DEFCON Dining: Brother's Pizzeria

Categories: DEFCON Dining

Bianca at Brother's.jpg
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
What lies beneath?
Dinner that night did not get off to an auspicious start. My wife had called me while I was on my way home from work, telling me that I was to drive out to Westheimer and the Beltway, to meet her and the kids for dinner with her sister. This did not make me happy. About 15 minutes later, as I was fighting Galleria traffic, she called me back with a new plan; we were to meet up with a different sister at a park near our house, then caravan to a pizza joint on the northern edge of the Heights. By the time I met up with them, I felt like a yo-yo. A very frazzled yo-yo.

Of course, it's easy to have your mood changed when your youngest, upon seeing you get out of the car at the park, shouts "Daddy! Watch this!" and flings herself headlong at the monkey-bars, her erstwhile nemesis, finally conquering the twisted steel beast. Basking in the glow of her accomplishment, I scooped her into the car, along with my other daughter and wife, and we were off. Three cars - two sisters-in-law, one mother-in-law, one under-two niece, and my crew - headed to the newest, not quite ITL location of Brother's Pizzeria.

Brother's has long been a favorite of my pizza-addicted sister-in-law, and she was excited to be taking us to this new, somewhat closer outpost of the NY slice shop style stalwart. I'd only been to the original location on Highway 6 once, but had reasonably fond memories. My sister-in-law swears Brother's is superior to several of my own favorites, including the wood-oven pies at Dolce Vita, so she is not entirely to be trusted.

Trouble arose as soon as we announced our destination to the kids, who were chatting excitedly in the backseat about dinner with their aunts and baby cousin. "Peeeeetzuuuhhh!" whined our youngest, drawing out the vowel sounds into a nasally harbinger of impending meltdown. "I hate pizza." For the record, I have no idea how that happened. She stands as one of only two children I've ever met who don't count pizza as one of their favorite foods. We assured her, fingers crossed, that there would be other options aside from the dreaded pizza, and she was pacified, though a bit circumspect.

We arrived and debated orders, the group having ignored my sage advice of figuring that out beforehand. My wife caused a minor stir when she ordered an off-menu Pizza Bianca, or white pizza. She remembered having one - topped only with fresh and fantastic mozzarella, garlic, and olive oil - at Grimaldi's in Brooklyn a few years back. The proprietor was taken aback for a minute, surprised that she knew of the pie's existence. "We only make those for ourselves, usually," he explained, before agreeing to make her their bianca, blanketed in mozz and ricotta cheeses, for her.

As soon as her pie hit the table, I knew we were going to have issues. The ricotta, slathered directly on top of the crust, had given up a considerable amount of liquid while cooking. On top, the mozzarella had divested itself of its milkfat, buttery grease pooling on top of the pie. As I pulled a slice free, the two liquid phases cascaded onto the pan below, semi-emulsifying into a milky-white, yellow-tinged ocean that quickly spread to the other slices, further softening their already flaccid crusts.

In order to eat, and love, NY style pie, you have to be okay with a less than crisp crust. The same can be said of NY pie's Neapolitan cousin. However, the best of both of those species make up for the textural failings of their substrate by having impeccable embellishments on top. I can forgive a soggy crust if it means top-shelf, freshly made mozzarella. That's not what this was. Besides, the crust wasn't just softened, it was wet.

The whole table agreed that the bianca was an inferior pie, my sister in law's simpler order of a standard pie with a scattering of bell pepper showing the pizza in much better light. The crust retained some crispness to offset its general chew; the sauce was clean and bright, and the peppers added sweet and vegetal notes, with slightly charred edges.

Brother's Pasta.jpg
Photo by Nicholas L. Hall
Despite they gray meatballs (their fault) and the terrible white balance (my fault), the kid liked her pasta.
My elder daughter declared that her slice of cheese was superior to all of the above, polishing it off and chasing it with a slice of each of the other pies, then using her stray crusts to swipe the sauce from her sister's spaghetti plate. That's right, we did find a pizza alternative for the little one, and she approved of her overcooked noodles and simple, tasty tomato sauce. She left her gray, spongy meatballs discarded to the side, and I can't say that I blame her.

