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Dishing The Dish: Three Perspectives on Porky Heaven


Today, we introduce a new feature on SavorSA that will focus on some of great work that’s being done in restaurants around town. It’s called The Dish and it will shine a light on a culinary creation that’s worth singling out for praise. It could be something seasonal, a new sensation or an old favorite. The sole point is to make you aware of the savory treats in SA.

If you have any favorites you’d like to share, either post them below or email walker@savorsa.com or griffin@savorsa.com.

This initial effort features three pork-related dishes to wet your appetite. Each illustrates porcine perfection in a unique way.

Pig Face Wood-Fired Pie at Bin 555

Pig Face Wood-Fired Pie
Bin 555 at the Alley
555 W. Bitters Road
(210) 496-0555

Who can resist a pizza baked in a wood-fired oven that’s hot enough to scorch the bottom of the dough, giving it a slightly burnt taste that’s practically irresistible?

That’s just the beginning, though, of the joys of this pizza from chef Robbie Nowlin, who creates his own house-made torchon using, you guessed it, the whole pig’s face.  The meat is cured in salt, pink salt, white pepper and sugar for one day. Then parts are braised before being added back to the torchon before it’s ready to use.

Then come toppings of slivers of radish, strips of pecorino and, in an inspired touch, pickled mustard seeds. The chef finishes it off with leaves arugula just before serving that add a fresh green vibrancy as well as a peppery bite.

I had a couple of leftover slices for breakfast the following morning. The radish flavor intensified, giving the pizza a welcome wake-up bite.

Using the pig’s head is, like using a cow’s head in barbacoa, a wonderful way to use as much meat on an animals as possible without letting it go to waste. Place another of these beautiful pizzas in front of me, and you’ll see another example of food not going to waste.

The 50/50 Burger at Big Bob’s.

The 50/50 Burger
Big Bob’s Burgers
447 W. Hildebrand Ave.
(210) 734-2627

Bacon cheeseburgers have long been justifiably popular, but why not take that experience to a whole new level by adding the bacon to the burger and not just on top of it?

That’s the appeal of this burger, which is made up of equal parts ground chuck and ground bacon. So, all that pork goodness fills every bite, while the chuck gives it a sturdy structure with plenty of meat and fat for the required beefiness and juiciness. Add a slab of sharp cheddar and chef Robert Riddle’s grilling, which lends it a smoky flavor, and you have a big fat phenomenon.

Of course, you could crown that combination with crisp bacon strips, but I can’t decide if that’s a bit too much or just a deliciously new means of satisfying my inner oinker.

A word of caution to those Texans who want their beef dead done: The whole patty is pinker than you may be used to. The grilling on the outside adds a little blackness, but the center is pinker than you may want. That’s from the addition of bacon, not the cooking technique.

For those of us keeping low-carb, Big Bob’s also offers the burger on a salad with artichoke hearts, garbanzos, olives, pepperoncini and more laid over a mound of spring greens. Good and healthful, just the way I like it.

The Peacemaker Po’Boy
Where Y’at
Alamo Street Eat-Bar
609 S. Alamo St.
(210) 420-0069

The SA food truck scene is burgeoning with exciting new flavors to please most any palate. Place this po’boy from Pieter Sypesteyn at the top of your must-try list.

The chef starts with an unbeatable combination of corn meal-breaded oysters and crunchy pork belly, braised in root beer before being deep-fried, both of which add a mouthwatering saltiness that enlivens the layers of mustardy coleslaw, pickles and fresh jalapeño slivers, all slathered with the right amount of creamy rémoulade.

Yet, as special as the combination of pork and seafood is, not to mention the pristine freshness of the other ingredients, were, the real stars of the sandwich were thick slices of perfectly ripe, old-fashioned tomato, which brought everything together in one incomparable whole. Not surprisingly, the tomatoes were from Cora Lamar’s Oak Hills Farm, by way of the Pearl Farmers Market. There’s a reason people rave about local food, and a tomato that tastes like a tomato is it. .

