Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: The Backspace

The Backspace, located at Fifth and San Jacinto, was recommended to me by author Margo Rabb:
It's a relatively small space, with correspondingly limited seating.  All seats have a good view of the bar and the brick oven, though (They're bigger than they look).
I ordered the asparagus appetizer and a fennel sausage pizza and really liked both.

The appetizer came in a cast iron skillet with a fried egg, basil pesto, and prosciutto, and had a nice, earthy quality.  In the future, I fully intend to try some of their other appetizers...

The pizza's crust was somewhat soft, but it had a good chewiness and rich flavor from the slight char/caramelization.  The sauce was chunky and the fennel sausage was really amazing.  I also liked the "blobs" of mozzarella that worked better on this pizza than an entire layer would've (I suspect the effect would've been to steam the crust a bit too much).

Although their web site doesn't specify, they also do carry out, which could be dangerous...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Pieous

For today's Pizza a Day Diet experience, I went way out west -- nearly to Dripping Springs -- to try out Pieous with authors Brian Yansky and Frances Yansky
The place was packed -- and inside seating is limited to a handful of cafe tables, picnic tables, and seats at the bar.  There's more outside, though, and we didn't have trouble nabbing spots.
The pizzas are about 12 inches, so we ordered three: the Smoky Italian (crushed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, house smoked Italian sausage, and spicy onions), the White Pie (mozzarella, basil, garlic, and olive oil), and a bacon pizza.
I didn't have the bacon, but I enjoyed both of the others.  The crusts were soft but chewy, and the cheese (and sauce on the sausage) were flavorful.  The White had a rich, almost Alfredo-like taste, and the Smoky Italian sausage was also really good.  I particularly liked the hint of spiciness that you got in every mouthful.

And fans of TOFU AND T.REX will appreciate the old-school deli slicing machine:

Friday, July 17, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Cajun Pizza Place

At first, I was a bit skeptical about Cajun Pizza Place, partly because of its relatively remote location: 183 and McNeil (aka, South Canada), but I was in the area so decided to try it. 

I ordered a mushroom, onion, green pepper, and crawfish (yes, crawfish) pizza.
As you can see, the toppings are present in abundance and evenly distributed.  The crawfish was actually really good and had excellent flavor and body (I was prepared for frozen, textureless mush) and the pizza on the whole was quite rich and tasty.  I also liked the crust: thin, crisp and flaky in a way that reminded me of the thin crust pizzas from neighborhood joints I had in Chicago growing up.

They are a bit far from me but if I'm ever in the neighborhood again, I'll definitely go back.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Marye's Gourmet Pizza

Marye's Gourmet Pizza Pub is located somewhat out of the way in a strip mall on Bee Cave Road in West Lake Hills and offers pizzas, sandwiches, and other Italian favorites in a new, modern setting.
I ordered a 14-inch sausage, green pepper, and mushroom pizza.
I ordered this one carry out and it took me a while to get there and get back home, but it held up well.  The crust was nicely thin with crispier edges.  The cheese was great and there's a lot of it.  The sausage was crumbled but tasty and nicely caramelized, and the green peppers and mushrooms were conspicuously abundant.  Altogether, a most enjoyable pizza.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Via313

Via313 offers what they call "Detroit-style pizza."  Now, being a Chicagoan and having spent considerable time in Michigan, I'd never heard of "Detroit-style pizza."

It turns out, it's not dissimilar to Chicago-style, in that it is a deep dish, with the cheese properly underneath the sauce. (This prevents the crust from getting soggy -- recently to my disappointment, I ate at a franchise Uno's and they had the cheese on top of the sauce. It was revolting. And heretical.).  Intriguingly, the Via313 pizzas are rectangular, allegedly because they were originally baked in auto parts pans, which is one of those stories that, if not actually true, should be.

Via313, which gets its name from the Wayne County (Detroit) area code, has two trailers and one brick and mortar location.  I went to the trailer at Craft Pride on Rainey Street.

I ordered the Omnivore, with mushroom, onion, green pepper, pepperoni, and sausage.
I was very impressed.  The crust was crisp without being cracker-y and had that chewiness and almost confectionary quality I associate with a good Chicago-style crust (And, of course, it was not soggy). The cheese had a good flavor, as did the toppings.  The sauce was plentiful, but as you can see from the picture, did not cover the entire surface of the cheese layer.