Despite the lackluster performance of our in-crowd pizza selection, we all had a good time. The staff was as affable as could be, probably eager to form some connections and earn some regulars in their new neighborhood. The kids were kept occupied with a supply of well sharpened colored pencils and paper plates, then encouraged to affix their creations to the wall of the restaurant, and take their place in history. That's where our only trouble began.

As we were leaving, the older one decided she just had to keep her decorated plate, because what does every eight year old girl want on her wall, aside from a paper plate decorated with pizza joint exaltations, right? I lobbied heavily against this, as I knew full well that those plates would likely not make it in from the floor of the car or, if they did, would simply add to the growing pile of art projects threatening to topple from their desk. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids' handiwork, I just don't have room for all of it. They're more prolific than Picasso.

I lost, and we traipsed toward the car, plates in tow. Then, in a moment of surprisingly cooperative behavior, the younger one declared that she would hang hers. She ran back inside, proudly taping her plate next to the cash register, and ran back, grinning from ear to ear. That all would have been well and good, had her sister not offered the wisdom of her increased years, detailing all the reasons she should have kept her plate. We were buckled in and ready to go, at this point. That didn't last.

Back inside, I made her ask for her plate back, and she emerged, triumphant. They made it in from the car last night, too, if for no other reason than the chance to prove their dad wrong. I think I'll have the things framed.



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Location Info

Brother's Pizzeria

3820 N. Shepherd Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant


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22 comments
Kathy
Kathy

Dear Nicholas,

After sleeping on the issue, I realize I might have come across a little excessively. I do believe that you and I have very different opinions about the food that night, but that does not mean that you "used" us to write a review. I do not think that you had some plan of writing an unfavorable review before you went in...I was just super surprised to hear about this article, seeing as how I didn't know it was going to be or had been written. My feelings were hurt and I was embarrassed.

What I should have written is something along these lines: Geez Nick, it would have been nice for me to know that you were going to write an article about our night at Brothers. I wouldn't be caught dead with a food reviewer at my favorite local pizza joint if I could help it! As for your opinion on the pizza, all I have to say is Brother's Pizzeria Rocks!

Sorry if my initial post was over-the-top and/or accusatory...I was stating my opinion, and from an emotional perspective. I do love Brother's Pizzeria. I just got caught in the middle of something I didn't want to be in and didn't know that I was in!!!!

Kathy

Kathy
Kathy

Dear Nicholas,

After sleeping on the issue, I realize I might have come across a little excessively. I do believe that you and I have very different opinions about the food that night, but that does not mean that you "used" us to write a review. I do not think that you had some plan of writing an unfavorable review before you went in...I was just super surprised to hear about this article, seeing as how I didn't know it was going to be or had been written. My feelings were hurt and I was embarrassed.

What I should have written is something along these lines: Geez Nick, it would have been nice for me to know that you were going to write an article about our night at Brothers. I wouldn't be caught dead with a food reviewer at my favorite local pizza joint if I could help it! As for your opinion on the pizza, all I have to say is Brother's Pizzeria Rocks!

Sorry if my initial post was over-the-top and/or accusatory...I was stating my opinion, and from an emotional perspective. I do love Brother's Pizzeria. I just got caught in the middle of something I didn't want to be in and didn't know that I was in!!!!

Kathy

Kathy
Kathy

Dear Nicholas,

After sleeping on the issue, I realize I might have come across a little excessively. I do believe that you and I have very different opinions about the food that night, but that does not mean that you "used" us to write a review. I do not think that you had some plan of writing an unfavorable review before you went in...I was just super surprised to hear about this article, seeing as how I didn't know it was going to be or had been written. My feelings were hurt and I was embarrassed.

What I should have written is something along these lines: Geez Nick, it would have been nice for me to know that you were going to write an article about our night at Brothers. I wouldn't be caught dead with a food reviewer at my favorite local pizza joint if I could help it! As for your opinion on the pizza, all I have to say is Brother's Pizzeria Rocks!