NOLA snobs may turn up their noses at a po’boy not made back at home because of how special the bread there is, but this is that bread. It’s Gambino’s French Bread, imported from the Quarter. For those don’t know the type of bread a po’boy should be served on, think of a baguette, yet one with a crackly exterior that is not too dense and a center that is not too fluffy. In short, it’s sturdy enough to hold its choice filling without falling apart into a soggy mess. Plus, Sypesteyn toasts the bread first and the rémoulade just melts into it.

I made the mistake of getting the half version of this beauty the first time I tried it. I’ve make peace with myself about that and will never let it happen again.

 

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Easy Appetizers: Stock up for the Holidays


FoodStillLife2The phone just rang. It was friends announcing they were going to drop by. You just got off work and haven’t a thing to serve them. Or so you think. The following are easy appetizers that you can create out of items you may have in your refrigerator or pantry that will make it seem as if you were expecting company.

Some items to keep on hand:

  • Chips and salsa. This is San Antonio. Any questions? You can liven up the usual mix with a jar of black bean dip, but even that’s not necessary if your salsa and your chips are good.
  • Tins of anchovies, sardines, smoked oysters and other seafood favorites, as well as canned pâté, that some guests will enjoy.
  • Several types of crackers, including soda crackers, Wheat Thins and Triscuit, so guests have a choice.
  • Three or four distinctly different cheeses. These can range from a soft cheese, like a triple crème, to a harder cheese, such as Manchego. They don’t have to fancy, either. Aged cheddar, a smoky Gouda, a spreadable goat cheese from Texas, a block of Swiss, Colby and Monterey Jack all have their fans.
  • Sliced salami of various types, from pepperoni to Genoa to spicy Hungarian styles, and prosciutto or ham are great to have on hand. Also stock up on a couple of mustards you can offer to dip them into.
  • Bread of some sort: Cocktail rye slices, pumpernickel, pita bread, flour tortillas and baguette are among the easier styles to serve at a moment’s notice.
  • Popcorn. Try seasoning your popcorn with various flavors, from black truffle to Cajun spice to Parmesan cheese and pepper. It takes only minutes to pop a fresh batch in a Dutch oven, which tastes so much better than the stuff that comes out of the microwave.
  • Jars of pickled or preserved vegetables and fruits. Roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, cornichons, giardinara and even pickled brussels sprouts are at most area supermarkets. The olive bar is a great place for easy snacks. Ethnic stores offer an even wider variety, including baby eggplants, grilled zucchini and radish.
  • A piece of ripe fruit to go with the cheeses. Pears, apples and oranges are all in season now and full of flavor.
  • Dark chocolates. Have a bar of 70 percent dark chocolate, another of 85 percent and a third with some sort of flavor. Break off a few pieces of each for a comparison tasting. Serve with dried cranberries, raisins or nuts on the side.
  • Good olive oil, good balsamic vinegar.
  • Dried fruit and nuts. Mix them together with a touch of coconut or serve them separately.
  • Chex Mix. Some snacks are classics for a reason. With this party mix, it’s the irresistible combination of Worcestershire sauce, butter and garlic powder on top of cereal, nuts and pretzels that make it so appealing.
  • Keep a bottle of white wine or sparkling wine in the refrigerator or a six-pack of beer, so you are ready with drinks. Reds are easier to have ready since they should be served at around 65 degrees or so; if the bottle is a little warm, pop in the refrigerator for a few minutes before opening.

