Category Archives: Pizza

Coal Vines – Uptown Dallas

So … my company started a fitness challenge.  This isn’t your ordinary “Biggest Loser”-type weight loss challenge … it’s serious.  They gave us a meal plan and a daily exercise regimen–the types of things that I just can’t get behind.  Needless to say, I planned my own fitness challenge–start running on a regular basis again and stop eating pizza.  The ladder of the two has nearly killed me.  Case in point … the team that handles Coal Vines’ PR had a media night the second day of my fitness challenge.  (Seriously?!)  If it were nearly anywhere else, I’d have told them that they can keep their pizza and I’d delight in their other offerings, but I cannot say no to a Coal Vines White Pizza.  It’s just not possible for me.  So, I ran a little further that morning and ventured in with my friend for dinner.

We started the evening with their fried zucchini chips (which haunt my dreams) and a bottle of 2014 Astica Cuyo from Mendoza, Argenita, which, as it turns out, retail for a hot $5 a bottle at your local wine shop.  (I think my dad had the right idea when he went in to the wine business.)  I will say that, despite the low price tag, we enjoyed the bottle … all of it.  (I mean … it was a Tuesday, so why wouldn’t we?)  Coal Vines has done a damn decent job of finding wines at a reasonable price whose taste doesn’t disappoint.

Astica Wine and Fried Zucchini
Astica Wine and Fried Zucchini

New chef, Angelo Landi, has really done well with the menu.  As mentioned previously, I eat their white pizza like it’s my job.  (Or at least I did when I was completely obsessed with this place and ate there at least once a week 2008-2011 … they knew my name.)  Luckily, this meal forced me to try some of Angelo’s new items and seasonal offerings like the watermelon and tomato salad situation that I’ve tried to replicate in my own kitchen a few times since.  Honestly … it was ridiculously good.  The tomatoes were fresh and the watermelon wasn’t drowned in the light dressing … all great.  Then came the Burrata, which was also really damn delicious.  The cantaloupe added the perfect sweetness to the garlic-kissed cheese and greens.  To keep it a little less healthy (yuck yuck), we also ordered the Calamari which is served with tomato basil dipping sauce and lemon garlic aioli–a standard that they’ve kept constantly satisfying for years.

Enough foreplay … let’s get to the pizza, shall we?  Their schtick is New York-style pizza from a wood-burning oven … think somewhat thin with a perfectly bubbly crust.  My love affair with their White Pizza has lived on for no less than eight years and I dare say that it’ll remain for years to come.  It’s the perfect blend of Mozzarella and ricotta cheese spiced up with parmesan and oregano.  When I say “perfect”, I really kind of mean it.  Don’t f**k around and order the White Special–while it’s good, it’s like putting an engine on a flying unicorn* … it just doesn’t need anything else.

White Pizza
White Pizza

Coal Vines is in the same location in Uptown, but they have a few new tricks.  Stop in and see what Chef Angelo is cooking up.  (Obi, make sure to order the White Pizza.  And be sure to meet Wolf, their bartender that has been there for at least eight years!  He’s the kind of guy that you just know has some amazing stories to tell if you could only get him started.)

If you want to read a seriously old review about their brunch, you can check it out here.

*It’s 1:30am. I’m not sure where that metaphor came from … but I don’t hate it.


Coal Vines Uptown Dallas
www.coalvines.com
Facebook | Twitter
2404 Cedar Springs Road
(214)855-4999‎

Specials: Sunday | 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. | $4 mimosas, poinsettias, Pompelmos, and peach lemonade bellinis

Coal Vines treated me and a guest to dinner to try out new menu items.

Palio’s Grapevine

I love visiting Grapevine … it’s perfectly quaint with a little something for everyone.  I began the night by dropping by Messina Hof to refill my growler with some cabernet sauvignon before heading down the road to Palio’s for dinner. (Palio’s is an order at the counter or take out restaurant. If my visit was the norm, it seems they do a large amount of their business in take out orders.)

IMG_3975

Palio’s is a chain that can be found all around DFW, but each restaurant is independently owned. They make their dough from scratch daily and use all natural ingredients. They offer authentic Italian pastas, salads, calzones and side dishes.

To keep things fresh, each month they do a few specials like Wives Appreciation Night, National Dog Day, and National cheese Pizza Day–each special offers some sort of free pizza. Luckily, I made it there on National Cheese Pizza Day, which included a free cheese pizza if you spent a certain amount of money! (And the only thing better than pizza is free pizza. 🍕)

I went for the pizza of the month, which was a meat and cheese stromboli and it was served with a side of marinara and a garlic butter sauce. I would highly recommend the garlic butter because … duh, butter makes everything better.

