These ones, right here.
This past weekend I watched my little sister, Caitlin, perform with her sketch troupe, Taken Seriously, in their debut show at The New Movement Theater. Cait is a natural born comedian. She came up with her first standup routine when she was just a wee tot. She would put her hands on her little toddler hips and deliver this long, storylike joke. Though her pronunciation was still a little hinky (an account of her being a baby and all) she never missed a line.
"Standally" (Stanley), she'd say. "You're not opposed to do dat!"
Now she's all grown up and taking her funny to a whole new level. Knowing she was funny, I expected to get a good chuckle out of her show on Saturday night, but it was way funnier than that. I spent half of the show doubled over with tears running down my face. It was seriously funny, and I couldn't be more proud of my sister for having helped write it. Taken Seriously is opening for Opposites (a really funny improv team) this Wednesday, 8:00pm at The New Movement Theater on Lavaca Street. If you are free, I highly suggest checking it out. Tickets are just $5 and it's BYOB. Follow Taken Seriously on Facebook to find out about future shows.
I saw Cait perform again on Monday night when she M.C.'d Vanessa Gonzalez's show, I Don't Know Dating. There must be something in the air because again, I was totally unprepared for how funny it would be. I Don't Know Dating is a one-woman sketch show where Vanessa explores - quite candidly - the craptastic side of romance.
I Don't Know Dating is on again next Monday, February 16. It is the perfect show to go see with a group of your girlfriends, especially right after Valentine's. It will be at The Spiderhouse Ballroom (29th and Guadalupe) at 7:30. You can check out the FB Event Page for more details.
Speaking of my incredible sisters, Heather is running the Austin marathon this weekend, and is just nine(ish?) weeks out from running the BOSTON MARATHON! What? She's a freaking firework. Heather will be running for Project Life, a charity that does all kinds of amazing things for humanity. She's started a blog, Heather Runs, to track her training and progress and to act as a fundraising platform. Heather's goal is to raise $5,000 for Project Life before she runs Boston. It would be amazing if you would consider making a donation on her page, visiting her blog, and sharing it with your people. Go, Heather, go!
Another new blog I am pumped about is Love the Retro Life. My friend, Sailor, is a period expert, a pinup photographer, and a talented stylist. She is the genius who glammed my bridesmaids and myself for my retro wedding back in 2009. Since then Sailor has run a successful pinup studio. Now she's taking on a lifestyle blog and I couldn't be more excited to see what this talented gal dishes out. Check out her blog at SailorRetro.com or follow her on the Love the Retro Life Facebook Page.
I may not be the one training for a marathon, but I sure do love to load up on carbs. I've been eating a whole lot of pizza lately in order to research picks for this year's pizza guides. I shared my New York Style Pizza Guide yesterday, but am also working on a Neopolitan Guide and hopefully a Most Unique Pizza Guide. My travels recently took me over to the small food truck park at South First and Elizabeth that houses 40 North Pizza and Regal Ravioli. The proprietor of 40 North had asked my friend Suzanna of South Austin Foodie to come check it out, so we made it a food blogger date.
CC and I helped Suzanna gobble two pizza pies. The first was one of their weekly specials - topped with roasted butternut, mozzeralla, thyme, red chiles, and hot honey. Yum. These guys definitely know what they are doing when it comes to pizza. The crust was great, the toppings were tasty, and the pie was baked just right. After that we tried the truck's most famous pie, the Hot Honey. This was a tomato sauce pie topped with dollops of house-made ricotta, thin sliced coppa, and a drizzle of hot honey. I never would have thought to put honey on pizza, but it really works. The sweet honey with the savory tomato is just delicious, especially when an element of heat, like spicy coppa or red chiles is thrown in. I enjoyed 40 North quite a bit and would happily return. By the way, you can check out Suzanna's take on 40 North on her blog, South Austin Foodie.
We were also treated to a bite by Regal Ravioli. I had heard many times how great their beet ravioli was, but hadn't yet had a chance to try it. While I do love a good beet now and then, they aren't my favorite so I am often weary of trying beet-based dishes while I am out and about. I am really glad that I got the chance to taste these ravioli though - they were something special. Caked in a chunky pesto sauce and stuffed with savory beet puree, this was the kind of beet dish that makes me want to give those red little globes another shot. They were really, really good.
Note: This post has been updated from last year's guide to New York style pizza in Austin. Click here to check out last year's post.
