Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Adventure #14: Rounders Pizzeria

Every meal at Rounders starts with a free garlic knot. Go ahead and stare at the above picture and drool for a minute. Yes, that white stuff all over it is Parmesan cheese and garlic. Yes, after the knots were gone we used our fingers to get some more of that deliciousness out of the bowl. Now that you're hungry I present to you a Casino (large instead of extra large) pizza pie (as opposed to a no-sauce or marinated tomato base) with roasted red peppers, grilled sausage, and fresh garlic.

It's hard to pinpoint a particular strength or weakness of this pizza, so this will have to be one of those ones that gets less "reviewed" and more "experienced". So, here's a sample of internal monologue commentary, in chronological order:

"Oh, it's not cut all the way through... this is difficult."

"Whoa there toppings, where do you think you're going?"

"Mmmmm, that's a ton of cheese. They use an interesting blend. It has a little bit different textural experience, not super smooth and stretchy like a lot of places."


"At least there's plenty of sauce, even if my toppings are still sliding off the pizza."

"Wait! Is the fresh garlic underneath the cheese?! I believe it is."

I loved the atmosphere and staff here. There's classic arcade games including a sit-down Frogger table and an Indiana Jones Pinball machine set to 50 cent play (sigh). It's a great spot if you're heading to or from downtown.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Adventure #13: Austin Pizza Garden

Do you see the cheese coming off of that slice? Something about a lot of cheese, stretching long lines from your piece to the plate, makes me believe that the pie I'm about to eat is going to be awesome. Luckily, in this case my beliefs are justified. Austin Pizza Garden, you did a fine job.

Tchoupitoulas. . .let it roll off the tongue. Karin and I had little debate before ordering this nigh-unpronounceable cajun delicacy. Replete with Andouille sausage, Cajun shrimp, red onions, green peppers, roasted red peppers, and fresh garlic, the pizza promised us 'Hot and Spicy' from the menu.

(Side note: A bit of wiki research has shown me that Tchoupitoulas is a street in New Orleans, which explains the sausage and shrimp selections. The word is the name of an extinct Indian tribe, and is pronounced CHOP-it-TOO-luhs)

As usual, we grabbed a garlic bread side to serve as an emissary to the ambassador (the pizza.) This time it was a pesto garlic bread and was delicious, but for the second adventure in a row we thought that it would be better without the cheese.
(Looks good, doesn't it?)

The main event arrived on its pizza tray, the kind that keeps it off of the table and closer to your face. I'm starting to notice a correlation between my favorite pies and this type of serving method, and make no bones about it, this is one of our favorites. I'm going to get the weaknesses out of the way first, so we can focus on the highlights and end on a high note.

The crust serves very well in holding some hefty toppings while still managing to be light, but in doing so sacrifices some taste. Karin found the bones undesirable, but I was happy to scoop them up due to a residue of fantastic Cajun seasoning that must have made it's way from the shrimp. The only other 'deficiency' we could think of is a slight lack of sauce, although when you do taste it, it's light and sweet.

On the flip side, every topping is done perfectly: still-crisp bell peppers, juicy diced red peppers, juicy and spicy sausage medallions, fresh and tasty red onions, and perfectly cooked, wonderfully seasoned grilled shrimp. The taste of garlic was evident, but was mainly a sidekick to the spice of the other toppings. In fact, all the ingredients served as sidekicks - not a single thing seemed out of place on this pizza.

As a bonus, the remote location (Oak Hill) and decorations make this seem like a mysterious destination, especially at night. The overall vibe is that of a country roadhouse, which makes the gourmet pizza coming out of here even more delightful. It's worth the drive! (Because on the way back you'll have time to eat any pizza you carried out with you.)


Monday, June 14, 2010

Adventure #12: Saccone's

Saccone's Pizza bills itself as "Pizza With a Jersey Attitude" and it certainly is (as far as I can tell having never actually been to New Jersey). The people working there are super-cool, answered all of our questions, and were more than happy to geek out with Ian about cars. Their menu is filled with specials named after people in the family, "Mom & Dad's Special", "Steve's Special", etc. We got Cody's Special. I kindof want to meet Cody and give him a hug. The pizza comes with sweet sauce, pepperoni, sausage, meatball, and garlic.

