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Jun 17, 2011 05:54 AM

Mexican Pizza?

A growing Mexican pizza trend in Astoria recently captured my attention.

I've long been curious about El Molino on Steinway in Astoria, which claims to be a "Mexican Grill, Pizzeria & Boulangerie." But on their menu, it looks like the pizzas are the usual American fare, though perhaps a notch above the usual 'hood pizzas in creativity: Margherita, Hawaiian Style, Chicken & Broccoli, Vegetarian, etc.

But I wonder if they're kicking things up a notch with some non-traditional components, toppings, etc.? (Much like the Punjabi Pizza I had from an Indian-run Pizzeria in Montreal last summer -- laden with garlic, ginger, onions, tomatoes and hot green chlis -- amazing!) Anybody have first-hand knowledge of El Molino's pizza?

About that trend -- I noticed there's another Mexican/Pizza place about to open on Bway in Astoria and, by chance, a menu for another Astoria restaurant, Fresco Tortillas, appeared under my door yesterday with an entire section dedicated to "Mexican Pizza". These "pizzas" are definitely straying from typical pizza territory into all out Tex-Mex fare: they are "served with black beans between 2 eight-inch fried flour tortillas topped with melted cheese, salsa, jalapenos and tomatoes" and additional topping options include chorizo, steak, shrimp, chicken & steak, veggies, and some combo of ground beef that is mysteriously titled "Mexican Pizza," among a few others.

Is this just another fusiony, hyper junk-food concoction (Tex-Mex vs. Pizza!! -- much like Giant Squid vs. Killer Shark on SyFy...?) or is there more to Mexican Pizza?

El Molino
32-41 Steinway St, Queens, NY 11103

Fresco Tortillas
37-08 30th Ave, Queens, NY 11103

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  1. Hi CitySpoonful,

    I hope you're right with the latter because truly Mexican pizza sounds interesting and potentially quite tasty.

    Let's hope it's not "Tex-Mex" though. My friends who grew up in and around the Austin area absolutely LOVE to take pizza slices and pour RANCH DRESSING over them as a condiment.

    In their words, "It's great." Hmm.....


    Glendale is hungry...

    8 Replies
    1. re: Glendale is hungry

      I'm with you, Glandale Is Hungry. Ranch dressing should not be combined with pizza, tex-mex or any other hybrid of the two (or perhaps at all...period!).

      I'll try to check out these Mex Pizzas and report back. If anyone else knows about other Mex Pizza options, please do share!

      1. re: CitySpoonful

        I dunno. Isn't ranch dressing good on just about anything?

        1. re: missmasala

          Hi missmasala,

          As a result of my Texan friends' suggestions, I actually have tried ranch dressing on pizza. The result is not inedible. However, the dressing tends to overwhelm everything else. Thus, it begs the question, "Why not just put ranch dressing on toast?"

          I truly am open to reimagining old classics into new inventions:

          But in this instance, it is my opinion that ranch dressing doesn't add—it dominates. Ranch dressing, bottled and likely crammed with all sorts of chemical flavor enhancers, just plays dirty.

          But check it out and see what you think. We all have our guilty pleasures (brown sugar pop tarts!).


          Glendale is hungry...

          1. re: Glendale is hungry

            perhaps you're right. I was thinking more along the lines of a white pizza a la artichoke in manhattan. Their artichoke slice is a guilty pleasure the way I would imagine a white pizza slathered in ranch dressing to be. Good pizza, no. but sometimes it might hit the spot.
            However, regular, tomato-sauced pizza with ranch doesn't actually sound all that good.
            And, city spoonful, neither does ketchup on pizza. But i guess I won't knock it til I've tried it.
            And porkchop, never heard that joke, but it's kinda funny.

            1. re: missmasala

              Miss Masala, Definitely try ketchup on pizza! I thought it looked gross until I had it at a Pizza Hut in Bangalore. Totally works.

              1. re: CitySpoonful

                Okay City Spoonful,

                Ketchup AND Pizza Hut in Bangalore India—I WILL have nightmares when I go to sleep this evening.


                Glendale is horrified...

          2. re: missmasala

            Not just a Texas phenomenon really, I think you'll find it popular among pimply teens most anywhere. Pizza and ranch makes a nice pairing with Mountain Dew: Code Red and a night of "Call of Duty."

            Reminds me of the old joke: how do you get a redneck to suck your ____? Dip it in ranch....

      2. "...they are "served with black beans between 2 eight-inch fried flour tortillas topped with melted cheese, salsa, jalapenos and tomatoes" and additional topping options include chorizo, steak, shrimp, chicken & steak, veggies, and some combo of ground beef that is mysteriously titled "Mexican Pizza," among a few others."

        That sounds an awful lot like a gringo quesadilla. Also, aren't these Fresco Tortilla joints all Chinese-owned? They popped up all over NYC in the 90s, but I haven't paid much attention to them, mostly because they suck, and since the 90s, it's possible to get good Mexican food in a lot of places. Now, if you're looking for a Mexican-owned pizza place that offers traditional Mexican food along with pizza, there are some around Woodside/Jackson Heights/Corona, like Thomas Pizza on Roosevelt near 69th.