All in all, an exceptional pizza, and I confess I approached the thing with a certain degree of suspicion...:-).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Little Deli and Pizza

Little Deli and Pizza is located in a mid-century strip mall in a residential (Crestview) neighborhood of north-ish Austin and, as the name suggests, doesn't have a lot of dine-in space; it does have a number of outdoor tables which were packed when I picked up my sausage, mushroom, and onion pizza.

This was another where I really liked the sausage -- it had a good, meaty texture and flavor and came in large chunks.  It's thin crust, not extremely crispy, but with enough body to support the weight of the toppings, and was satisfyingly chewy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Bola Pizza

Today's pizza comes from Bola Pizza.  Actually, it comes from Thom's Market grocery store, because Bola Pizza is a home-grown Austin catering-only outfit (they'll bring the oven to you, which sounds kind of awesome) that also offers some of their selections frozen

I bought the Mushroom, one of four varieties -- all vegetarian -- available in the freezer case (Their catering menu features eleven, including some with meat :-)). The Mushroom pizza has a "crimini mushroom ragu, mozzarella, and ricotta."  Here's what it looked like out of the box:
And here it is straight out of the oven:

Judging from their web site, one of Bola Pizza's points of pride is their crust, billed as being made with a "three day, cold fermentation" process.  And I have to say, it was pretty fantastic.  Extremely thin, straight out of the oven it had a terrific crispness (Part of this might be because it was a "white" pizza, i.e., no sauce so they can go a little thinner.). The edges (is there a term for those?) were crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside.

The rest of the pizza was really good, as well, with a light, flavorful, non-greasy texture.  Even better, the cheese tasted the way cheese should (not just a waxy, gooey substrate) and the mushroom ragu would be terrific by itself. On the whole, this might be the best thin-crust frozen pizza I've ever had, better than some in-store or delivery.

The pizzas are available at stores in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Fort Worth.  Click here for the complete list.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: 360 Pizza

So I came home and found this on my door from 360 Pizza:
Naturally, I had to try them (A friend had also recommended their original location).

I ordered the 360 Supreme, with pepperoni, Rosmarina ham, sausage, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, and black olives.  I really liked the toppings on this one: they combined for a terrific combination of flavors.  The crust was also good -- New York style thin crust, not as crisp as some, but still good with a nice chew. I will definitely order from them again.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: House Pizzeria

House Pizzeria, on Airport Boulevard, offers a thin crust Neapolitan style pizza.  I had the pleasure of having lunch there today with authors Jennifer Ziegler and Chris Barton
We ordered a sausage-and-mushroom and a pepperoni pizza.  Both were excellent, with a nice thin crust and abundant toppings.  I ended up liking the sausage a bit more than the pepperoni, but then I generally tend to prefer sausage to pepperoni :-).
Both are recommended, however.  (And the salad (not pictured) was also quite good).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Brooklyn Pie Co.

Just up Burnet Road from Pinthouse Pizza is Brooklyn Pie Company, which serves a more traditional New York-style pizza.  Although the place has a few tables, it's mostly carry-out, with a walk-up counter for ordering.

I ordered a gyro, onion, green pepper, and mushroom pie.  Overall, it had an agrreably crispy crust with a lot of cheesy goodness and abundant toppings.  The sauce was minimal, but sufficient for flavor, and the gyro meat could've been a bit thicker, but had a decent flavor and complemented the other toppings.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Pinthouse Pizza

Day 4 of A Pizza a Day Diet came from Pinthouse Pizza on Burnet Road.

I ordered an "artisanal sausage," green pepper, and mushroom pizza, with a side wedge salad.  The trust was a traditional thin crust (not ultra-thin, like a Neapolitan) and had a slightly bread-like texture with a good body and taste that was not, in fact, bready. 

The artisanal sausage was quite good (I'm beginning to think that the art of sausage-making is making a comeback, which I attribute to the fact that readers of TOFU AND T.REX are coming into their own in the restaurant business :-)).  The cheese and the sauce were well-balanced and flavorful.

And, of course,they're a brewpub with some excellent selections...  

