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East Side Pies, other attempts at NY pizza [AUS]

  • b

Having lived in NYC for 9 years, I keep getting my hopes up when I hear that someplace has authentic NY-style thin crust pizza. Unfortunately, while East Side Pies has its strong points, the wait is not over. First the good stuff. The sausage is house-made and I thought it was outstanding. The mushrooms on the mushroom pizza were very tasty, not just run of the mill button mushrooms. The place is not at all pretentious, is reasonably priced, and sells pizza by the slice. They used good quality mixed greens in the salad, though the vinagrette was oddly spicy. I thought the sauce was too thick in consistency and too much was used. The crust just wasn't right. It was crunchy, more like eating a cracker. (For reference, my idea pizza is Grimaldi's in Brooklyn.) A perfect crust would be slightly crisp on the outside, with a nice chew. I'm not sure why nobody can imitate this type of pizza in Austin, but it must be harder than it looks because there's plenty of bad pizza in NY. The cheese was regular (not fresh) mozarella, which also deviates from my ideal.

For the record, I've tried most of the other puported NY style pizza places in Austin.

Home Slice - Comparable to a typical NY corner pizza place, but the crust "handle" was too big and the quality of the mozarella too low to qualify as the high-end NY pizza it wants to be. I do appreciate that they "get" that less is more with pizza toppings. The margharita could have followed that philosophy more, though.

Brick Oven - They don't even have fresh mozarella. The crust is good, but a little too crunchy.

Saccones - I've got to try this place. It's on the other end of town, though.

Enoteca Vespaio - I think this was the closest I've had to the type of pizza I'm looking for. The crust was very close to being right.

East Side Pies
1401 B Rosewood Ave
512-524-0933

Brian

Link: http://www.eastsidepies.com

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  1. Hey - my folks are from NY, and my grandmother used to bring me pizza in her suitcase - individual slices foil wrapped. I pine for pizza, and the only pizza I have found "in town" is Saccones. Really worth the drive, and if you get a "half-baked" pie. you can finish it off to near perfection on a (big) stone in a hot hot hot oven. Gonna try Enoteca Vespaio... I hear such a variance of opinions on that place!

    1 Reply
    1. re: dee lannon
      c
      CattyinAustin

      Try Nikki's Pizza in the Dobie Mall. I'm not a New Yorker, so feel free to tell me I'm wrong...but it really is the closest thing that I've found to Pizza I had in NYC.

    2. Boy, do I miss Grimaldi’s. It’s going to be one of my first stops on my trip to Brooklyn this summer. And thanks for the heads-up about East Side Pies. I didn’t get worked up about it because I’ve been disappointed before—-with both Home Slice and Saccones. Below I included a link to my earlier message.

      I also really like the pizza at Vespaio, but that’s a whole different genre of pizza.

      Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

      1. I'm one year removed from my hometown so I am always on the lookout for "authentic" NY style pizza. We're actually lucky here in Austin I think, my brother lives in Dallas and the pizza up there is lacking.

        I live near Yaghi's and it's passable if a bit dry. Order extra sauce. I've been on a Reale's kick lately, it's probably my favorite pie in Austin these days. It actually reminds me of the thick neopolitan pies I grew up eating on Long Island. Saccone's is good too.

        You're not going to find anything to compare to Grimaldi's or even Lombardi's here. I lived near Arturo's in NY. I took some pics of a pie before we left and they still make my mouth water.

        I'll check out East Side Pies, thanks for the rec. Also, I like the original Brick Oven on 35th. Tastes like pizza Texas style, smoky crust like a good brisket.

        2 Replies
        1. re: nypb

          I just got a veggie slice at a lunch and it was rather dismal - limp crust, spinach had almost no taste, and the predominant flavor was from canned roasted peppers. I like Southside Pizza much better, have had it twice. Couldn't stop at two slices of the margherita plus artichokes.
          Your brother in Dallas should try Scalini's in beautiful downtown Lakewood, the pesto pizza w/ sundried tomatoes is excellent with a thin, crisp crust and strong, well-balanced flavors.

          1. re: 7870faubourg

            7870faubourg,

            You just had a veggie slice for lunch, but at which pizzeria? I can't tell from your post.