Here are some quick appetizer ideas:

  • Wrap a radish with an anchovy. Skewer with a toothpick.
  • Drain assorted olives, rinse and warm in the oven with a little olive oil, your favorite spices, some citrus zest and a skewer of fresh rosemary.
  • Take slices of sour dough rye, layer with feta, then ripe tomatoes and fresh herbs. Drizzle a little olive oil on top and some freshly cracked black pepper. Or top the cheese with slices of pear and black pepper.
  • Top slices of cocktail rye or pumpernickel with butter, Swiss cheese and slivers of radish.
  • Roll and slice of prosciutto or black forest ham around a tender raw stalk of asparagus. The ham also works wrapped around a crunchy dill pickle.
  • Offer slivers of smoked salmon and cream cheese on cocktail rye or pumpernickel. Serve with diced onion or chopped hard-cooked egg and a touch of fresh dill.
  • Top toasted slices of baguette with hummus and crown with strips of roasted red bell pepper, herbs, toasted pine nuts, olive slices or a touch of spice, such as sumac or Chilean merkén.
  • Nachos, fresh from the broiler, are always welcome.
  • Baked brie in puff pastry is easy to assemble and always welcome. Just follow the directions on the package of brie. Serve with crackers and fruit. Or, just heat the brie up, either in the oven or microwave until it’s warm and softened and starting to ooze out of its casing. Top with a big handful of thinly sliced scallion.
  • Boil your own shrimp, which taste so much better than those processed shrimp rings, and serve with a homemade cocktail sauce that has just enough horseradish and lemon to give it a kick.
  • Another appetizer that can be made in a minute flat is to open up an 8-ounce package of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, mound on top of it as much fresh jumbo lump crabmeat as you can afford, then empty a jar of good (cold) cocktail sauce over the crab. Very good with crackers.
  • Bagna cauda is a quick-and-easy Italian butter dip that’s great with vegetables. Click here for a recipe.
  • Make bagel pizzas. Slice the bagel in half, top with your favorite pizza sauce and garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese. Pop under the broiler until the cheese melts, 2 or 3 minutes. Add pepperoni, bell pepper or mushrooms, to taste.
  • Make a dip mixing equal parts 8 ounces each of salsa and cream cheese at room temperature. Whip together until full incorporated. Top with a confetti of diced red onion and green and red bell pepper. Serve with bagel chips.
  • Make quick quesadillas by using shredded cheese between two flour tortillas and your choice of filling. Add cooked beef fajitas or grilled shrimp, and it’s so much the better.
  • If you have any leftover Holiday Cran-Raspberry Sauce or sweet-spicy jelly, pour it over cream cheese.
  • This recipe for crab dip comes from my late sister-in-law, Jeanne Servais: Clean 7 ounces crab meat, mix it with 8 ounces cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce and1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce. Mix well and bake in a greased, oven-proof dish at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
  • If you want to use your slow cooker, then here’s a good one to mix together. Grease the dish first, then add 2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese softened at room temperature, 1 cup milk,2 1/4 ounces sliced dried beef and1 tablespoon dry mustard. Mix well. Heat on low for several hours until melted together. Serve with cubes of good bread on fondue sticks or wooden skewers as well as vegetable sticks.
  • If your guests like a mix of sweet and salty, then place individual butter pretzels (the little square kind)  on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Then place a single unwrapped Rolo candy on each pretzel. Top each candy with pecan half. Bake at 250 degrees until the candy is melted.  Allow to cool or refrigerate before serving.
  • Don’t forget one of the simplest of all appetizers: A shallow bowl of extra-good, extra virgin olive oil, seasoned as you like it, with kosher salt and cracked pepper, herbs, a few hot pepper flakes. And, have slices of very fresh baguette to dip into it.

(Photo: Zsuzsanna Kilian)

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Coming Soon: Big Lou’s Burgers & BBQ


The sign out front of the future home of Big Lou's Burgers & BBQ.

The sign out front of 2014 S. W.W. White Road says it call: Coming soon … Big Lou’s Burgers & BBQ.

Well, almost all. It’s opening at the end of October.

If Big Lou’s does burgers and barbecue with any of the care and attention it (he?) lavishes on pizza, lasagna and chicken, then look out, W.W. White drivers. The traffic will be getting heavier in that neighborhood.

