The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Pizza Places
For the next 20 weeks, we'll be rounding up the runners-up to our 2011 Best of Houston® winners. In many categories, picking each year's winner is no easy task. We'll be spotlighting 20 of those categories, in which the winner had hefty competition from other Houston bars and restaurants.
Note: Many entries are excerpted from previous Best of Houston® entries, as many previous award winners have maintained the same standards of quality that garnered them awards in the first place. Go pizza.
10. Coppa Ristorante Italiano
Photo by Mai Pham
Coppa has been drawing rave reviews for its thin crust pizzas, including the clever ham and eggs pizza above. Each slice contains dusky slices of coppa -- its signature cured pork product -- and a perfectly poached quail egg that douses the pizza with its buttery yolk when punctured. The pizzas are a little pricey, so those on a budget will do well to visit during the daily happy hour that runs until 7 p.m. Pizzas like the the traditional margherita or the fingerling potato with melted leeks and truffle vinaigrette are only $5 at the bar.
If you find yourself craving a plain, old-fashioned cheese pie, it's time to go to Antonio's Flying Pizza. Antonio Rosa really throws his crusts. Normally, he caters to Houstonians, loading the pies with too much cheese and too much meat. But if you are smart enough to ask for an "extra crispy, light cheese" pizza with just a little garlic or peppers, you will get a sensational pie that will remind you of the ones served at little red-checkered tablecloth joints on the East Coast. The sausage-and-pepper sandwiches, spaghetti and meatballs, and calzones taste a lot like the East Coast versions, too. That's because Sicilian-born Antonio Rosa is a veteran of the East Coast Italian-American circuit. He owned a pizzeria in Fairfield, Connecticut, and another in Morristown, New Jersey, before moving to Houston and starting Antonio's Flying Pizza in 1971.
At the original Russo's near the intersection of the Northwest Freeway and Highway 6, Anthony Russo re-created the old-fashioned coal-fired pizzeria experience in a suburban strip center. But the superhot oven is only part of what Russo does right. You don't get a pizza crust with this kind of fabulous texture unless you can turn out a high-rising yeasty dough every day. And the only way to keep such a great pizza from getting gloppy is to teach every apprentice pizza maker in the place that you aren't doing your customers any favors when you pile too many toppings on the pie. And then there's the quality of the toppings themselves. Russo's has proven itself since opening that first little pizza joint and now has locations all over the city.