shannon! We’ve known each other since kindergarten but lost touch, briefly sharing a few words once over the past 20 years or so.

Photo |  Daniel Anderson

After a hasty game of catching up, Miss Shannon brought us our soup ($4.75) and Caesar salad ($3.75). The latter was Katie’s, and it was astonishingly good with a very fragrant homemade dressing that made me question my choice, but when I got to the soup I knew I’d made the right decision. It was a good bit of seafood and corn in an incredible broth. Wow.

We couldn’t decide on pizza until Shannon let us know the chef could split any pizza, even with different sauces, down the middle. Sold! Katie had to have the Tree Hugger, a white-sauce pizza with artichoke, Kalamata olives, roasted garlic and Gorgonzola seasoned with lemon zest, basil and Parmesan. This is right up her alley, especially with the lemon zest and basil. That blue-cheese flavor hits the nose and tongue as the citrus comes in. I had a quick bite but for the most part stayed on my side of the pie.

Pepperoni and meatball is the way to go. With the more traditional red sauce, the sliced meatballs were great with the pepperoni. I’d be crazy not to mention the crust was top-notch with sort of a sourdough flavor.

All of this was pleasantly serenaded by Mobile legend Marcus Elizondo, a musician I’ve admired for years. I wanted to catch his whole set but needed to get to bed.

We couldn’t leave without Shannon convincing us to have the tiramisu ($6.75), which, by the way, was humongous. This isn’t dessert for one. It went home with us but barely saw the light of the next day.

Pleased with our meal, we had to go back to make sure this place was as good a few days later. Our return found us at an outside table on an unusually busy Tuesday. You’ll never guess who our waitress was. I began this evening with a Tasari Nero D’Avola ($8) while Katie sipped her (for the time being) usual.

This go-round Katie had the mixed green salad ($3.75) with Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumber and Parmesan cheese with tiny croutons, tied together with a very notable tomato/citrus vinaigrette. That dressing is worth an attempt at home.

My soup this time was minestrone ($4.75), full of zucchini, carrots, celery, mushrooms, kidney beans and bits of pork loin. Once again, Cortlandt’s nailed this one.

Seems we were on a similar path to our last visit, but tonight Katie ordered a Hot Chicken Hoagie ($9.75). Plain as day, it says on the menu that it comes with a Caesar salad. She didn’t complain and doubled down on the green things while finishing half the sandwich of sliced chicken, sautéed onions, Gorgonzola, Parmesan and white sauce on Italian bread brushed with roasted garlic olive oil.

An order of focaccia ($7.75) adorned with pancetta also boasted roasted garlic, onions and mozzarella. This got me on the appetizer menu and I couldn’t get off. Next thing you know I am ordering the Mac and Cheese ($6.50) with elbow macaroni cooked fresh with house wine cream sauce and three Italian cheeses. It would be enough to top this one with Parmesan, mozzarella and bread crumbs but they gave me the option of adding toppings. I added Italian sausage ($1.25), sliced meatballs ($2.50) and onions (free of charge) for what was the best macaroni I think I’ve ever had.

I’m certain after my previous review (and I was just speaking the truth) they are in no hurry to name a dish after me, but call it what you wish, that combination needs to be on a menu. It turned an appetizer into a full meal, and Lucas is already dying to try it.

Even with the flood of people on a Tuesday evening and with one waitress, our service was stellar, our food prompt and, of course, delicious. It’s the taste Cortlandt’s is known for and I’m glad to see business is going so well. Nothing was off the menu, staff was friendly and, most importantly, I felt like I got what I paid for.

It’s a good feeling to give something a second chance and enjoy the results. I gave Cortlandt’s Pizza Pub a second chance and it was so good I gave it a third.