Big Lou’s Pizza is nearby at 2048 S. W.W. White Road.

 

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Fralo’s Plans to Add Microbrewery, Plus Eating Vegan and More


Artful pizzas at Fralo's that taste as good as they look.

Fralo’s Art of Pizza, 23651 I-10 W., is expanding at its Leon Springs location.

Owner Frank Hakspiel says he has purchased microbrewery equipment from Sea World and plans to open his own brewery on the property in the spring. The microbrewer from Sea World has agreed to help him get started once the equipment has been moved to the site.

He has already named one of the beers, Grant’s Pale Ale, for his infant son. Grant’s name is also on the caramelized pear and prosciutto pizza the restaurant offers.

Hakspiel is also talking about adding a second restaurant next door. It would offer high-end Italian food prepared by former Il Sogno chef Luca Della Casa, who has been working at the restaurant, making all of the revamped pasta dishes and providing specials each weekend. “He makes all of the pasta,” Hakspiel says.

Della Casa has also added a Torino pizza — Italian sausage, chicken, arugula, sun dried tomatoes, mozzarella and provolone cheese with a spicy tomato sauce — that was named after his home region in Italy. Torino is also a possibility for the name of the new restaurant, Hakspiel says.

Isn't she a beauty? Fralo's is going to transform her into a catering truck.

As if all that weren’t enough, Hakspiel has plans for the 1940s-era fire truck he has on the property. He plans on adding an oven to the back of the truck and use it for catering. Kids of any age who have played with a miniature fire truck should love having the real thing at a party.

We learned this over a wonderful lunch at Fralo’s with vegan travel blogger Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, who produces and writes HealthyVoyager.com. She was able to get a vegan pizza that she declared one of the five  best she has ever had. In keeping with Fralo’s ongoing desire to please a multitude of tastes and diets, the restaurant also offers gluten-free and whole wheat crusts as well as an off-the-menu feature of a miniature pizza made on a portobello mushroom for those who are avoiding flour.

For more information about Fralo’s, call 210-698-6616 or click here.

 

Exploring more vegan options

Carolyn Scott-Hamilton and her husband, Dan Hamilton: Healthy Voyagers at Fralo's.

Other restaurants Scott-Hamilton and her husband, Dan Hamilton, also her cameraman, visited during their stay were Mi Tierra, the Cove and Adelante. She described the latter, with its riot of color and collection of whimsical Mexican folk art as looking “like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.”

The couple are from Los Angeles and were here on a Convention and Visitors Bureau trip for travel writers. A Boston blogger who writes about women traveling alone and an Orange County mom who writes about traveling with her kids were also invited. All three were part of teams that competed against each other in a series of events that ranged from feeding the lorikeets at the zoo to lassoing a statue of a cow. On Sunday, in the heat, the couple found themselves running from the Tower of the Americas to the Alamo, where they had to start a conga line and encourage as many participants as they could to join in.

If you’re wondering why Scott-Hamilton and her husband didn’t go to Green, Pavani Express or the city’s new vegan restaurant, Vegeria, which opened last week at 8407 Broadway, it’s because she likes to focus her trips on restaurants where vegans are welcome, even if the place is not entirely vegan.

At the Cove, she was able to get the Vegan Bacon Cheeseburger and a Vegan BLT along with a gluten-free beer before heading off to First Friday.

If you are looking for vegan food and are unsure if a restaurant can accommodate your tastes, give it a call first and ask. It’s as simple as that.

Wine Spectator honors area restaurants

Wine Spectator magazine has released its annual roundup of restaurants with excellent wine lists. New this year is Antlers Lodge at the Hyatt Hill Country, 9800 Hyatt Resort Drive.

Others to make the list are Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, Biga on the Banks, Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, Coco Chocolate Lounge, Fleming’s, Fogo de Chão, Francesca’s at Sunset, Kirby’s, Las Ramblas, Morton’s the Steakhouse, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Silo, the Melting Pot, the Palm and Wildfish Seafood Grille.

