Not Quite A Home Run at Reginelli's Pizzeria

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Solid crust? Check. Inventive toppings? Check. Wine by the glass and bottle, plus a casual atmosphere? Check. What else could you really ask for in a pizza place?

They certainly have all of that at Reginelli's Pizzeria, now open in Memorial City -- the first Houston location of the New Orleans chain with nine locations in Louisiana. After a recent visit, however, I can't say I'm sold on the place just yet. But that's not to say it doesn't have potential.

The restaurant's menu is loaded with salads, apps, pizzas, calzones and sandwiches that have Mediterranean and Southern flair, such as the avocado and asparagus salad tossed with feta, artichokes and kalamata olives; a shrimp and pesto-topped pizza; or Reginelli's version of New Orlean's famous muffaletta sandwich. There truly is something here for everyone, which was easy to see upon my arrival; the place was packed with big families and beaming kids, groups of teens sharing pies, and young couples gushing over bottles of wine.

Since I'm a sucker for the classics, my fiancé and I started with a glass of Pinot Noir ($8) and a Caesar salad ($4.75). The salad, tossed with house-made croutons in a garlic-studded, creamy Caesar dressing, was perfect for two (really, we ordered the small and it was anything but). Had I come with a larger crowd, I'd love to start with that and the appetizer I've been eyeing ever since I left -- the Hot Trio Plate, filled with roasted garlic spread (yes!), creamy spinach and artichoke dip (yes!), and a pancetta, onion, and fontina-topped portabella mushroom caps (yes, yes, yes!).

We certainly enjoyed the salad, but it was time for the real test: the pizza. We ordered the Saltimbocca pie ($11.95 for a medium, $16.75 for a large), topped with a buttery garlic and herb sauce, fresh spinach, shredded chicken, prosciutto, mozzarella, and a hint of lemon.

Here's what I loved: The flavorful, medium-crusted dough managed to hold all of those toppings while maintaining a surprisingly light and airy feel, thanks to the bubbles and valleys peaking throughout.

Here's what I didn't love: While I was super excited about the toppings (chicken, spinach, garlic, and prosciutto on a pie!), the end result was a bit of a bland disappointment; It begged for more acid -- perhaps a white wine sauce or more lemon -- and a bit less salt. We ended up enjoying it slightly more with a side of marinara, but next time, I'd go for another pie completely.

In the end it wasn't a home run -- but because of the texture and flavor of the crust and the variety of the menu, I'm not ready to give up on the place just yet. Here's hoping, Reginelli's.

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