100 Favorite Dishes 2014-15: No. 78, The Outdoorsman at Pi Pizza Truck
Once again, Kaitlin Steinberg is eating her way through Houston and counting down her 100 favorite dishes as we work our way toward our annual Menu of Menus® issue and culinary extravaganza. She'll compile a collection of the dishes she thinks are the most delicious, most creative and, of course, most indicative of our ever-changing food scene. It's a list of personal favorites, things she thinks any visitor or Houstonian ought to try at least once and dishes that are uniquely Houstonian.
Photo by Barbra Riley Venison and cherries together make for the perfect bite.
While I am, in many ways, a burger purist, that attitude in no way applies to my pizza. With pizza, I consider the dough and cheese my canvas, and the more outrageous ingredients I can pile on top, the better.
That's why I'm always excited to see what Anthony Calleo at Pi Pizza Truck is dreaming up. There's the 420 slice (yes, that 420) topped with Frito pie and barbecue sauce. There's the Drunken Peach with peaches and blueberries soaked in whiskey as well as habañeros and goat cheese. There's the Herbivoracias with arugala, almonds, lemon zest, roasted garlic and a drizzle of chili oil.
And then there's my favorite: The Outdoorsman.
It's a deceptively simple slice featuring tomato sauce, mozzarella, venison sausage and cherries soaked in port wine sauce. That's it. Compared to many of Pi Pizza Truck's creations, it sounds boring, but it's definitely not.
The rich, gamey venison sausage needs that bite of cherry acid to mellow it out, and even the tomato sauce and mozz somehow still blend perfectly with the more gourmet toppings. The port is mild, but ever present, adding an unusual dimension to the usual meat, cheese, tomato sauce dynamic. Then, of course, there's Pi Pizza's perfect thin crust -- slightly chewy, slightly crispy and not something you toss aside once you finish the toppings.
I could probably eat the cherries by themselves, right out of a jar, then drink the remaining cherry-flavored port, but I actually prefer the combo in pizza form. Fruit on a pizzas has always fascinated me, and this is one of the best examples in town of fruit and pizza in perfect harmony.
Chef and owner Calleo says that The Outdoorsman is probably the pizza he's most proud of, and when he eventually opens his own pizza restaurant, it's safe to assume the popular pie will be on the menu.
The list so far:
No. 79, Campechana de Mariscos at Goode Co. Seafood
No. 80, Whole Fried Fish at Churrascos
No. 81, Daughter-in-Law Burger at Natachee's Supper 'n Punch
No. 82, Chiles en Nogada Tradicionales at Pico's Mex-Mex
No. 83, Porkobuco at Brooklyn Athletic Club
No. 84, Chai Pie at Pondicheri
No. 85, Tacos at Taqueria Maya Quiché
No. 86, S'mores at 13 Celsius
No. 87, Calamari at Lillo & Ella
No. 88, Pulled Pork Nachos at Way Good Food Truck
No. 89, Garden Sammie at Local Foods
No. 90, Barbecued Salmon Salad at Brooks Family BBQ
No. 91, Smoked Salmon Waffle at The Waffle Bus
No. 92, Chirashi Lunch at Sushi Miyagi
No. 93, Finocchiona Sandwich at Siphon Coffee
No. 94, Combo Catracho at Mi Bella Honduras Restaurant
No. 95, Tamal de Puerco at Andes Cafe
No. 96, Cheeseburger at Sparkle's Hamburger Spot
No. 97, Mi Quang at Simply Pho
No. 98, Helado de Lúcuma at Pollo Bravo
No. 99, Fat Fries at Fat Bao
No. 100, Fish Bánh Mì at La Baguette