Best of Houston
Our 2013 Best of Houston® issue has arrived, and in many cases, picking the best item in the various categories was no easy task. In order to show off all the culinary greatness Houston has to offer, we'll be rounding up the "rest of the best" in some of our favorite categories during the next several months. Bon appétit!
I don't want to make broad, sweeping statements here, but I don't think I know anyone who doesn't like pizza. As such, I'm going to go ahead and say everyone likes pizza.
Vegetarian? Pizza comes without meat. Vegan? Sure, get you some fake cheese and go to town. Gluten-free? Practically a prerequisite on pizza menus these days. Solid carnivore? Yeah, pizza's got you covered.
And though Houston isn't known for its pizza in the way New York or Chicago are, we make some damn good pies 'round these parts. From Pink's to Pi to Pizaro's, Houston is cooking up incredible pizza everywhere you look.
10. Pink's Pizza
I remember getting delivery pizza back when I was younger, and it was always Little Caesars. And it was always edible. But I grew up in Corpus Christi, and the delivery pizza options there were limited (actually, the pizza options in Corpus in general are limited, but let's not get into that right now). Had I grown up with Pink's, I feel as if my life could have gone differently. Had I been raised on a Bada Bing pizza, with its prosciutto, bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella, mushrooms, spinach and tomato slices, I might have done better in school (thanks to the fortification) and realized sooner that it was my lot in life to eat and write about food. The three types of meat and a hefty serving of veggies on a thin but sturdy crust delivered right to my door whenever I needed it could have helped me through any number of teenage crises. But the past is the past. I'm just glad I discovered Pink's in my twenties. Pink's, the Bada Bing and I have many more wonderful years together.
I'm a sucker for an egg-topped pizza, so I was surprised when I ordered the carbonara pizza at Piola and it didn't come with a sunny-side up egg in the center of it. I opened the to-go box just outside Piola's Midtown storefront, only to find what looked like a cheese pizza with a bit of prosciutto and a nice golden crisp from the open fire in the restaurant's brick oven. I took a bite, and lo and behold, it tasted like...carbonara. Traditionally, of course, carbonara is a pasta dish composed of eggs, Parmesan, pancetta and some cracked black pepper. But this pizza is carbonara you can eat with nothing but your hands! It's simple and, contrary to Piola's claims of being authentically Italian, tastes exactly like a slice of pizza you'd grab at an above-average pizza counter in New York City. Fresh, crispy, greasy, delish.
8. Pizza L'Vino
Like Pink's, Pizza L'Vino delivers. Unlike Pink's, Pizza L'Vino delivers booze. Were accessibility and availability of wine with my pizza the only criteria for this list, Pizza L'Vino would be higher. But it's not. That said, Pizza L'Vino makes a mean pie. The Greek Islander is arguably the best, because it's one of the few pizzas in town I've found with so many "premium" toppings for a reasonable price. The Greek Islander packs sautéed spinach, tomatoes, onions, roasted garlic, artichoke hearts, feta, kalamata olives and Wisconsin mozzarella, all on one round of dough topped with purportedly Greek oregano. It's like a Greek salad on a pizza, and I'm convinced that the melty mozzarella is the single component that all the Greek salads I've ever eaten in my life have been missing.
The pizzas at Boheme are not traditional in any sense of the word. They're all served on a Middle Eastern flatbread known as lavash, which is made of flour, water and salt — no yeast. It's similar to a cracker crust, which some people might pooh-pooh, but you really shouldn't until you try it. Chef Rishi Singh's inventive toppings will have you reimagining all that pizza can be. Of all the wild, Asian-inspired pizzas, though, the Dutchie is the undisputed king. It was invented after a local PR maven and friend of Boheme, Dutch Small, asked his friends what kind of toppings he'd have if he were a pizza. It turns out the answer is sriracha tomato sauce (or sass), pancetta, mozzarella, ricotta, fresh basil and a touch of Turkish Aleppo pepper flakes. Just like its namesake, it's spicy, fresh and distinctive with each bite.
6. Coppa Osteria
I've already written once about my love for Coppa Osteria's carnissima pizza. There's not much left to say except that I used to despise any version of the meat-lover's pizza. I think I had one too many bites of rubbery sausage or "hamburger topping" as a child, and that ruined it for me. Until recently. Until my tongue met the spicy pork sausage, the fat-marbled coppa, the smoky prosciutto and the creamy Parmesan drizzle that tops it all off. I honestly thought meat-lover's pizzas and I were never meant to be. Carnissima, I was so wrong. Forgive me.