The dessert display looked reeeeeeally good, but I was stuffed and just couldn’t. (Could I?) Palio’s graciously gave me a cannoli to take home, which was AMAZING.

In the summer, Palio’s has a great patio that is a perfect place to watch the fireworks over Lake Grapevine. Sounds like the perfect night to me. I mean … pizza, wine, fireworks … yeah.

PALIO’S GRAPEVINE
1000 Texan Trail, Suite 100, Grapevine, Texas
817-328-0777
www.paliosgrapevine.com

Hours – Mon-Sun: 11am-10pm

*I was treated to dinner compliments of Palio’s Grapevine.

Greenville Avenue Pizza Company

If there are two things I know for certain: it’s that it’s hot as balls outside and that pizza is the best thing that God made.  (Only one of those is constant.)

Greenville Avenue Pizza Company (GAPCo) is the little pizza shop on Lowest Greenville that has supplied drunkards with the perfect late night food generously sprinkled with Pizza Crack (more on that later) since 2007.  This food isn’t just any drunk food … it’s good enough to even eat sober.  The owner, Sammy Mandell, spent the evening with our group and told us about his baby on Lowest Greenville that has gone from a small pizza shop to a rebranded, refurnished restaurant that was named one of the top 100 highest grossing pizzerias in the U.S. this past year.  By which I’m not surprised at all because everything in GAPCo is made by hand–from the dough to their ranch.*  The employees, from management to delivery drivers, are 100% behind Sammy and the brand and they support the shop and each other in spades.  In fact, Sammy’s wife, Molly, not only takes charge of their snarky social media channels, but also rolled GAPCo’s meatballs for years.  (They were even dubbed “Mollyballs”!)

BOOZE INFO: GAPCo offers Texas craft beers (uhhh and some wine)–Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Martin House Brewing Company, Cedar Creek, Saint Arnold, Shiner, and Eastciders dry cider.   I mean … what’s possibly better than a cold beer and pizza when it’s 100º outside?  (Maybe just following it up with a Steel City Pop from across the street.)

We’ll get to the pizza, but we have to chat about some of their other items first.  (Because once pizza enters the conversation, that’s all there really is.)  If you’ve never branched out past pies here, you’re missing out.  The first thing that hit the table was a GIANT meatball and garlic knot.  The Meatballs are 81/19 beef (the texture is perfect), lovingly hand-packed, and served with marinara sauce that takes five hours to make.

Their salads are delicious, fresh, crisp, and unique.  The Brutus Salad was their take on a Caesar salad without being drenched in heavy dressing or sporting the cliche croutons (take a basic chicken Caesar salad, then add tortilla strips, diced jalapeños, and jalapeño Caesar dressing).  The Italian Salad–romaine, kalamata olives, pepperoncini, parmesan, shallot vinaigrette dressing–was quite good, but I’d stick with the Brutus on my next visit.

Now, a pizza place with salads options … that’s super expected.  But … a pizza place with wings good enough to stand on their own is a diamond in the rough.  I don’t know if I’d ever attempt these spicy pieces of chicken goodness after a couple drinks, but sober, I’d eat the shit out of these fried Hot Buffalo Wings and would only pause to find a napkin and make sure my lips were still intact.  And that aforementioned homemade ranch … it kind of makes these transcendent.  The Lemon Pepper Wings had a perfect crisp to them if you’re into that not-as-saucy situation and the lemon flavor in the seasoning is surprisingly refreshing.

Hot Buffalo Wings

No … for the main event: the pizza.  I think Bill Murray said it best when he said, “Unless you are a pizza, the answer is ‘yes, I can live without you.’”  Amen, brother.

GAPCo’s pizza, like its other menu items, are made with homemade ingredients.  You can TASTE the love in these slices.  The fresh cheese, delicious meats, veggies, and more come together in a beautiful symphony of flavors and crispiness.  Have it drunk and you’ll never ask your Uber driver to take you through the Whataburger drive-though again.  The pieces hold up nicely without that sad wilting effect brought on by too much grease and not enough “crusture”.  (Crust structure … it’s going to be a thing.)

I think it was all over for me when I had my first bite of the Supreme Pizza–pepperoni, ham, green peppers, onions, mushrooms, bacon, and olives.  I mean … the bacon wasn’t just any bacon; it was just thick enough to really stand out in a crowded pizza but not feel like you’re missing a helping of eggs.  (And once that Pizza Crack hits the cheese, you know it’s all over.)

