Rest of the Best 2013: Houston's Top Ten Pizzas

provisionspizza.JPG
Photo by James Brock
The kale and sausage pizza at Provisions is unusual but provocative.
3. Provisions
In my pizza memory, Grimaldi's in Brooklyn holds a cherished place. But I recently had a pie at Provisions that easily deserves a spot on my pizza love list. It's the Tuscan kale, spicy pork sausage, ricotta and fontina pie, and I liked it so much that I have ordered it twice since then. To begin, the crust is perfect. Quick cooking in a hot wood-fired oven makes it crisp, and the dough's ingredients impart a slightly sourdough-y taste that I like. (Too often, as with hamburgers and inferior buns, restaurants neglect their pizza dough, and the best toppings cannot make up for shoddy dough.) The kale is prepared carefully -- I envision a searing in the pan with garlic before it is put on the uncooked pizza -- and the house-made pork has the proper amount of fattiness and spice. Creamy, mild ricotta and sharp fontina (the Italian kind -- don't waste your time with Swiss fontina) combine to create a sauce that will make you shake your head in appreciation. And look forward to your next trip to Taft Street.

solariopizz.JPG
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
You can't see it, but the smoky prosciutto and pecorino are buried just beneath the fresh arugula on the Parma 600 from Pizzeria Solario.
2. Pizzeria Solario
At this point in the round-up, I absolutely must mention crust. So often as a child, I ate my pizza with the toppings, then tossed the crust aside as if it was no longer worthy of my palate as soon as it was devoid of cheese and sauce. I have since learned that it's the crust that makes the pizza. I personally believe that the best pizzas come from an incredibly hot oven powered by burning wood. Gas fire is all well and good, and coal fire is wonderful but rare. The heat from a wood fire gives pizza crust a perfect char and slightly smoky flavor that cannot be achieved through any other means. At Solario, the pizza makers scoop up a pie on the wooden peel seconds before it's finished cooking and hold it up to the top of the domed oven, where the temperature and smoke are concentrated to provide an ideal crispy finish. For a prime example of this technique in action, order the Parma 600 pizza with white garlic crema sauce, fior di latte cheese, pecorino and prosciutto di Parma 600 (a.k.a. extra-special prosciutto). The final crisping brings out the richest flavors in the Italian meat and cheese, and then the pie is removed and quickly topped with fresh arugula and a touch of truffle oil. I like to think that the lifting of this pizza at the end of the baking adds a little bit of heaven to the toppings. It certainly tastes like it.

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Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
Dolce Vita knows that there is no combination of pizza flavors quite as dreamy as pear and taleggio cheese.
1. Dolce Vita
There's this small restaurant in Florence called Trattoria 4 Leoni that I go to every time I'm fortunate enough to find myself within the historic Italian city. And every time I'm at 4 Leoni, I order the same thing: fiocchetti pasta stuffed with pear and taleggio. Here in Houston, Dolce Vita makes a pizza -- the pear and taleggio, drizzled with truffle oil -- that takes me back to Florence. It's acidic but sweet, earthy but crisp, funky but mellow. The pies have traditional Neapolitan-style crusts and a thin but fluffy body. They're crispy on the outside but still doughy and chewy on the inside. If there is such a thing -- among all of the thousands and thousands of iterations -- as the perfect pizza, I'd swear this is it.


Location Info

Pink's Pizza

1403 Heights Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Piola

3201 Louisiana St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pizza L'Vino

544 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Boheme Cafe & Wine Bar

307 Fairview, Houston, TX

Category: Music

Pi Pizza Truck

, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Coppa Osteria

5210 Morningside Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Pizaro's Pizza Napoletana

14028 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

Dolce Vita Pizzeria & Enoteca

500 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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64 comments
raiders6408
raiders6408

