Category Archives: Pizza

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
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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
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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

Coal Vines Uptown

Walking into my favorite pizza place in Dallas last week, it felt different … and I liked it.  The new menu items sound incredible and the extra seating made me hopeful that I’d never have to face another 45 minute wait for a table!

The pizza at Coal Vines is TO DIE.  My best friend from Austin orders a white pizza (not the white special) to take back with her each time she visits.  Yes, it’s that delicious.

The mimosa was just ok; they didn’t jump on the bottomless bandwagon as so many brunch destinations have so I don’t know if I’d come here just for their drink specials.  Their wine selection is good and they also sell  retail if you want to take it home to enjoy.

The people who dine at this establishment are the Uptown see-and-be-seen type.  They stop here and gobble a pie and guzzle a bottle before hitting the town.  The only problem with that is that every time I eat here, I leave so full that I can’t rally for a fun night out!

Stop in and grab a glass of wine and a pizza; don’t forget to be extra nice to their New York implant, Uncle John at the front door!  Everyone in Dallas should try this place once to know what good pizza tastes like.

Coal Vines Pizza
2404 Cedar Springs Rd | Dallas, TX 75201
(214)855-4999‎
www.coalvines.com

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

Taverna

The Lombardis know how to do brunch. $1 mimosas and bellinis can’t miss – but the food at Taverna makes the brunch that much better.

When I arrived, I was waiting on the rest of my 6-person party that was in from Pittsburgh. The waiter showed me to my table and entertained me until they showed … with one extra. “NO PROBLEM!” Another seat appeared without much drama. Five minutes later, another surprise guest. “NO PROBLEM!” Another seat appeared and all that was missing was a water.

As I mentioned, the food was great. The crab eggs benedict were (according to one of my dining companions), “The best I’ve ever had west of Pittsburgh!” There’s a compliment if I’ve ever heard one. I had the breakfast calzone and it was great, but make sure you split it because it’s HUGE.

The drinks, superb and quickly replenished … though I would say a big of creme de cassis would have made them a bit better. Pay attention to the small print; the drinks are only $1 if you get an entree.

Taverna was a great place for brunch – as all the Lombardi restaurants are!


Taverna

www.tavernabylombardi.com
3210 Armstrong Ave | Dallas, TX 75205-4131
(214) 520-9933
You can visit a Taverna in Dallas, Fort Worth, and Austin.

Specials:
Saturday and Sunday | 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. | $1 bellinis or mimosas with purchase of an entree