Their famous Pizza Crack is made with garlic, salt, and their special mix of spices.  Apparently they sell enough of this stuff that they’ve started selling jars of it.  Full disclosure: a jar of this was one of the first things in the cabinet at my new condo.

Stay tuned to GAPCo for more new offerings coming up … they have a great product and are finding more ways to evangelize to the people of Dallas.  Recently, GAPCo came out of the cover of night and they’re now open for lunch.  The lunch special is $10 for a slice of cheese or pepperoni pizza, caesar salad, and a fountain drink.  (And they’ll start offering brunch in August!)

GREENVILLE AVENUE PIZZA COMPANY
www.gapc.co | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
1923 Greenville Ave (Lowest Greenville)
(214) 826-5404

Hours:
open for lunch daily at 11am
open for dine-in and delivery until:
– 1am on Mondays
– 3am Tuesday – Thursday
– 4am on weekends

*Unlike some places … they don’t discriminate against ranch-eaters.  (We’re people, too–we just happen to be Texans.)

Blaze Pizza Grand Opening Event

Let’s get serious for a hot minute … Is there anything better in life than indulging in a piping hot, cheesy, made-to-order pizza? Well, maybe one thing: if that pizza happens to be FREE. Listen up, folks. You’re going to want to hear this.

Blaze Pizza, Frisco’s latest purveyor of pies, will host their grand opening celebration on Friday, May 22, from 10:30 AM-11 PM. Simply follow Blaze Pizza on InstagramTwitter, or  Facebook, and receive a FREE custom-built, artisanal pizza (one per guest) any time that day. It’s that simple!

And let me tell you, this pizza … it’s good. I had the opportunity to sneak a peek (and a bite) this evening, and I promise you, you won’t want to miss this.

A little 411 on Blaze Pizza: they make their own dough (from scratch) and offer 30+ fresh, artisanal ingredients to choose from on their signature pizza assembly line. As you mosey on down the line, your dedicated “pizzasmith” will customize your pie. You can choose from 8 compelling Blaze signature pizzas or opt to craft your own masterpiece. With unlimited toppings at your disposal, the build your own option (which is a generously proportioned 6-slice pie) is a steal at $7.95. Your selection is then fast-fired in a blazing hot oven for 180 seconds, resulting in a perfectly crisp crust with just the right fold-ability factor (yeah, that’s a word).

Also available are a variety of beautiful salads (the Tomato, Basil, and Ovalini is not to be missed and is just $3.95). I’m told the S’more Pie is a must, so save room for dessert. Blaze will offer beer and wine, featuring Community and 512 for your sipping pleasure.

Blaze Pizza
blazepizza.comFacebook | Twitter | Instagram
3311 Preston Rd., Frisco, TX 75034
(972) 468-9700

Open Daily:
Sunday: 11am – 9pm
Monday – Thursday: 10:30am – 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 10:30am – 11pm

In Vivo (53) Veritas

I made the trek to Fort Worth, y’all.  I don’t do it often, so you must know it was because I knew something special (read: delicious) was waiting for me.  In this case, it was worth the drive.  #SDDContributor Amanda (covering Fort Worth) and I stopped into Vivo 53 in Downtown Fort Worth accompanied by a delightful representative from their PR company.  I threw my hands up and let the experts decide what to feed me, and that was a great decision.

We started with Chicken Meatballs (free range, served with tomato sauce, rucola, and red onion) and they were hard to find in all of the greenery, but worth the search.  To go with our appetizers, the bartender brought us a round of their best selling drink, the Vesuvius (serrano pepper, 360 organic vodka, blood orange juice, strawberries, ginger beer, and organic agave).  It really had a kick to it, enough so that I was regretting that I’d forgotten my heartburn medication!  The flavor was strong and delicious, so I’d order this one again … but I’d try to be more prepared next time.  Their version of Bruschetta featured three crostini–corona fagioli (beans) with herbs, chilies, and sea salt, a smoked albacore tuna with peppers and chives, and a chicken liver pate with capers, prosciutto and lemon.  I really loved all three (and especially the pate), but the table seemed to like the tuna one best.  (Babies.)  You can order them by flavor or a trio of the three.

Drinks kept flowing and the table ordered  the North Texas Breeze, Italian Mule, and Aquila Artiglio.  The North Texas Breeze (Deep Eddy Vodka, St. Germain , Thai basil, lime, pineapple juice, honey, and prosecco) is their second best seller behind the Vesuvius, and for a good reason.  It was perfectly light and sweet, but with good body.  The Italian Mule (raspberries, 360 organic vodka, lime, balsamic vinegar, and ginger beer) was an interesting take on the traditional Moscow Mule and the balsamic vinegar gave it a bit of extra complexity.  (Oh, and they’d run out of raspberries, and when my friend ordered this drink, they had someone run out to get more. That’s service.)