Holy crap! That Taleggio pizza was the worst thing I ever smelled and it made my whole car/house stink. I realized what it was after I had a flash back to Gordon Ramsey saying " never use black truffle oil, it covers all the flavors and it doesn't even come from black truffles" the whole pizza was drenched in black truffle oil. Please don't order this pizza with the truffle oil. The Calamari wasn't anything special either. I don't recommend those. The mushrooms come with this meat looking spread, it's good for dipping your crust in. Overall I was extremely unimpressed with the price and quality of the food at Dolce Vita. How could this be #1 on the list? Certainly not for its food, must be because the small dim lit environment.

fellowfoodie
fellowfoodie

Kaitlin - Three quick things.  First of all, thank you for putting this list together.  It has definitely given my wife and I some ideas for different places to try pizza other than our usual standbys.  Second, I am not second guessing you at all, but have you been to Romano's on West Gray?  Back in the 1970's and early 80's, I tossed pizza at a place across the street from Rockaway's Playland in Queens, NY.  Romano's seems to be the closest to authentic NY pizza in Houston (with Franks on Travis coming in a close second).  Lastly, making a list of the "best" of anything, but especially pizza, is a frustrating endeavor at best.   Some folk like lots of toppings, some don't.  Some like traditional toppings, some prefer unusual ones.  Some folks define a pizza by its crust while others don't care about it much.  Some folks like thick chewy crust.  Others are thin and crispy folks.  The variety of types of pizza available in Houston makes only one thing certain.  No matter who you put on (or leave off) of your list, some folks are bound to disagree.    

FRL713
FRL713

Kenneally's is pretty solid as well, although pizza always tastes better in a bar.  Ciao Bello's excellent thin pizzas are specially priced on Sundays BTW.

Stephanie Ann Smith
Stephanie Ann Smith

Your opinion is your opinion some of us like Pink's and if you don't that's fine but it's NOT CRAP!!!!!!!!

justthefacts
justthefacts

Try Nick's Italian Sports bar for some mighty fine pizza.  This is a sports bar on Rocky Ridge just off Westheimer east of Gessner just behind Burger King.  I highly recommend the double bacon cheeseburger pizza and they have more traditional pizzas, as well. 

cinemanoct
cinemanoct

Another thing. We, as a society, need to have a discussion wether "flatbread pizza" is actually pizza. I believe they are unfolded sandwiches.

major_delmac
major_delmac

I love how the captions dont tell you the name of the pizza place and all the photos just blend together.

major_delmac
major_delmac

I love how the captions dont tell you the name of the pizza place and all the photos just blend together.

grandiose
grandiose

• agree, Fuzzy's is overlooked as well as Antonio's

• will probably get slapped for this, but if you order correctly, Collina's can be great

cinemanoct
cinemanoct

Not putting Star and/or Brother's in this list is like not putting The Galleria on a top Houston Malls list. Makes this list invalid.

Tofu Alienn
Tofu Alienn

I want to try the no. 1 spot you mention in your post, Dolce Vita. Pizza is one of my favorite things to eat, especially with a yummy cold, rich, dark beer. Thanks so much for writing this article!

Tofu Alienn
Tofu Alienn

oh I also love Star Pizza Houston, of course haha

Tofu Alienn
Tofu Alienn

Original Napoli Restaurants by Papa Zack -they have a fb page and Russo's Gourmet Pizza. ^_^

Anse
Anse

People who live outside the Loop need to shut up already. My gawd. We all know you exist. We have to navigate 30 miles of strip malls and "Are you sure you know who the daddy is?" billboards from any direction to get back to town whenever we leave. 

It's called the Houston Press, so naturally, they write a lot about...Houston.