            Thanks,
            MPH

        2. Saccones is good by it is Jersey style. I think you will find what you are looking for at a place called "Reale's" Bob Reale (Dad) makes all the sauces, dough, canoli cream, etc. Gino (son) runs the place most of the time, Tina (daughter) waits tables and is the hottest little thing. anyway its in the Anderson mill shopping center, Anderson mill Rd. at 183 N

          1. I know this is a really old thread, but FYI on why pizza is only good in New York (I'm a born and raised Manhattan native BTW). It's the water. Not sure exactly like, the chemistry or exact mineral compounds, but it's the water that makes great pizza crust, bagels, and soft pretzels (you know, hot pretzels from the stands?) It's why in Florida (lot's of retired NY Jews) some places will ship in water from New York to make bagels. Note: this could be a total urban legend and I haven't bothered to verify it, but it does make sense, right?

            2 Replies
            1. re: eliza0124

              I've heard that before, but it has to be a myth. I think the more likely culprit, which separates the good from the great even in NYC, is the coal oven.

              1. re: Brian Lindauer

                Maybe i'm ignorant...I'm no NY pizza expert but when i was in NYC i ate a crapload of cheese pizza since there's a shortage of veggie options when it comes to NYC street food. The first time I tried Slices and Ices on Guadalupe it tasted just like NY pizza to me. I know the owner of the place is a new yorker, and I definitely get craving for their huge, floppy, (yet crisp on the bottom) pizza pie slices. Plus a dr. pepper mixed w/ some cherry "ice" w/my pizza is so perfect on a summer day.

            2. When did East Side Pies ever claim to offer NY-style pizza? I can't remember a time they promoted themselves like that. With Austin used to such junk for pizza, everybody started a craze to search for somewhere that could offer true NY pizza. It's a bit ridiculous. Pizza should be taken for what it is. Is East Side Pie pizza NY pizza? No, but it's damn good.

              Most pizza commentary around town is unrealistic, and based on romantic conceptions of NY pizza. Have you had NY pizza recently? I admit, when NY pizza is good, it's the best, and I have to agree that Brooklyn is tops. But, there is so much cruddy pizza on the streets in NY, even if the bottom-shelf on a NYC street is better than just about anything here. Of course, a lot of the best pizza in NY is outside the city.

              East side pie tastes great, bottom line.

              1. also, how come frank and angies seems to be nowhere on anyone's radar? they have great pizza.

                4 Replies
                1. re: styvessant

                  "there is so much cruddy pizza on the streets in NY, even if the bottom-shelf on a NYC street is better than just about anything here."

                  Interesting that you say this. I was in Brooklyn a couple of weeks ago, and in response to a query about where to get good NY style pizza, my host said pretty much the same thing. He pointed out that there are places to get great pizza (e.g., Grimaldi's), but that you need only to throw a stick in the air to find mediocre to truly awful pies in the city. His impressions kind of led me to believe that there is an evasive NY pizza archetype that in some ways mirrors the lack of truly outstanding BBQ places in Austin.

                  On the topic of other noticeably absent joints, I can't even find a thread that mentions Pizza Nizza. Not remotely NY style, but I remember eating there quite often when they were on Barton Springs, and I'm not sure I ever had a bad pizza. Anyone know what their delivery area is now that they've relocated to Bee Caves?

                  1. re: styvessant

                    Could be Frank & Angie's shared ownership with Hut's. That has been enough to bias me against it, not having tried it.

                    Maybe you can describe what it is you like about the pizzas at East Side Pies and Frank & Angie's. Tastes vary, and it would help others to understand what "damn good" and "great" mean to you.

                    I only want to eat food that is delicious to me. My ideal is pretty close to Grimaldi's in Brooklyn, so I've pretty much sworn off pizza in Austin. I'd be happy to discover a great new place with that kind of pizza. I'll still order pizza at Vespaio from time to time, but that's a whole different style of pizza. It would be wonderful to discover deliciousness in other styles, too.

                    This thread covers much of the recent discussion on pizza: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386676

                    1. re: Knoblauch

                      Twill, how would you describe the pizza at Pizza Nizza? I stopped by a branch once, but the first impression wasn’t prepossessing.

                      And Knoblauch, I believe you once pointed out that NYC probably has more bad pizza restaurants than Austin has total restaurants, just do to its larger size. Of course, that doesn't make Austin's bad pizza taste any better. I’m not on this board to be “realistic,” if that means settling for mediocre chow. We chowhounds are all about deliciousness, which, of course, means different things to different people.

                      The best way to help fellow ‘hounds make every bite count is to share as much information as possible about what we love and why. Every good, detailed tip is helpful to someone.