Rewind: First we ordered garlic bread with cheese. It was excellent except for the cheese had a weird effect. Not that there was anything wrong with the cheese, it was more that the garlic bread on its own would have been spectacular and the cheese muted it. Also, we should have ordered a side of sauce to dip it in.

All of their pizzas are 18 inches (huge!) and they cook them in an awesome merry-go-round oven.

The best way I can think to talk about this pizza is one topping at a time:
  • Sweet sauce - I'm pretty sure at some point the meat/cheese grease melded with the sauce to create delicious moisture in this pizza (see the grease on the sides of the upskirt pic below!), so the sauce was not identifiable on its own, but that in no way detracted from the pizza.
  • Pepperoni - greasy, salty, delicious
  • Sausage & Meatballs - The sausage was flavorful and the added slices of meatballs meant that the meat texture was maintained in abundance in every single bite without being overwhelming.
  • Garlic - They used awesomely strong garlic cut up into little chunks. I think the grease infused it with superpowers.

Conclusion: Ian had a pizzagasm at this pizza and I thought it was excellent as well, definitely in the "will go there again" category.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Adventure #11: Oasis Cafe and Pizza

Hidden in a strip mall in a suburbish area off of Wells Branch, the Oasis is somewhat aptly named - just like in the desert, you could easily miss this hidden pocket. Karin heard of this place from a friend at work who lives in the area; fittingly, it seems that we were the only people in the place who didn't jog in, come to get a pick-up order, or otherwise seem intimate with their neighborhood pie shop. With only two tables, it's certainly not a place to bring a group or a date - but could you impress your beau or lass with the grub?

(Speaking of dining in: there was a terrible thunderstorm while we were waiting on our pizza. . .pouring rain, threats of hail, loud thunder. . .and all of a sudden the POWER GOES OUT! Would this be the end of our pizza adventure? At least a minute or two went by in anticipation, and then everything returned to normal. Unfortunately, we can't guarantee you such an exciting experience each time.)

We started with our usual bread product - this time a flatbread, served with feta, onions, and tomatoes. Note the presentation - every order here is assumed to be to-go. We weren't quick enough on the uptake to realize this and tell them we were dining in. *d'oh!* Presentation or not, this was some delicious bread, with a nice array of toppings to compliment it. We had to make a serious effort to save room for the 'za:

The Sahara, seen above seems to be a crowd favorite - several people ordered it while we ate. This bad boy comes with jalepenos, pepperoni and sausage. The breakdown:

taste of upper crust (bones)
amount and taste of sauce
ample jalapenos

Feel of crust (a little soggy/floppy)
Cheese (not that impressive)

Overall this was a good pizza that I would for sure eat over chain pizza if I lived in the neighborhood - it hits a good spot with the sauce and spicy jalapenos. Given the Greek nature of the cafe, it would be worth the effort to try one of the more Mediterranean pizzas on the menu, but as always, we never know until it's too late. Au revoir!


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Adventure #10: Mangia

There once was a coupon that made us break the following rules:

No chains

Ok, so just one rule.

But at least it's a local chain.
And don't think this will be a repeat thing,
Mr Gattis
I'm looking at you over there in the corner being local-ish.

On the bottom there's crust.We got the wheat.It tasted... wheaty.
Then there's an ocean of cheese
with flotsam of toppings

Rescued a few to confirm their existence
(and deliciousness).

On top of that, like a forcefield,
is a layer of dough(can't quite call it crust)
that could be mistaken for cheese by the indiscriminate.
On top of that is the sauce
being its saucy self, tomatoey and good.

The whole thing was...

it did its job.
and might hit a certain spot
directly opposite to the spot that's hit when
the crust is thin and the sauce scarce.