The importance of the list has been debated, but despite any faults, it does bring in customers, which is why you’ll find a restaurant like Morton’s unveiling a new program, the Sommelier Selections of its wine list. This area includes boutique wines and rare gems that include Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon (Howell Mountain 2005) and Freemark Abbey Cabernet (Napa 2002), which are available only at Morton’s domestic locations.

Wine on tap

We always thought wine sales would go up if you could get a great glass without having to buy the full bottle. This is the secret behind the Boerne Wine Company, 302 S. Main St., Boerne, where you can try such top-shelf wines as PlumpJack and Palmaz by the glass from their dispenser systems that keep an open bottle fresher for longer period of time.

Now, Boston.com is reporting that a few wineries are selling their best by tap. “That’s right, sauvignon blanc and pinot noir from kegs, not bottles, dispensed from a tap like beer and ale,” the article says. “The approach promises to remake restaurant by-the-glass programs by lowering costs, dramatically reducing waste (wine in open bottles deteriorates rapidly), and making the whole process considerably greener. … But a switch won’t happen overnight.”

Costs, of course, are a factor. But if this catches on, it will be a revolution in wine and dining.

 

 

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Radicchio Pizza with Truffle Oil


Fresh radicchio

This simple yet seductive pizza recipe comes from actress Alicia Silverstone’s best-selling “The Kind Diet” (Rodale, $29.99). And it’s perfect for fall, now that lettuces like radicchio are springing up again.

“When my friend Liz first taught me how to make this pizza, she used an organic sourdough spelt crust, but really any whole grain crust will do,” Silverstone writes. “This pizza is perfect for dinner parties or just a cozy night at home.”

Radicchio Pizza with Truffle Oil

1 large head radicchio
Olive oil, to taste
Fine sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
White truffle oil, to taste
1 fresh pizza crust (preferably a healthy whole grain variety)

Cut the radicchio in half, the slice each half crosswise into thin ribbons (as thin as possible). Dress with olive oil, salt, pepper and a few dashes of white truffle oil to taste.

Preheat the oven to 415 degrees. Toast the pizza crust in the oven for 7 minutes or until it is heated through and slightly golden but not crunchy. Scatter the dressed radicchio over the pizza crust and return to the oven for another 3 to 5 minutes, until the radicchio is warm and just starting to wilt. Serve immediately.

Makes 2 to 4 servings.

From “The Kind Diet” by Alicia Silverstone

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Dough to Expand Hours


Dough Pizzeria Napoletana is expanding its hours.

Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, 6989 Blanco Road, will soon expand its hours to be open seven days a week.

As of Nov. 14, the restaurant will be open on Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m. On Mondays, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., the same hours as will be in effect for Tuesday-Thursday. Hours for Fridays and Saturdays are 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

The family-owned pizzeria uses a wood-burning oven made in Naples, Italy, to prepare its pizzas. It also has a mozzarella bar where several types of cheese including burrata are made fresh daily.

For more information, call 210-979-6565 or click here.

Dough's pizza oven comes from Naples.

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CiCi’s Pizza Opens on the South Side


CiCi's pizza buffet.

CiCi’s Pizza has opened a location at 2335 S.W. Military Road.

The new south San Antonio location will employ 40 people, while offering patrons an endless pizza buffet for $5.49 a person.

CiCi's Pizza Italiano

“We’ve been a part of the San Antonio community for years, and we’re excited to bring yet another CiCi’s location to the area,” franchisee Tommy Marlin said. “CiCi’s endless buffet offers so many choices, there’s something for everyone in the community, and every family member to enjoy.”

CiCi’s offers a variety of unique pizzas, including Macaroni & Cheese, Mexican Pizza Olé and Spinach Alfredo. The latest is the Italiano, a thin-crust pizza with several cheeses, sausage and a special spice blend.

