Here, Eat This

Upper Crust: Fia's Pizzeria

Classic margherita pizzas from Fia's Pizzeria in the Museum District.
Classic margherita pizzas from Fia's Pizzeria in the Museum District. Photo by Carlos Brandon
Let's get something out of the way for all my fellow potential dyslexics out there. It's Fia's, not Fiat's Pizzeria. And what exactly is Fia's Pizzeria, you ask. It is a relatively new fast-casual individual pizza concept — in the vein of Mod and Blaze Pizza's build-you-own pie model — in the corporate outskirt of the Museum District.

Located at 1200 Binz Street, the fast service, lunch-focused pizzeria shares a locale with its next door neighbor and sister restaurant, Bodega Taco Shop. Like its Tex-Mex sibling, the shiny new pizza kitchen joins the legions of Houston fast-casual restaurants that you're either intimately familiar with or have never even heard of, depending entirely on where you live and work.

click to enlarge Traditional Sweet Thai Pepper wings from Fia's Pizzeria - PHOTO BY CARLOS BRANDON
Traditional Sweet Thai Pepper wings from Fia's Pizzeria
Photo by Carlos Brandon
For the thousands who live and work in the transitional cluster of buildings between the Med Center and Museum District, which are technically part of the latter but function as part of the former, Bodegas is an affordable, passable midday Tex-Mex option that beats Taco Bell or Chipotle but doesn't quite merit a mention on any best of lists. With the opening of Fia's, we (and likely its owners) hope the in-and-out pie concept earns better reviews.

First impressions at 5 p.m. only served to reiterate the concept's undeniable dependence on the local lunch crowd. The place was a ghost town, with a manager stocking beverage fridges as though preparing to close, despite a posted closing time of 10 p.m. Nonetheless, it's an inviting ambiance. Well lit with modern design touches and even a modest amount of contemporary patio seating.

As you might expect, price is the main selling point here. The folks at Fia's aren't exactly gunning for a James Beard nod, but at $9 for an 11" pie, it'll take a lot to draw a complaint from us. Doughs seems to be pre-tossed and rolled — whether in-house or offsite we can't say, though the website claims they're made from scratch and hand-tossed.

click to enlarge Classic margherita from Fia's Pizzeria in the Museum District - PHOTO BY CARLOS BRANDON
Classic margherita from Fia's Pizzeria in the Museum District
Photo by Carlos Brandon
After a quick stint in what is undoubtedly an extremely hot oven, the resulting crust is surprisingly well baked — almost artisanal. Thin and crispy, with light charring akin to brick or wood fired ovens, it's a fairly high end crust for a cheap on-the-go pie. Ingredients are, unfortunately, less impressive. A mildly canned-tasting tomato sauce meets uninspiring mozzarella and, for the classic margherita, tomatoes are diced and spread on like a burrito bowl. The liberal dose of olive oil before baking is a nice, if entirely common touch of flavor.

While not at all the focus, the menu is rather diverse. From salads and sandwiches to a small list of appetizers and bone-in or boneless wings. An order of traditional bone-in Sweet Thai Pepper wings were, to our pleasant surprise, both well-cooked and delicious. The sauce, while too sweet, had an unmistakable Asian flare, while the chicken was on par with your average national chicken wing franchise. Making Fia's a viable option for quick, middle of the day chicken wing cravings as much as for pizza.

click to enlarge Meatballs in marinara from Fia's Pizzeria - PHOTO BY CARLOS BRANDON
Meatballs in marinara from Fia's Pizzeria
Photo by Carlos Brandon
On the other hand, our order of meatballs was entirely forgettable, if not downright unappealing. Bland and mushy, the beef meatballs were drowned in an artificial tasting marinara sauce and blanketed in more cheese than the actual pizzas. It's certainly one to to avoid.

Fia's Pizzeria is, in our opinion, an above average pizzeria for the price and convenience with some above average alternative menu options. It is categorically not a joint to consider for weekends or perhaps even dinner, but a positive addition to a restaurant landscape almost exclusively geared toward the noon working crowd.
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Houston Press contributor Carlos Brandon is a freelance writer, blogger, and self proclaimed Houston hip hop historian. He contributes to various publications and can usually be found haggling with food truck cooks or talking politics on the METRO Rail.
Contact: Carlos Brandon