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: Salvation Pizza

Day 3 of this iteration of Pizza a Day Diet was at Salvation Pizza!  They have two locations: one on 34th Street (around where Dragon's Lair was back in the day) and a new one on Rainey Street.  Because I'm a parking masochist, I went to the Rainey Street location (they also do delivery, but not to where I'm at). That said, I didn't encounter difficulties parking -- there's a public parking lot nearby and there were actually spots in front of the restaurant (although I went during off hours).

The place was crisp and clean, in one of the newer buildings close to the Town Lady Bird Lake.
I ordered a 14-inch sausage, onion, and mushroom pizza.  It came really hot out of the oven -- the cheese was nicely gooey and you could almost see the steam rising from the marinara.

The sausage came in nice large slices and had excellent slightly spicy Italian sausage flavor without any greasiness.  The onions were al dente (the way I like them), as were the mushrooms.  So, too, were the chunks of tomatoes in the sauce.  The crust was of the ultra-thin variety, with a crisp edge and chewy bottom.  Like St. Philip, they also feature "white" pizzas without a marinara, which I am anxious to try next time.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Pizza a Day Diet: St. Philip

Today's pizza came from St. Philip, a pizza place with the look and feel of a sushi bar, which seems appropriate, since it's by the same folks responsible for Uchi.  The pizzas are all thin crust, and they give the option of "traditional" sauce and "white."  The latter apparently means there is no tomato sauce at all, which is just wrong :-).  Although I'm slightly curious about it...

I had the House Meatball, which features "ricotta, grilled onion, garlic, basil, [and] chili flakes."

The pizza itself hit the mark on all four of the Very Important Pizza Criteria: crust, cheese, sauce, and toppings.

Crust was nicely textured, with a good level of chewiness and it stood up to the ingredients without getting soggy.  The sauce had a good flavor and was proportional with the cheese - neither overpowered the other and the combination had an elegant subtlety.

And the meatballs were fantastic (and they also sell them as an appetizer).  I might go back just for those.

The only thing I wasn't totally crazy about was the basil -- yes, they added a nice color and texture and flavor, but I kind of object to leaves on my pizza as a matter of principle --  they end up looking wilted and sort of look like the thing has been sitting under a tree in a windstorm.

Still, very, very good, and with reasonable prices and excellent, friendly service -- and I'm curious to try some of their more exotic offerings.

Oh, and did I mention they have their own bakery?

Monday, July 06, 2015

A Pizza a Day Diet: Gino's East

A few years back, when Cyn was teaching at the Vermont College of Fine Arts Writing for Children and Young Adults residency, I decided to conduct a culinary experiment: a comparison (and blog report) of various pizza joints around Austin during the course of about ten days.  I also made a couple pizzas of my own.

The rules were these: aside from a dinner salad prior to the pizza, my meals were pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  For the record, the first time I did it, I lost five pounds; the second time, two and a half.

Here's the inaugural post from 2009:  A Pizza a Day and Other Weird Activities.  To view the entire 2009 line up, just click the "pizza a day" label.

I tried this again January 2015, but posted only to my Facebook account (I'll probably reproduce the posts here soon).  So, this summer, as Cyn heads off to the summer residency, I decided to try it again, with a whole new pizzeria lineup.  (The number of pizza restaurants in Austin has expanded dramatically in the past six years).

And, tonight, I started with the Austin incarnation of Gino's East, one of the great trifecta of Chicago deep dish pizzas (Uno's, Gino's East, Lou Malnati's).

The restaurant just opened and they don't have delivery or carry out yet, but the actual place is charming: a long narrow Sixth Street establishment, with a bar along one side, brick walls and cast iron chandeliers.

The pizza itself was outstanding: the corn meal crust was rich and had a thin bottom with structural integrity that stayed crisp and didn't overwhelm with breadiness. The Gino's East crust is traditionally my favorite of the deep dish pizzas, and this did not disappoint.
I ordered the "Gino's Supreme," with sausage, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers.  The sausage was plentiful, with large flavorful chunks.  The cheese was nicely gooey but not overpowering, and the vegetables were likewise plentiful.  The tomatoes were just a tad sweeter than I typically like, but were a nice contrast to the richness of the crust, and also accommodated the red pepper flakes. 

In sum, it wasn't quite the same as the original, but very good nevertheless.  And the best part?  Leftovers!

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