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A Meal at Pizzeria Solario Can Be Hit or Miss, But the Hits Are Great

You'll feel like you're playing a game of pizza roulette.

Want a behind the scenes look at Pizzeria Solario? Get a closer look in this slideshow.

Throughout my meal, this weird little poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow kept running through my head:

There was a little girl,

Pizza Solario's Parma 600 is a quality pie.
Troy Fields
Pizza Solario's Parma 600 is a quality pie.

Location Info

Map

Pizzeria Solario

3333 Weslayan, 100
Houston, TX 77027

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Greenway Plaza

Details

Hours: Sunday and Monday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Rocket salad: $4.50/$8
Caesar salad: $4.50/$8
Orecchiette and cheese: $8
Polpette: $9
Sausage pizza 12" (lunch): $14
Margherita pizza 12": $12
Calabrian pizza 12": $16
Tartufo pizza 12": $19
Parma 600 pizza 12": $19



For more on Pizzeria Solario:

Slideshow: A Closer Look at Pizzeria Solario
Blog: Vera Pizza Napoletana-ish Pies at Pizzeria Solario


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Who had a little curl,

Right in the middle of her forehead

When she was good,

She was very good indeed,

But when she was bad she was horrid.

According to Longfellow's son, the poet composed the lines while holding his wailing infant daughter, but it's the final three lines of the poem, rather than the part about the little girl, that seemed so appropriate when I first reveled in the pizza topped with prosciutto aged for more than 600 days in a cellar in Italy; soft, creamy fior di latte mozzarella; and fresh, peppery arugula. When it was good, it was very good indeed.

But then came the orecchiette — little ears of overcooked pasta nearly drowning in a watery sauce of whipped egg yolks and cheese — a gummy, flavorless mess of starch and dairy reminiscent of a just-add-water powdered cheese sauce, only somehow less appetizing. When it was bad, it was horrid.

Every meal I had at Pizzeria Solario seemed to follow this pattern of one outstanding dish marred by a multitude of other, far less impressive offerings. Generally, it was the pizzas that excited me, with their Neapolitan-style thin crusts, scorched on the bottom from the heat of the oven but still possessing the distinct and pleasurably doughy chew that I seek out in a quality pie.

One of the best here is the Parma 600, featuring a white garlic crema sauce (instead of the traditional red sauce), mild fior di latte and strong pecorino cheeses, gamey prosciutto di parma, a touch of funky truffle oil and bright arugula placed on top after baking so it is only lightly wilted. The mixture of fresh greens and truffle oil with the concentrated, meaty aroma of the aged prosciutto dances a ballet across the palate as one flavor gives way to another. By the time most of a slice is consumed, you're left with just the crust, but the crust at Solario is not one you cast aside in favor of a more interesting, topping-covered bite. With its bubbled, crispy pockets of toothsome dough, it's good enough to eat all on its own.

Of course, no sooner had I finished telling my dining partner about the wonder that is Solario's pizza than the waiter set before him a bowl of something mostly white and mushy-looking. We figured, by process of elimination, that this was the orecchiette and cheese, though it looked nothing like the mac-and-cheese-type dish we'd been picturing. And then came the arugula salad, a mound of wilted, spindly arugula full of stems doused in far too much vinaigrette and containing at most a single teaspoon of goat cheese, crumbled and strewn haphazardly throughout the greens.

"This is one of the best pizza places in Houston?" my friend asked.

I turned toward the pizza oven and stared at it, willing the fiery furnace to produce something magical to redeem my now-questionable taste. It only half delivered.
_____________________

Part of the issue with Pizzeria Solario seems to be that it still hasn't quite gotten its act together in the nearly nine months since it opened, in spite of the fact that it's got a lot going for it. It's one of only a few Houston pizzerias that prepare Neapolitan pizza with the requisite ingredients and manner of cooking known as vera pizza Napoletana (the others being Pizaro's and The Tasting Room at CityCentre, though none is officially certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana). It has the proper elements made fresh every day, from the fior di latte mozzarella to the zesty red sauce and supple crust. It has the cute, modern space with high ceilings and the welcoming outdoor patio in Upper Kirby. In theory, it's all there.

But in execution, Solario falls short. It took me three attempts to finally get the server to bring me more water on one occasion, on an evening when the place was nearly empty. We also had to ask for plates that were clearly finished to be taken away to make room for more food. Those fast-firing pizzas that should take no more than five minutes to cook in the super-hot, wood-burning oven left us waiting for more than 20 minutes on that same slow night, and during that time no one came by to offer an explanation as to why there was such a lag between the appetizers and the main course. Messing up and needing to redo a pizza is fine, and I appreciate the effort. Having to wait for oven space is also understandable (though, again, the restaurant was far from full on that evening). However, eyeing a table from across the room and not stopping by to ask if perhaps a diner needs another drink is just odd.

It really wouldn't be an issue, though, if all the pizzas were worth the bewildering wait. I'd sit idly for an hour for another 12-inch Parma 600 or a Calabrian pie (with gorgonzola and Calabrian peppers). Waiting as long as I did for the Tartufo or Margherita pizzas seemed a bit of a letdown, though.

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4 comments
rgwalt
rgwalt

So, would you recommend Dolce Vita or Pizzaro's over this new comer?

Mells
Mells

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana = hahahaha. You don't need to be certified to make an authentic Italian style pizza.  Napolitani are smart (FURBI in Italian, which translates to cunning) to brand their pizza for people who believe certification = good pizza.

mehtaZ
mehtaZ

@Mells 

Agree! 

(and you know the etymology of cunning of course, right?)

 
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