Hours are 11 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Click here for more information.

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Griffin to Go: Getting Slowly Back into the Kitchen


Putting the finishing touches on a pizza.

Most of my recent days have blurred into one endless repeat of the day before. It’s all because I’ve been working seven days a week and accumulating as much overtime as I can possibly get.

Working a steady job will do that to me. I love the structure of reporting to work at a certain time of day (although 6 a.m. is a bit much for me, as I am a night owl by nature). I even love it when I work for days on end, though I have to bear in mind that this is only a temporary job that will end in just a few weeks.

The day-in-day-out routine has had a drastic effect on my cooking life, and I have heard a similar comment from a co-worker who is a culinary school grad. I haven’t had the drive to cook or eat much at the end of the day. I just teeter on home, spend a few minutes with my bird and head off to bed. I can sympathize with all of you who face the same and yet have to put together something for your family each evening.

While cooking may not be on the agenda, dreaming about what I would like to cook has been.

First and foremost is a savory zucchini cobbler with sundried tomatoes and basil leaves in a buttery filling with a corn meal topping.

Another is a decadent dessert with homemade peach ice cream atop a blackberry-peach crumble. Both ingredients are in season, so why not enjoy them while they are at their freshest.

And I would just to fire up the grill and fill it with three or four ears of corn rubbed with a hot chile before dredging it through melted butter and lime juice.

But they are likely to be dreams for a few more weeks.

I did get back into a kitchen this past Sunday, thanks to a monthly Bible study group that I’ve been a part of for years. We had decided to have a pizza party before we began our regular reading.

One member, Sandy, made a series of doughs, including whole wheat with basil to white with Parmesan cheese. Erica brought a garlicky tomato sauce for the base. David, Angie, Judy, Steve, our hostess Sue and others brought an assortment of toppings and other treats: sausage, peppers, onion, mushrooms, turkey pepperoni, green and black olives, spinach, chicken, you name it. The cheese list featured mozzarella, feta, provolone, grana padano and Jalapeño Jack. I brought along the anchovies, which only I wanted, as well as artichoke hearts.

Pizza with spinach, chicken, artichoke hearts and feta.

I had signed up for a salad and ended up tossing together the simplest one I could think of: cucumber slices and apple in rice vinegar, a touch of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Fresh mint leaves were torn over the top. That’s it, yet it was simply delicious.

It was also something I could do while being exhausted and I will likely make it again in the near future for that very reason. I may vary the ingredients a little. Daikon radish would be good and maybe other herbs from the backyard, such as lovage or parsley.

What mattered most was helping put together the pizzas. There was something therapeutic about handing the dough Sandy made and helping to spread it out on the cookie sheets we used as well as assembling the pies with the various toppings, whether it was a sausage and peppers pie or one with an assortment of meats and cheeses.

Of course, we made way too much. But that’s the beauty of pizza, isn’t it? Who can resist a breakfast of cold pizza with sautéed spinach, chicken and artichoke hearts on top?

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At Big Lou’s, the Emphasis Is on Big


14 inch pie at Big Lous

At Big Lou’s you can get a pizza that’s so large you have to sit at a special table. The pie is 42 inches in diameter, which equals more than 9 square feet.

On certain days, I feel I could put away one of those by myself before slipping into a carb-induced coma.

But on a recent visit to this favorite pizza joint, I felt like sampling my way across the menu, so we started the meal with a dozen mild chicken wings, meaty little morsels that got a pleasant kick from black pepper. Doused in ranch dressing, they were wonderful, and they always have been.

Food: 4.0
Service: 3.0
Value: 4.0

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

Let’s face it, I’m prejudiced when it comes to Big Lou’s. I’ve been a fan for years, starting with visits to its original location, a real hole-in-the-wall operation filled with picnic tables and the kind of bonhomie that you can’t fake.

