13450 N. Hwy183,
It's all there, the smell of garlic, the collection of empty Chianti bottles, the Frank Sinatra tapes, the paint-splattered naugehyde booths. On the East Coast, it would be nothing special, but in Austin, Reale's is a miracle. Drop what you're doing and drive out there right now. On the way you can decide whether to go for the big, bubbly-crusted 16-inch pie which gets a little wet in the middle or to stick with the 14 incher which stays crisp all the way across. It's a tough choice. You sacrifice the big bubbles with the 14 incher, but the crust stays perfect. Don't miss the fennel sausage and don't bite into your pizza until it cools off!
8105 Mesa, 346-9800
A new, thinner crust has revived Roppolo's popularity among the crispy pizza crowd. After all the grief they've gotten for their too-thick crust, it's hard to argue with their decision to roll the pizza thinner. That's not the way it's done in New York, but in this case it's an improvement. The toppings were excellent as ever. Roppolo's may not be my favorite New York pizza in town anymore, but they still make a great pie.
The thin crust had been rolled out with a rolling pin and although it lacked the air bubbles that make New York pizza great, it was very crispy. The balance of sauce and cheese was perfect, although the sauce could use a healthy dose of garlic. The sausage is excellent. All in all, a very good pizza.
Milto's Pizza Pub
It was a cold, rainy day. The hot pizza, Greek salad, and red wine soothed our souls as we stared out of the steamy, rain-streaked windows onto Guadalupe. The sausage and anchovies were good, the ambiance and Greek salad were wonderful. The bottom of the pizza crust showed the telltale alligator skin pattern of the pizza sheeter. It would have been crisp if the pizza sauce wasn't so runny; it soaked through the crust as soon as they cut it. Still, on that dreary day, Milto's seemed like a blessing.
Nick's Great Pizza
11302 FM2222, 331-4471
Nick's reminds me of the boardwalk pizza joints on many East Coast beaches. The pizza is ultra-thin with a crispy, cracker-like crust that breaks rather than bends. I like the pizza, but it's the pinball machines and funky screened porch ambiance that always brings me back. It's a great place to stop on the way home from Lake Travis and the kids love it. Nick's is only open on weekends.
New York Style Pizza
3301 Hancock #1, 453-3200
Good crust, wrong oven. The crust is fluffy enough, but it doesn't cook right, it stays doughy on the outside while the center gets gloppy. The anchovies were good, the sausage pellets were bad. Sauce was decent. They go a little overboard on the cheese. Don't go to Marcello's to eat a pizza on the premises; there are no tables, chairs or even a stand-up counter.
1608 W. 35 St., 453-4330; 1209 Red River, 477-7006; 10710 Research, 345-6181
Nice oven, wrong crust. The Brick Oven on Research makes a damn good pie. The one on 35th is obviously still learning. It's hard to figure out how they can put a pizza in such a great oven and have the crust come out tasting like cardboard. I suspect they need a new crust recipe -- one with a little yeast in it.
Frank & Angie's
508 West Ave., 472-3534
When Frank & Angie's first opened, I had little hope for them. The ingredients were mediocre and the pizzas always seemed undercooked. Now I have to admit, they have come a long way. I took the family there for a giant-size pizza recently and I was pleasantly surprised. The crust was crispy all the way across and the sauce seems to have improved too. But Frank & Angie's strongest appeal has always been their prices. The daily lunch special offers a slice of pizza, a salad, and tea or coffee for $4.95.
704 Congress, 480-8440
Everything looks legit at Cozzoli's downtown (the crusts are hand tossed and it's quite a show), but the massive, sold-separately slices appear to be the way to go to get as close as possible to a New York experience. The fact that they stick the slice back into the oven for warming alone will ensure a crustier bottom. But the two medium pies we ordered for take-out were undercooked, and I actually witnessed the pizza cook, on intermittent looks into the oven, push down with a spatula the bubbling crust edges we yearn for. What a shame.
2021 Guadalupe (inside Dobie Mall), 474-1876
When Niki's was downstairs at Dobie Mall -- before it became part of a "food court" -- it felt like a pizza parlour you might find on the Jersey Shore. And the Pizza was as close to N.Y. as we could find back then. But just because it's nestled in neon now doesn't mean they've started making a fast-food pie. A Niki's large cheese is giant, and the crust -- though a tiny bit thick -- is still perfectly crisp all the way through. The sauce could have had a little more flavor, and perhaps they go a bit light on the cheese for our tastes, but a Niki's pie is still a winner.
Dishing Austin Pizza: Send your pizza comments and any suggestions for Reale's new downtown location to: RobbWalsh@aol.com
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