This week, let's talk about pizza. My Dad and Mom were natives of New York City and Long Island respectively, so they were very particular about how a "pizza should be". Like most kids, I just liked any kind of pizza, but rarely was allowed to experience it (until about 1974 when Al's opened near Bachman Lake), constantly tormented by my parent's allegiance to their homeland. My parents hated Texas pizza. "That's not pizza" they'd crow. Any New Yorker reading this is nodding their head right now. Even today, with a proliferation of New York styled pizza places on just about every corner, my Mom swears it's not the same. I disagree, since I've spent many months working in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island myself. She just responds by saying "It's not the same in New York anymore either." I can't win... like I ever could anyway. Other New Yorkers tell me the difference is "the water". Strange as it may sound to those who don't live in New York, it is true that they have the best quality water in the nation. It tastes great right out of the faucet. It's been known that some New York pizza parlors in Florida import the water direct from the City.
But as the RJG has reported in the past, there's all kinds of pizza beyond New York. And our summary today will cover a few different styles. Some are revisits, others are new.
Let's start with Campania in Southlake, one of the finest purveyors of the traditional Naples pie. Though it does appear they've recently lost their certification for being an authentic Neopolitan pizza maker. We wrote about them about a year and a half ago, and our last visit reinforced our great like for the place. Southlake Town Square is the perfect location, and it's setting off the main streets adds to the vibe. It's not impossibly expensive either, as you might expect it would be. The RJG still highly recommends it!
Across Southlake Blvd from the Town Square is another shopping center anchored by a Central Market store. There you'll find Coal Vines. Mr. Music was in NE Tarrant recently and we got together for a day of tunes and cuisine. He'd asked me if we could try Coal Vines since he'd heard about it for sometime now. Coal Vines started in Oak Lawn (Dallas) and is one of the many artisan pizza places going up in America that prepare pizza the old-fashioned way - via a coal oven. Lombardi's in New York City is widely considered the first pizzeria, dating back to 1905. And to this day they still make pies using a coal oven. Due to EPA requirements, there are only a handful that are licensed to use a coal oven in NYC itself. More info on the coal oven pizza craze in America. Back to Coal Vines... I'd been only once, but since Mrs. RJG wasn't in the mood for pizza, I picked it up to-go. Probably not the best idea with pizza like this from a crust perspective. I ordered the Bolognese pie, but it was lacking something - like salt. This visit proved to be much better! We ordered a Spicy Meatball pie. The crust was perfect, and the meatballs were homemade and indeed a bit spicy. They gave us fresh ground red pepper so we could go overboard - which of course we both did being the pepper heads we are. We didn't partake in the wine, but did swallow down a couple of Peroni's. So if you want to know what the coal oven pizza thing is all about, NE Tarrant residents are in luck with Coal Vines.
One of the earliest reviews on this blog was for Palio's Pizza Cafe in Colleyville. We hadn't been since that visit, but recently wandered in for an individual pie, while the wife went for one of their salads. And the results? Even better than we remembered! Plus it's BYOB, and they provide the glasses (remember it's counter service, so not a given). Mrs. RJG and I decided that we should stop by more often for a nice weekday dinner, and maybe sample one of their pasta dishes as well.
I'll stop here and publish Part 2 hopefully within a week, if not sooner.