Pungent Pizza

In a world where pizza is consistently associated with Italy, the Moroccan pizza ($6.95) at Cava Bistro (300 Main, 713-223-4068) might come as a surprise. But pizza is hardly uncommon in Morocco, since all the Mediterranean, Italy included, is a culinary mélange. This pizza's golden-brown crust is almost as soft as a dinner roll; the addition of honey keeps the dough moist, lends a slightly sweet taste and imparts color. The toppings -- purple onion, feta cheese and Moroccan sausage -- keep it simple, so the flavor of each can be savored. But the sausage, known as merguez, steals the show. Bistro owner Youssef Nafaa, who grew up in the Moroccan kitchens of his mother and grandmother, has coached a local sausage producer on making merguez. The beef sausage, spiced with cumin, paprika, cilantro, chili powder, garlic, onions and parsley, causes a pungent explosion in your mouth at first bite.
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Carol Rust