I’m not even sure how to start my description of the dinner we had.  Suffice it to say that everything was delicious and the pasta dish haunts my dreams.  We enjoyed the Brussels Sprouts that were roasted just so with a nice bit of oil … and it’s too bad that I ate them all and didn’t leave any for my fellow diners.  Do yourself a favor and order their Vivo Truffle Fettuccine cause OMG.  I mean … I like truffles, but this stuff was beyond.  The flavor was just strong enough to be intriguing, but definitely wasn’t overpowering.

The 53 in their name refers to the number of recipes they attempted to get to the perfect pizza crust.  I’ll just say … it was definitely lucky number 53!  The crust on their “pizze” is perfectly crispy and has a nice mix of delicate herbs that give it a kick of flavor.  We tried the Bianca Pizza (mozzarella, sottocenere*, fontina cheese, parmesan, and sage) and the Burrata Pizza (bur rata, prosciutto, tomato, rucola, and grana padano).  I’d order the Bianca again in a second, but the Burrata pizza, while good, wasn’t what I’d expected.  The burrata is simple plopped on top of a cheeseless pizza with a pile of rucola on top.  (I’m just preparing you because I was surprised.  Friends look out for friends, ya know.)

Dessert, while difficult to find space in my completely full and satisfied stomach, was worth it.  The Torta Fritta (fresh donuts rolled in sugar) were ah-mazing.  The chocolate dipping sauce it’s served with was rich and warm.  I had to stop myself from eating them all … stupid half marathon training.  (Blame my sister.)  We also tried out their Dolce Crema Bruciata (vanilla custard with brûlées sugar crust and fresh berries) was good … but I’d suggest ordering a second Torta Fritta if you have the room!  Oh, and their bartender was nice enough to make me an off-menu espresso martini.  It was just the nightcap I needed and kept me alert enough not to call it a night and head home to put on my comfy pants.

Vivo 53’s feel welcoming, yet clean and modern.  The high ceilings make it feel much larger than it is.  The seating area is actually somewhat limited, which keeps it intimate.  A set of tables toward the back are separated by large walls, making each feel private.  There are TVs in the bar to catch a game or two, and seats around the oven so you can watch the magic happen.

They JUST released that they’ll be offering happy hour … both regular and REVERSE!  Stop in for the items below from 3-6pm and after 9pm EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK … that means Fridays and Saturdays.  Eccellente, miei amici.

  • $3 wells
  • $4 select wines
  • $3 American beers
  • discounted pizzas
  • 1/2 off small plates

VIVO 53
www.vivo53.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
525 Taylor St., Ft. Worth, TX 76102
855.202.1370

Hours of Operation:
Sun-Thurs 11am-9.30pm
Fri-Sat 11am-12am

 

*”Sottocenere al tartufo is a very pale yellow to off-white cheese with truffles that has a grey-brown ash rind” – Wiki

Saved by the Bell

unnamed-14Class is in session, people.  Public School 214 will open its doors in the new section of West Village on January 29 as the first Texas location from the Los Angeles restaurant.  The open format, 5,000 sq. ft., 200 seat restaurant features a full bar with a dining room opposite.  The music and simplicity of the decor (industrial lighting, globes and other elementary reminiscent ephemera) keep the vibe modern and a bit hipster — this isn’t so much the place you’d go for a quiet meal, but for some good people watching with a good drink and a meal no the side, this’ll be the place.

While the vibe is decidedly Uptown, the food is anything but ordinary.  I’m talkin’ Chorizo Mac & Cheese, Fig & Prosciutto Pizza, Lamb Bolognese, and Nutella Cookie Sandwich out of the ordinary.  More on the food later … because cocktails.

The talked about the PS214 bar program with Colin Kerr, director of operations.  He is so passionate about what he does, and the cocktails on the menu are evidence of that.  He made each cocktail so unexpectedly detailed … even the Gin & Tonic is decidedly unique thanks to their housemade tonic.

