"Why don't you just get the pizza delivered?" my son asked, "Is this about not being lazy?" I assured him that pizza delivery was merely a convenience for busy people and there was a different reason to pick up a carry-out pizza. Still, I was glad to hear his Confucian work ethic coming out.
"No, the point of picking up a pizza is to have a tantalizing aroma in the car for ten minutes to drive you crazy, before you get a chance to eat it." I said. "What's tantalizing mean?" was the not-surprising reply.
We were on our way to La Fresca Pizza, a small carryout-and-delivery pizza joint in Meyerland's Braeswood Square. I'd ignored the place for months, because the exterior features cheap-looking graphics and advertises a $7.99 large-pizza offer, as if it is trying to rival Little Caesars. Worse, the slogan is "Always Fresh," which makes La Fresca sound as if it's competing with frozen pizza.
Nevertheless, a little pizza bird told me that La Fresca has perhaps the best thin-crust pizza in the area. But I was with my son, who likes a breadier crust, and small kid-size slices. That was fine with me for reviewing purposes, as nothing reveals pizza flaws better than a small pizza.
I asked the man at the counter if La Fresca was a national chain, and he said no, it was a family operation, and that everything was made fresh in-store. I asked him what La Fresca was known for, and he said the Combination was very popular.
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After a 15-minute wait, we took our pizza to the car to have a look. It was colorful and shiny and smelled terrific. I yoinked a nugget of sausage to sample, and my son snagged a pepperoni. We were utterly pleased with the temptation, and the tantalizing aroma convinced the lad of the wisdom of pick-up pizza.
We tore into the pizza as soon as we arrived home. Normally we leave the crust edges for the crows out back, but La Fresca's crust would make a delicious bread treat on its own, and for the first time ever my son ate complete slices of a pizza. The peppers, onions, cheese, pepperonis and sausage did indeed taste noticeably fresh, making the "Always Fresh" slogan no longer ridiculous. Best of all, the sauce lacked the sugary sweetness that is the bane of many carryout pizzas.
There's many varieties of pizza -- New York, Neopolitan, Chicago, Tuscan and Sicilian come to mind -- but there's also a class of pizza that can just be called American, and it's widely served by major chains such as Pizza Hut, Domino's and Papa John's. La Fresca makes a considerably better version of American pizza than these national chains, at a comparable price. Now that La Fresca is opening a new storefront on Kirby near Rice Village, it's got a good shot at being a successful (small) chain in Houston.