In its new home on South W.W. White, the kitchen remains faithful to the flavors and recipes that Big Lou’s reputation was built on. It’s still homey and welcoming. But once the wing bones were stripped of every last shred of meat, I was ready to try something new. Or at least new to me.

That was the Italian Sub, a warm sandwich with salami and other cold cuts melted into the bun with a generous amount of provolone. Sides of Italian dressing, lettuce and black olives that you could dress to your own taste made this 9-inch sub a real treat.

The main course, of course, was a pizza. Instead of the 42-incher, we settled on a 14-inch pie. Half was topped with anchovies, the other half with Italian sausage, green peppers, olives and onions. The crust was of medium thickness and puffed out at the edges. But it never tasted too bready. Instead, we both enjoyed the yeasty taste and how well it was complemented by the seasoned tomato sauce and shredded cheese that held the pie together.

Surprisingly, I wasn’t crazy about the anchovies. The little fish hadn’t been rinsed, which meant they were almost too salty for me – and that’s saying something. I was more taken with the house-made sausage, with its kick of fennel, and the vegetables that retains just enough crispness to add texture. I folded the large slices in half and went at it with abandon. Even the cold leftovers made for a great breakfast.

There are times when the place is so busy that the wait seems to last and last. But if you go in mid-afternoon, like we did, the food appears fairly quickly and steaming hot, making that first bite of pizza as perfect as you could want.

Wings

Italian Sub Sandwich

Big Lou’s Pizza
2048 S. W.W. White Road
(210) 337-0707
Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday-Sunday. Closed Monday.

Photos: Nicholas Mistry

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Pizzabella Offers a Tasty Slice – and More


If you live on the Northwest side of town and are looking for a comfortable place for a slice of New York-style pizza, a well-tended salad bar or a pint of Guinness on the tap, then Pizzabella delivers.

The slices ($3.29 each) I’ve had in recent visits were cut wide, perfect to fold in half before biting into. The crust may not be quite as charred on the bottom as you’ll find in New York, but the balance of cheese to sauce to crust made it a pleasure. Bella, indeed. Plus, my request for anchovies ($.59 per topping) was met with about eight of the salty delights on each slice.

Food: 3.5
Service: 3.5
Value: 3.5

Rating scale:
5: Extraordinary
4: Excellent
3: Good
2: Fair
1: Poor

The whole pizzas I’ve had in the past, such as the Mucho Meat ($21.99 for a 20-inch pie) with pepperoni, sausage, beef, Canadian bacon and bacon, have also been good.

If you want a twist on a couple of slices, check out the Italian Job ($8.59), a kind of pizza sandwich in which the rolled up dough is filled with melted cheese, salami, ham and turkey along with roasted red peppers.

I have become quite partial to the Sicilian, a sandwich that just seems to get all of its ingredients playing together to form a genuine treat. Start with a toasty roll, then fill it with a flavorful mix of ham, salami and capicola. Add some provolone, fairly ripe tomatoes, lettuce and the tangy of olive salad, and you may find a 12-inch sandwich too small.

The ham and provolone works along similar lines, but without the pepper addition of the salami. The Meatball “Parm” was loaded with excellent meatballs and plenty of cheese, and the bread was strong enough to hold the filling together. (The sandwiches are $5.99 for a 6-inch sub, $8.99 for a 12-inch.)

Dessert was a letdown, as the cannoli shell was a little soggy while the filling was too sweet. I’d rather order another glass of wine from the well-chosen list or one of the beer drinks (why limit yourself to a black-and-tan when you can have a layered beer-cider drink?).

Service has been friendly and efficient, though the foot traffic wasn’t always busy in the late evenings when my friends and I have visited.

For those of you with heftier appetites: The restaurant’s website says that the all-you-can-eat buffet is available at lunch Monday-Friday and from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Monday evening.

Pizzabella
14218 Nacogdoches Road
(210) 946-5202
Open daily for lunch and dinner

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