Let's talk about pizza, specifically, New York Pizza. What constitutes New York style pizza anyway? Is it the thickness of the crust, the flavor of the sauce, or the type of oven that it's cooked in? The short answer is "yes". It's all of those things, but above all, it's a combination of textures and flavors that spells out comfort to anyone who grew up in or around New York City.
I was born in Maine, but grew up mostly in Fairfield County, Connecticut and Yonkers, New York. All in all, I spent the majority of my life within an hour of "the city". As you might imagine, I ate a lot of pizza growing up. Apart from the occasional Sicilian or deep-dish pie, New York Style pizza was pretty much it. Everyone had their favorite hometown pizza places, but looking back, you could count on certain similarities in one pie to another.
What is New York Style Pizza?
First and foremost, comes the crust. If you ask me, a good New York style crust should be of a thin to medium thickness, with a dry, leathery bottom. It has to be thick enough to be sturdy in your hand, but thin enough not to overpower the toppings. As a rule, if you can't fold it in half comfortably, it's not quite right.
The texture should be soft and slippery beneath the cheese, with the occasional bubble for good measure. The outer crust shouldn't be so thick that it robs the eater of valuable cheese space, but it does need to be round and sturdy, about two or three times as thick as the rest of the crust of the pie. As for flavor, alkalinity is the key, something that you don't find very often outside of the Tri-State area. A great crust is slightly salty, crispy on the outside, and chewy on the inside, kind of like a really great Italian bread.
Next comes the sauce and the cheese. This can vary quite a bit from place to place, and probably accounts for most of what enamors a pizza lover to one pizzeria over another. The preferred amount of sauce on pizza is a hot topic, as is the sweetness and seasoning of the sauce itself. Overall, I'd say a good New York Style pizza sauce isn't overly sweet, but packs plenty of intense tomato flavor. There should be enough sauce to achieve that brilliant slippery texture under the cheese, but not so much that it results in a soggy crust.
As for cheese, quality counts, but it isn't everything. I've thoroughly enjoyed many a greasy cheese slice in my day. Sometimes my favorites were the pies that needed a good blotting with paper towel before the first bite. Still, there is such a thing as going too cheap on the mozzarella. That's where plenty of pizza joints lose me. The thing is, you could have the greatest crust in the world, but if your sauce tastes like ketchup and your cheese looks like it belongs on a Bagel Bite, I'm going to feel like I'm eating in a school cafeteria. That stuff is the pizza of nightmares.
Want to know even more about what makes a New York style pizza great? Check out this amazing piece of pizza journalism from Serious Eats.
A Word on New Jersey and New Haven Style Pizza
Closely related to New York Style Pizza are the tri-state brethren New Jersey and New Haven style. It would probably take a true pizza expert to discern which style was which in a pizza line-up, but I applaud the efforts of anyone trying to replicate their one true pizza love.
New Jersey style pizza tends to go a little heavier on the sauce than a classic New York pie. A Jersey resident once told me that you should be able to see the sauce through the cheese.New Jersey style shares the thin crust of New York pizza but often has a little crispiness to it where a New York pizza is a little more flexible and leathery.
New Haven style pizza has an extra-thin crust characterized by a crispy, crunchy bite. Classic New Haven pizzas also vary in shape, being originally made in an oval rather than a circular pie.
Our Pizza Picks
So, let's get down to business. Which pizzerias in Austin makes the best New York style pizza? I've joined forces with a crack team of Tri-State natives to see which pies reign supreme.
Here's a look at the team:
Through a long series of double-dates, takeout nights, and pizza-devouring we selflessly put our stomachs on the line to find out if anyplace in Austin was truly doing justice to the New York Style. Here's what we came up with.
Home Slice: Sarah and Steve's favorite
1415 South Congress / Mon to Thurs 11am to 9pm (Tuesday More Home Slice Only) / Fri & Sat 11am to midnight / Sun noon - 11pm
Home Slice definitely wins the prize for best atmosphere. This South Congress institution is a great place to meet up with friends. There is almost always a wait, but you can grab a drink, chill out on the back patio, and chat the time away in relative comfort. The wait being peppered with the aroma of freshly baked pizza doesn't do a thing to hurt the food's reputation either. In fact, I bet that sitting down hungry helps make up for any mediocrity that Home Slice Pizza might be guilty of.
