Pizza Is Good, Calzones Are Better at La Fresca Pizza

Chicken, Mushroom, and Spinach Calzone
Chicken, Mushroom, and Spinach Calzone
Photo by Joanna O'Leary

There is a paucity of restaurants in Houston that serve calzones and even fewer establishments offer versions that match the quality of those found in Italian-American hubs along the east coast.

La Fresca Pizza is among these few, these happy few, and they have two locations. So, give thanks if you have been craving calzones over-stuffed with lots of cheese and any number of toppings.

People who describe the calzone as simply an "inside-out pizza," or worse, a "pizza pocket" (which conjures horrific images of hot pockets) do this dish a gross disservice. The calzone, whose origins can be traced to Puglia, Italy, is made from thicker, saltier dough than that found in a typical pizza that is folded over in semi-circle fashion to enclose a filling of cheese, meats (chicken, pepperoni, Italian cold cuts are popular) and vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, spinach, etc. Note: Tomatoes are usually not included among this "etc." interior toppings because calzones are traditionally served with a side of marinara for dipping.

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La Fresca violates this rule with its veggie calzone, which contains mushrooms, black olives, green peppers, red onions, and diced tomatoes, but it still works despite the tomato tautology. At the other end of the spectrum is the meat calzone stuffed with pepperoni, ham, and sausage. The build-your-own option allows for a balance between flavors, and one particularly winning combination is the tender white meat chicken with sauteed mushrooms and spinach. The flavor of the vegetables gets a boost from the salt and cream of the provolone and mozzarella cheeses and the chicken adds pleasant textural variance.

La Fresca bakes all its calzones as to produce a brown, crackly exterior that belies a soft, doughy layer underneath. If you like a really crispy "crust," pop the calzone in your home oven at 350 for an additional 10 minutes.

After an admittedly limited testing of La Fresca's pizza menu, which includes "classic" (supreme, Hawaiian, veggie) as well as "gourmet" (chicken bbq, pesto, chicken, Greek) pizzas, we concluded its pizza is good, especially the "margarita" [sic], but the calzones reign supreme.

For a limited time, you decide for yourself with the help of this groupon.

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