        3 Replies
        1. re: E Eto

          You're right, E Eto, it definitely has a gringo, TexMex ring to it. :)

          And, Miss Masala -- regarding non-traditional pizza toppings -- I'm a huge fan of putting ketchup on pizza. Is that better or worse than Ranch dressing? Who knows...

          Does Thomas Pizza in Jax Heights jazz up their pizza with any Mexican touches? I could go for some salsa verde or queso fresco on a pizza, and I'm not afraid to say it!

          Thomas Pizza
          76-23 37th Ave, Queens, NY 11372

          1. re: CitySpoonful

            The pizza at Thomas is fairly straightforward NY style. Never seen Mexican ingredients for toppings, but I'm sure you can ask, since they have all the ingredients handy.

            Does Pizza Hut still offer a Mexican pizza? I remember those from high school, but that was decades ago in CA.

            1. re: E Eto

              As for Fresco Tortilla's Mexican Pizza, Fresco Tortilla is a Chinese Tex-Mex place. I've ordered from the one that was in Jackson Heights, and I occasionally got the Mexican Pizza, but it was definitely a guilty pleasure that must have reminded me of fast food refried beans from my So Cal childhood. It is about the fattiest thing one could get. It's a cross between a tostada without veggies to speak of and a quesadilla (refried beans and melted cheese between two fried tortillas).

              I have on occasion had pretty good Mexican pizza from Broadway Bakery on 82nd and Roosevelt. It has ground beef, tomatoes, and jalapeños. There are many branches, but I don't know if they have Mexican pizza.

              Broadway Bakery
              82-01 Roosevelt Ave, Queens, NY 11372

        2. I've had the indignity of trying both of these places off seamless. I can echo what others have said and say that neither of these places do anything creative or good. Fresco Tortillas is Chinese owned "Tex-Mex" (not really Tex-Mex, but that seems to the fallback term for any gringofied Mexican food of which one does not approve, and I do not approve) at its worst.

          To speak more generally of mexican pizzas, I would say two things. First, there is a fairly popular Cal-Mex dish called the "Mexican Pizza" which is a fried, usually flour tortilla, sort of like a tostada, slathered with beans, cheese, and sundry other toppings. You can get a petite version at any full menu Taco Bell.

          As for pizza in Mexico, it might upset the romantic idea some people have of Mexican cuisine, but Papa John's and Domino's are both very popular. In my very Mexican hometown in California Domino's with pepperoni and jalapeno was as Mexican as any Grandma's mole.

          Fresco Tortillas
          110-70 Queens Blvd, Queens, NY 11375

          2 Replies
          1. re: Mr Porkchop

            So there was no doctoring of pizza toppings in your Cal-Mex hometown -- the way pizza toppings at Pizza Huts in, say, India are doctored to appeal to the Indian palate (e.g., paneer instead of mozzarella; the addition of green chilis, garlic, etc.) -- or in England, where Dominos offers corn, tuna and prawns as toppings? And here I was having visions of nopales-topped pizzas laced with salsa verde and queso fresco....

            1. re: CitySpoonful

              Beyond jalapeno, hot sauce, and yes, ranch, not really. I'd say the hawaiian pizza, in my experience, tends be more popular among latinos as well. Maybe the pineapple and pork combo evokes some cultural memory of al pastor. I wont say there's absolutely not some amazing form of mexican fusion pizza out there somehwere (perhaps some place in Oaxaca that has a chapulines as a topping) but in my fairly extensive travels in Mexico, I've not seen anything widespread. Though tlyudas are sometimes analogized as "mexican pizza," so there's that:

              After my previous post I remembered how Texas, and a few other states now, actually have their own Mexican and latino focused pizza chain, "Pizza Patron." They got in hot water a few years ago for advertizing that they accept Mexican pesos as payment. The toppings are pretty standard, though they do have a chorizo option:

          2. at a bus stop along the coast of Guerrero, I found vendors offering "mexican pizza" and they were sopes!

            Until recently most pizzas outside of the coastal Italian resorts ( vallarta, escondido, huatulco) were from Domino's or Pizza Hut...they offer jalapenos and chorizo as toppings...and pizza in Mexico is eaten with ketchup, hot sauce & salsa maggi.
            I did go to the pizzeria in Puebla that has chicken mole pizza & huitlacoche pizza...let's start that trend in nyc!

            1 Reply
            1. re: nychilanga

              Indeed, NYC needs some of this!!! Or is anything like this already out there? Has anyone encountered huitlacoche pizza??

              PS: In India pizza is also eaten with ketchup and hot red pepper flakes, and the combination is pretty irresistibly tasty.

            2. I guess "Mexican pizza" is what people say it is. Taco Bell has it's version which sounds similar to the one you described between tortillas. A pizza resto near me in LA makes a Mexican pizza on a conventional pizza dough topped with taco meat, black olives, black beans, a Ranchero style sauce and queso fresco. A local chain makes theirs with a flat burrito-size whole wheat tortilla, several choices of toppings (grilled veggies, four cheeses, grilled chicken, grilled steak, grilled shrimp), cilantro and a sour cream-based crema.

              Since I don't believe there's any such thing as an authentic Mexican pizza, I guess that's pretty much license to make it up as you go along.