While it burns me a little to pay so much for pizza and salad, the option of ordering family style is awfully endearing. Ordering a large pizza "family style", means that it comes with an enormous house salad to share, and four freshly baked garlic knots. Bread and salad are key to a true New York pizza experience, so I have to give it up to Home Slice in this department.
As for the pizza itself, Home Slice is a great example of displaced New York pizza. The crust, sauce, and cheese are all ALMOST there. The crust is a bit too crispy and airy for my liking, and of course, is missing that magical leathery bottom I'm so obsessed with.
Brooklyn Pie Company: My favorite
Northwest Hills: 8127 Mesa Dr Suite B-202 / Mon-Sat: 11am - 9pm / Sun noon - 9pm
South: 9500 S IH 35 / Mon-Wed: 11am - 10pm / Thurs-Sat: 11am -11pm / Sun noon - 10pm
Central: 5425 Burnet Rd
North: 6301 West Parmer Lane Suite 502 / Mon - Wed 11am - 10pm / Thurs - Sat 11am - 11 / Sun noon - 10pm
Round Rock: 2711 La Frontera Blvd. Ste. 330 / Mon - Sat 11am - 9pm / Sun noon - 9pm
Brooklyn Pie Company recently swooped in and stole my heart for Austin's best New York style pizza. What sets this pizza apart is the crust. I'm yet to find another place in Austin that gets the crust so very right. It has a leathery bottom, a slippery under-cheese layer, and a crispy, crunchy, tasty outer rim. Now and then I've even seen a bubble.
One complaint I do have about Brooklyn Pie Company is that it isn't entirely consistent. The amount of sauce and bake time seems to vary. To solve this problem I've started ordering my pies well done with a little extra sauce. This seems to be the magic trick that delivers amazing pizza every time.
Yaghi's: Scott's Favorite / Best Cheap Pizza
All Locations: Sun - Thurs 10am - 9pm / Fri & Sat 10am - 10pm
Bee Cave: 12400 Highway 71 West
Cedar Park: 2100 Cypress Creek Rd
Cedar Park: 920 N. Vista Ridge Blvd
Georgetown: 4500 Williams Dr, Suite 200
Pflugerville: 1552 FM 685
SW Austin: 4220 W. William Cannon
As a Tri-Stater, my husband just can't abide $18 pizzas. I guess it's just a matter of being incredibly cheap stubborn. So when it comes to lazy weeknight pizza binges, Yaghi's is his top pick. They offer New York style pizza at reasonable prices, and even have coupons for pickup and delivery deals. It isn't the best pizza on Earth, or even in Austin, but it's good, cheap, and fast. In my husband's eyes, that's everything that pizza ought to be.
Hoboken Pie Company: Favorite Drunk Pizza (Jersey Style)
718 Red River Street / Mon - Fri 11am - 3am / Sat & Sun noon - 3am
If you find yourself craving a late night slice while staggering down Sixth Street, head to Hoboken Pie Company. This isn't my favorite New York style pizza in town, but it does have some very loyal fans. Give it a shot. After a few beers, you're almost guaranteed to be into it.
Saccones: Chris & Kristin's favorite (Jersey Style)
11416 FM 620 North / Mon - Sat 11am - 10pm / Sun 11am - 9pm
This little pizzeria is located in North Austin. Being the lazy bum that I am, I still haven't made my way up there to investigate. Luckily, Chris and Kristin, two fellow pizza officianados whose opinions I trust indubitably, give it a big thumbs up. Here's a little snippet from Kristin of Mad Betty:
"The cheese is right. The sauce is right. Dear lord, the crust is THIN! And not weird cracker thin. Pizza-folding-thin. There’s nothing about this place that I would change. Except the location. At least 45 minutes from the cool part of Austin, it’s a hike. But a relief to know that in a pizza emergency, I don’t have to get on a plane for a decent slice." Click here to read Kristin's full blog post
2015 PIZZA UPDATE
I'm thrilled to report that we have some great new pizza joints to add to the list! The following places have been recommended to me over and over again by fellow pizza lovers, so I encourage you to go check them out.
West: 6203 N Capital of Texas Hwy - Sun to Thurs 11am to 9pm / Fri & Sat 11am to 10pm
South: 2107 Kinney Ave - Sun to Thurs 11am to 9pm / Fri & Sat 11am to 11pm
Kristin investigated 360 Pizza this past Summer and gave it a big thumbs up. Here's a little snippet from her review post published back in July.
