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Sep 17, 2004 11:28 AM

Fireside Pies

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Has anyone tried Fireside Pies??? How is it? What makes it different from the rest???

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  1. I thought I'd posted these here, but apparently not:
    Several new "gourmet" pizzerias have opened in my area in the past several months, including Stromboli Cafe (in partnership with Al Biernat), Taverna Pizzeria and Risottoria (from Alberto Lombardi), and most recently Fireside Pies (from Tristan Simon).

    Fireside Pies has been open for about a month in a small, awkwardly shaped space (something like a wood-slatted bunker) adjacent to Cuba Libre on Henderson. The interior looks great, with wood floors and paneling, low lighting, and an open kitchen (with pecan wood-fired pizza oven) surrounded by a convenient bar for take-out customers. Indoor seating is limited to about a half dozen booths along the front wall, with more seating available on the attractive, covered patio running along the side and back of the building.

    Since I ordered take-out, I didn't have much chance to observe service elements. However, I was promptly seated at the bar, asked if I wanted a drink while I waited, and offered a copy of the menu to take with me. I didn't have to wait long for the pizza (i.e., under 20 minutes), even though they were busy at the time. Pretty good service, for take-out.

    The menu is limited to (i) a few appetizers, salads, and sandwiches, (ii) the pizzas (one size only--10"-12", judging from the one I got), (iii) two desserts, and (iv) drinks, drinks, drinks (e.g., beer, frou-frou cocktails, martinis, wines, and a handful of ice cream floats). I ordered the "triple 'roni" pizza--pepperoni, Mozzarella Company mozzarella, fresh basil, and truffle oil. The hand-tossed crust was thin, light, and slightly crisp. A roasted-tomato sauce gave enough sweetness to balance the other toppings, but wasn't excessive. The MozzCo cheese was thick and delicious, though I would have liked it to be left in the oven a little longer, so it could get more toasted. I'm not sure what was "triple" about the pepperoni (nothing unusual about the quantity), but I was pleased to see them placed on top of the cheese rather than underneath. (Putting them underneath the cheese prevents the Maillard reaction from turning mere slices of sausage into the crispy, up-turned, grease-filled flavor buckets that make a good pepperoni pizza sublime.) The truffle oil was a nice addition, adding earthy undertones that I'm unaccustomed to with pizza. (I'll try that one at home.) In all, it was a very good pizza--among the better ones I've had in Dallas (which is, admittedly and unfortunately, not a great pizza town).

    I'm definitely interested in returning to try some of the other options, such as: Jimmy's spicy Italian sausage with MozzCo scamorza and roasted red onions; Peta Pie with Sonoma goat cheese, balsamic mustard portobellas, baby arugula, roasted red peppers, roasted pine nuts, and charred tomato vinaigrette; Fireside meatballs with roasted red onions and red peppers; "Piled" prosciutto with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, and black olives; et al. It's nice to see them using quality local ingredients, such as Lambert's cheeses and sausages from Jimmy's and Kuby's. Prices are on the high side, averaging around $13 per pizza. But, considering the good quality and that the pizza is enough to comfortably feed (without stuffing) two adults, I think they're reasonable. I'll update this after some more visits.
    Having been back to Fireside Pies a couple more times, I echo one of the complaints made by other reviewers. On some pizzas, the ingredients are presented in unwieldy chunks. It's not that they use too much of the ingredients; they just fail to cut them into manageable sizes. The sausage pizza, for instance, features a spicy sausage from Jimmy's. Instead of crumbling it or slicing it thin, you end up with inch-and-a-half long segments of the thick links--three or more bites worth, if you were to cut it up. This makes the pizza difficult to eat. But it also concentrates a flavor that needs to be more evenly distributed across the pizza. It's like getting a cheese pizza with a side of hot links, instead of a sausage pizza. That's something I'd like to see changed.