Sorry if my initial post was over-the-top and/or accusatory...I was stating my opinion, and from an emotional perspective. I do love Brother's Pizzeria. I just got caught in the middle of something I didn't want to be in and didn't know that I was in!!!!

Kathy

Kathy
Kathy

My apologies, Brother's Pizzeria. My brother-in-law, Nicholas, can be somewhat presumptuous. We invited them to eat out at our FAVORITE pizza place to let the kids play together and to enjoy some amazing pizza. Was the pizza that we ordered amazing??? YES. My brother in law ordered an OFF THE MENU pizza, and then decides to bash it. I prefer red sauce on my pizza, that is the only reason I didn't go nuts about the white pizza....but the crust was NOT soggy. I don't remember anyone complaining about the crust. AND, if the meatballs were "spongy" and "gray", why did you eat them Nick???? Seriously, I don't think it is cool when you bash my favorite pizza place...but hey, you have freedom of speech. But what is even less cool, is that you USED us to get in some pseudo-review under DEFCON and didn't even tell us. How embarrassing for us. We are regulars at Brothers, and now I am associated with someone who couldn't appreciate an amazing staff or an amazing pizza. You just had to go and write an article. Ugh......SO SORRY Brother's Pizzeria. We love you so much!!! You are the best pizza by far!!!!!!!

Kathy(unsuspecting sister-in-law and Brother's Pizzeria fan forever!!!!!!)

Kelli
Kelli

Just a clarification, the original Brother's Pizza started in West Oaks Mall, not Greenspoint.  They then opened the Highway 6/I-10 location due to the volume of customers at West Oaks.  They did have a second location near Willowbrook but I believe it has since closed.  I ate at the new location in Garden Oaks last week and found the quality to be top notch as always.  Especially because the gentleman running it has been with Brother's as long as I can remember.  Nothing about the ingredients or sauce was changed, according to him it's still the same great stuff.  And I can tell you the taste was superb. 

:(
:(

defcon dining is not a good name for a family dining post.. the name means nothing... brothers itl hasnt worked out the issues yet... but its still light years better than pink's

Jbo002
Jbo002

I remember the Highway 6 locationg being in West Oaks Mall

Jessica
Jessica

Where is the ITL Brothers located?  Can you post the address please???

Taghi594
Taghi594

Brothers on cypresswood and 45... Hands down best ny style pizza in town. Amazing how so many places can get it wrong while this one has been getting it consistently right as long as I can remember.

Off Beet
Off Beet

I remember the first Brothers pizza being at the food court in Greenspoint mall back in the 80's. At that time it was the best pizza in Houston.  I will have to try the new location.

rgwalt
rgwalt

New brother's is open!  Yeah!!!  No more driving myself out to I-10 and Hwy 6 for good pizza!

Emily
Emily

Did you go to the new location in Garden Oaks? The article links to one off Highway 6...

Brad Thompson
Brad Thompson

Brothers! Siren Song of the west side. Nothing in this review surprised me, but I still love that place and their pies beyond reason. Have to try the new location now.

Jeeterbug
Jeeterbug

i wouldn't hold too much opinion on this review, when you order something not on the menu, & then order pasta at a pizzeria.  i learned more about the writer's dining habits and family than i did about the pizza.  i've been to this location 3 times in the 3 wks it's been open & i've found it to be some of the best pizza in houston.  the staff has been oustanding on all 3 visits, great for dine in and great over the phone for pickups.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

That's not entirely true: http://blogs.houstonpress.com/...

However, it only has meaning if you have been following along, I suppose. As this is not the first time the title/concept has been received with some confusion, I'll create a brief introductory paragraph to top each post, explaining the origin of the name and the intent of the column. How's that sound?

Justin S. Davis
Justin S. Davis

The original oven from the Greenspoint locale is in use at the Cypress location.

Best pizza in town.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I did. I don't believe there is yet a linkable location for the Garden Oaks spot.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

That's probably a fair assessment. Then again, DEFCON Dining is not necessarily intended to be a series of restaurant reviews, but a running commentary on the nature of dining out with children.

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