  • The Crushed Velvet is their take on a Moscow Mule, featuring blackberry and blueberry reduction, lavender, Karlsson’s Gold vodka, and the obligatory ginger beer.  It’s just sweet enough to offset the bite of the ginger beer, making it a dangerous option.
  • The Yellow Smoke was my favorite of the night, with fresh pineapple juice, serrano agave, and xicaru mezcal.  The smokiness of the mezcal gives this somewhat simple drink a bit of exciting complexity.  I think Dallas is still timid when it comes to mezcal, and here’s hoping that this helps Dallas gain some progress in regard to this unique spirit.
  • The  (watermelon, St. Germaine, Aylesbury Duck vodka, salt & pepper) was delightfully sweet and refreshing, but could be improved.  Try this with tequila or gin instead of vodka to up the ante.
  • The Lavender Vanilla was a different take on an old fashioned with housemade vanilla bitters, lavender simple syrup, and Four Roses small batch whiskey.  I’d drink this all day every day …
  • The last cocktail that we tried was the Player’s Cut, a spirit forward cocktail that is their version of a negroni, with campari, Carpano Antica, and locally-made Brazos Texas-Style gin.  I enjoy a bitter drink, but they definitely slow me down.  I would order this again to go with my lamb bolognese!

The beer list exclusively offers craft beers and less nationals than usual — think Community Beer Co., Saint Arnold, Revolver, Real Ale, Peticolas, and many more.  They will offer 24 craft beers with the promise of rotators and seasonal options.  Check out their selection of drafts, bottles, cans, and event large format bottles for the table.  One of the random cans I’m stoked about is the Coconut Porter from the Maui Brewing Company!

Photo courtesy of Public School
Photo courtesy of Public School

I did note that their wine selection is incredibly limited with just one option of select varietals.  (Though they seem to have made good choices for the options they offer.)  Also note that some of these wines will be on tap.

The food, as I mentioned, embodies their mission to impart “an education in the art of food and beer”.  Some of the items are progressive while others are just f**king delicious.  In terms of appetizers, you pretty much can’t miss the Chorizo Mac & Cheese (hello, it is topped with sea salt and vinegar chips and has chunks of chorizo instead of the traditional ground chorizo) or the Bacon Cheddar Tots (with shredded potato instead of chopped).  To warm up, the Roasted Beet Salad is a ridiculously delicious mix of fresh and tender roasted purple and yellow beets, arugula, ricotta salata, pomegranate molasses, and marcona almonds.

The Wild Mushroom & Taleggio Pizza was delightful and ridiculously fragrant (and a great midnight snack) and the Fig & Prosciutto Pizza is a perfect balance of sweet and savory thanks to the fig glaze.  If you’re a fan of pasta, the Lamb Bolognese features whole wheat linguine and very mild ground lamb.

Now, dessert … DO NOT MISS THE NUTELLA COOKIE SANDWICH!  This is some seriously intense dessert with Nutella (duh), bacon brittle (uhhhh), cookies, and vanilla bean ice cream.  Don’t share this with more than one other person.

PS214 dessert
Pumpkin Coffee Cheesecake & Nutella Cookie Sandwich

Fun offerings to look forward to from PS214:


 

PUBLIC SCHOOL 214
www.psontap.com
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
3700 McKinney Ave (in the new West Village area east of McKinney)
(214)599-6234

Campisi’s

The Campisi name is well known in Dallas (and across the US thanks to Courtney’s work with Playboy and Corky’s reality show) and for a good reason … they make a damn good pizza.

The Downtown location’s happy hour is quite a deal: drastically discounted drinks and free pizza.  Who would turn this deal down?  We decided to take a nice walk from my friend’s place instead of desperately looking for a place to park (which I’d recommend) and it proved to be the best idea we’ve had in a while – NONE of us should have been driving after our happy hour at Campisi’s!

The wait staff was incredibly helpful and Sarah, the bartender, was good for a couple jokes and played along with our silly bar games.  Service was snappy and they made sure that we got as much pizza as wanted before it was confiscated by the kitchen.

Most of the people at happy hour were the Downtown crowd just grabbing a quick drink and a bite and the others who just finished work.  None of the happy hour goers strayed outside of their groups, but everyone was fun to watch.

Since you can’t beat this deal, take part – who knows, you may see one of the famous family members while noshing.

Drink strength: 3.5
Overall: 3.8

Campisi’s Downtown
www.campisis.us
1520 Elm St, Ste 111 | (214)752-0141

Specials:
Monday-Friday | 5-7 p.m. | $2.50 domestics, house wine, $3 wells, and all other drinks discounted, also – FREE PIZZA

Louie’s

So many people have emailed asking me to review Louie’s … but bad news: Louie’s doesn’t have drink specials, so it’s not completely in my wheelhouse.  Sorry!

Their pizza, drink strength, and people watching is great, though.

Make sure you have cash or an AMEX on you, it’s all they take.  Don’t get mushrooms on your pizza; they’re fresh, not cooked.  Also, know what you want and don’t put the wait staff out too much; they’re cranky.

Louie’s
1839 North Henderson Avenue | (214) 826-0505‎