O'Rourke Chris
O'Rourke Chris

I have not found a favorite as of yet, but now maybe I will.

robertwschroeder
robertwschroeder

Ah yes...of course, there is no world outside of the loop. You would think with all the changes to this town over the years, the Press would have gotten over that snobby inner loop thing by now. If you want to truly be a great reviewer you need to learn how to get out of your comfort zone. It's a big world out there...try crossing 610 and see what it's like.

cgera713
cgera713

What is this?  It seems more like a list of the trendiest places to be seen eating pizza.  Some interesting places on the list anyhow.


pastamom
pastamom

George's  Pastaria.  Their Westside pizza is hot!!

erichenao
erichenao topcommenter

What I like here is that you have selected some great places, but you've also highlighted some different types of pizza that most wouldn't order. Cause you know most people just order the pepperoni, cheese or margarita (if they are feeling fancy). Thanks for this! You're doing fine as a reviewer…Houston is a big city and the commenters are brutal. Keep at it!

jeeterbug
jeeterbug

you should have asked for tips on places  from fellow EOW blogger Christine U!  I agree, no brothers?  no fuzzys?  no star?  i don't know why I expected more.  anyhow, this new Yorker digresses. :/

SirRon
SirRon

You ITL snobs always overlook the Mexican Pizza at Taco Bell.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@major_delmac That was a great point. We went in and added the names of the pizza places in the captions. Sorry if it was confusing before!

RedIsNotADrink
RedIsNotADrink

@robertwschroeder If you look down the comments I said the same thing regarding the section of the city. She was kind enough to respond and seems like she did her homework. 

Glenda32
Glenda32

@robertwschroeder 

Robert....ah yes, of course....the assassin who sits back and criticizes and then offers no recommendations. 

So help us, help me, I've just moved to far west Houston, but I can drive anywhere you suggest has great pies.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@pastamom That wasn't on my radar as a great pizza place, but I'll definitely have to check it out!

bodl
bodl

I know all about Brother's, Fuzzy's, and Star. I appreciate this list because it points out a few places I need to try. I don't agree with all the selections, which is great. If I agreed with all the selections, I wouldn't be learning anything.

Thanks, KS!

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@SirRon Better yet the cheap-o totinos mexican pizza with taco bell hot sauce.. Delish bachelor chow..

RedIsNotADrink
RedIsNotADrink

@SirRon Wow Kaitlin you missed some of the greats... how about Chucky Cheese's, Cici's,  Pizza Hut?? (actually their Wing Street menu is pretty good) lol

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@SirRon That's going on my next top ten list along with Whataburger fries and Taco C queso. 

Actually, I really want to write that list.

robertwschroeder
robertwschroeder

@Glenda32 @robertwschroeder Believe me, I'm no hater. If you're new to Houston then you may not know about the whole "inner loop" thing. There are people who truly believe that in a city the size of Houston, there is nothing beyond the loop. I'm not a "burbs" guy either, but I believe there are great restaurants all over this city.

Here are my two suggestions: 

Fuzzy's. If you're from the midwest, like myself, then you can appreciate a nice thick-crust style pizza. There is no better than Fuzzy's (in my opinion). There are a few around town, but I go to the one on Antoine.

My other choice is Antonio's Flying Pizza (off of Hilcroft/Voss & Westheimer). It's been around forever and is so legit, I half expect to see a couple dogs sharing a romantic candlelight dinner in the back. If you go when it's busy the guys will put on a nice show for the kids throwing the dough back and forth as well. Also...try the meatball sandwich. It may be one of my favorite sandwiches in the world.

gossamersixteen
gossamersixteen topcommenter

@Glenda32 @robertwschroeder Recommendation: Go back in time to when Marios pizza on Galveston Island was still owned by the original family that opened it. Heavenly memories of the best pizza ever and space invaders..

jeeterbug
jeeterbug

I've learned something too...pizza in tx is crap! (w the exception of what I listed). but again, i'd probably appreciate this list if I weren't from ny.

Glenda32
Glenda32

@robertwschroeder @Glenda32 

Yeah, I've been to both and like them, and they're not far outside the loop (actually within the loop if you're talking beltway 8). Fuzzy's brothers are Lebanese from Chicago, my hometown, and Antoine seems the best location to me too. Antonio's was good and satisfying, and an interesting old world joint that seems from yesteryear. Good calls.

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