"The crust was thin enough to fold, yet robust enough to hold its own weight. Crunchy, a little leathery, with just the right amount of yield when I bit into it. The crust is usually where pizza goes wrong, and I’m happy to say that it was the best feature of our pie. The cheese was nicely browned, if a little heavy-handed. I find that pizza is often over-cheesed in this queso lovin’ state. I like to see a little sauce through the cheese. Speaking of sauce, this one was rich in tomato flavor. No complaints. Click here to read the full post."
Jersey Giant Pizza (Jersey Style)
13903 Hwy 71 West, Bee Cave, TX / Mon - Sat: 11am - 8pm / Sun: closed
After reading some very emphatic reviews, Kristin and I made the trek out to Bee Caves to investigate Jersey Giant Pizza. This tiny little pizza shop serves up pies, subs, and slices in the New Jersey style for a reasonable price. The crust is crunchy and thin. The pizza has plenty of sauce, and the cheese is pleasantly chewy and gooey. You won't find much in the way of fancy toppings or pricey antipasti, but you won't find long lines or overpriced pizza either. If you find yourself way out West, stop by and check it out - perhaps after taking a dip in Hamilton Pool?
Little Deli Pizzeria (Jersey Style)
7101-A Woodrow Ave. / Mon - Sat: 11am - 9pm / closed Sun
Little Deli was one of the places I received a lot of feedback about after posting this guide last year. The people who love this place like, really love this place. It's pizza is purported to be thin and crispy, high quality, and consistent. They are also known for their sandwiches. When I heard that tid-bit I got really excited. Would I finally find a source for the long lost grinders of my home? Though their menu looks tasty enough I'm sad to report that no, there are no chicken parm or eggplant grinders at Little Deli. The sandwiches seem to be well, more deli-like. Guess that figures. Anyway, if you want the scoop on Little Deli, check out this quote from Linda at Girl Eats World:
"Tastes so good and rivals Austin’s beloved Homeslice. Thin, crisp crust, melted mozzarella that pulls, stretches, and clings onto the crust. The cherub tomatoes give way to a burst of flavor upon chomp. Such a simple and winning combination, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil." Click here to see Linda's full post.
Salvation Pizza (New Haven Style)
Central: 624 W. 34th St / Mon - Thur 11:30am - 10pm / Fri 11:30am - 11pm / Sat noon - 11pm / Sun noon - 10pm
Downtown: 51 Rainey St / Sun - Wed 11:30am - 11pm / Thurs 11:30am - 2pm
Salvation Pizza is perfect for those who adore a super-thin crispy crust on their pizza. It's also known for it's slightly un-Texan toppings, like artichokes, clams, and capers.
The Bottom Line
Even though we had a great time finding our favorites here in Austin, we all pretty much agree that nothing truly compares to the "real thing". Personally, I feel like each of these pizzerias come close in their own way, but none of them seem to have the whole package intact. It's like every restaurant holds one precious piece of the New York pizza puzzle. If only we could Frankenstein them together into the ultimate pie.
Of course, this all begs the question, why bother to make New York style pizza in Texas at all? Anyone familiar with the "real thing" knows how little hope there is of someone actually getting it right. A fellow blogger recently compared it to eating Thai food in Venice.
I get that, but for me pizza is a comfort food. When it comes to comfort food we all reach for the version that we grew up with. I'm looking for the pie I counted on every Friday night when my family would order out. I want the pizza that burnt my knees on the ride home through a greasy cardboard box - the easy meal I took for granted whenever life got too stressful or busy to cook dinner.
While I would be the first to admit that there is better pizza in Austin, better isn't always what I want. When I need an emo-pizza fix, only New York style will do. I'm very grateful that there are pizza cooks here in Austin doing their best to warm my heart with a little slice of home.
What's your favorite New York style pizza in Austin? Give your favorite a shout-out in the comments below.
Want to find more cool stuff in Austin? Visit my I Heart Austin Pinterest board!
This post was part of the annual Austin Food Blogger Alliance City Guide. I share my top New York Style pizza picks every year! Click here to check out last year's post. This year I plan to share even more pizza love, so stay tuned for my upcoming posts on Neapolitan Style Pizza in Austin and The Most Interesting Pizza in Austin.
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