The Austin Chronicle

Restaurant Review

Reviewed by Mick Vann, September 24, 2010, Food

Spartan Pizza

8504 S. Congress #3, 484-0798
Tuesday-Thursday, 6-10pm; Friday-Saturday, 6pm-12mid

Nestled under the shade trees right outside the Red Shed Tavern, not that far north of Slaughter Lane, sits the gleaming 1955 Spartan Imperial Mansion travel trailer that has been retrofitted to become Spartan Pizza. Owners Kelly Kerbow Hudson and Jeremy and Nicole Portwood have joined forces to create exquisite NY-style pies in their rebuilt vintage double-decker Blodgett pizza oven. Named for characters in Greek mythology (a natural, given the Spartan trailer as home base), the pizzas and paninis are made using fresh dough and the best ingredients. What is obvious to us is that great thought went into the combinations; all components are very complementary. The other thing you'll discover when you taste Spartan's pies is that the toppings are distributed with care so that every bite presents a different taste profile.

We sampled the Zeus (all named pizzas are $8.50/10-inch and $13.50/14-inch), which is topped with roasted garlic olive oil, very high-quality bacon, fresh spinach, slices of plum tomato, slices of fresh mozzarella, and grated mozzarella. Simply put, this is a spectacularly delicious pizza, worthy of the Greek god for whom it is named. The ratio of toppings-to-dough is perfect, while the crust is chewy and light and nicely browned from the stones. The Hades is just as good, topped with tomato sauce, excellent chunk Italian sausage, tart green olives, puddles of melted herbed ricotta, and a generous sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Again, a magnificent pizza pie with ideal balance and flavor. You can also build your own pie ($7.50/11.50), which gets you one topping and a choice between tomato sauce or the garlic olive oil; there's a huge list of additional toppings at $1-2 each.

We tried a panini as well, settling on the Athena (all paninis are $6.50). Loaded with roasted mushroom slices, spinach, artichokes, Parmesan, and roasted garlic olive oil, it is a vegetarian's dream. Dine on the picnic tables or inside Red Shed, or take it to-go. This is fantastic pizza, not to be missed.

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