                      1. re: MPH

                        I liked your earlier post. Good points. I think I was approaching the idea of NY-style pizza or Texas BBQ from a philosophical perspective based on what my friend had allowed that wasn't entirely well thought out. I'll try to gather my thoughts and respond.

                        As far as Pizza Nizza goes, I can only base my opinion on distant memories which aren't always reliable. I just remember that during the period I was eating their pies, I don't remember having bad pizza (of course, I received a holiday card every year which really impressed me, and, I'm sure, affects my assessment of the experience, overall). I do remember fresh ingredients and a passable to good crust with a decent bianca and pretty good spicy marinara...but maybe it's all in context to my sole experience with really bad pizza in ATX and East Texas, which probably explains alot.

                  2. I agree about the "New York-ness" of the good pizza in Austin--it's gonna be hard to find. That said, Salvation Pizza makes a fine pie, as does Rounders. I find the atmosphere annoying, but if you get the right toppings on the pie, I've had damn good pizza at Brick Oven. I think Eastside Pies has the best pizza in town but I rarely get the slices unless I see them take them out of the oven, I like to get a whole pie with goat cheese, basil, and roasted red peppers. If you ever find yourself in Marfa go to The Pizza Foundation. That's the best pizza I have ever had outside of the best NY pizza, but like some other reviewers here, I've also had my fair share of disturbingly mediocre NY slices.

                    1. I agree with the Rouunders rec. I'm not going to say it is great or amazing, but I will say it is the most 'NY style' I've had here. My favorite in NYC was Grimaldis for real coal oven pizza. Joe's in the East Village is my favorite slice...Ask for it well done and don't get more than one or two toppings. As I mentioned in a very recent post, too many toppings automatically disqualifies a pie from being NY style IMHO...

                      1. I'm friends with one of the owners of East Side, and I agree, the crust is crap. My mother is an Italian from Chicago, and I'm a chef-turned-organic farmer, and I know pizza. The rest of their food is hit and miss, but that just might be me, I'm VERY picky when it comes to my food, especially pizza. Just had an email conversation with the CEO of Austin's Pizza about their consistently burned crust, tasting of burned cornmeal. He assured me that this wasn't usually the case, but I don't really believe him, since it's been that way every single time I've eaten there. I'll give them one more try, but after that, I'm sticking to Mangia.

                        1. I just tried Home Slice for the first time yesterday, and I thought itwas "pretty good". Like others have stated, 1) I'm not sure it is fair to ask Austin to produce "NY Pizza"...2) I'm not sure this "Eden" of great pizza exists, even in New York.

                          In any case Home Slice does a nice job of fitting my requirements for good, New York STYLE pizza: Thin crust with a slightly crisp bottom and a nice "chew" to it; thin layer of tomato sauce seasoned with oregano; proportionally applied toppings. I agree that ordering a New York STYLE pizza with 7 toppings defeats the purpose - go get Pizza Hut...I'd love to have higher quality (even fresh) Mozarella, but that is not a requirement for me.

                          I'd like to try Saccones and Mangia, as they seem to have a decen reputation from 'hounds I respect.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Bababooey

                            For anyone who may have missed earlier discussion on the pizza at Home Slice, here are a couple of links:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/92997

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/92874

                            A quick aside: As a native Texan who lived for many years in the Northeast, I couldn’t help but notice the interesting thread about Texas-style barbecue on the Manhattan board. They’re comparing what they’re getting there to what you could get right here in central Texas:

                            http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413253

                            I bring this up because it’s a similar kind of debate to this one. A poster above said that since “New-York-style” was never claimed by East Side Pies, it wasn’t fair to judge them on those terms: “When did East Side Pies ever claim to offer NY-style pizza?” Since “authentic NY-style” is claimed by Home Slice Pizza (http://www.homeslicepizza.com/ ), they seem to have set the terms for how their pizza should be judged.

                            It also just goes to show you that on all the regional boards, chowhounds write about their search for the best local versions of everything, from artisan chocolate to New-York-style pizza to Texas-style or Memphis-style barbecue to fois gras to Montreal bagels to Chicago hot dogs to French bakeries and so on. Everyone has different expectations and experiences, of course. In my opinion, that’s to the benefit of us all.

                            1. re: Bababooey

                              I'd rather not start a whole new thread to mention this but I had Mangia yesterday at the Guad location and it was a mighty disappointment, at least the thin crust offering.
                              After being assured that the wheat crust was just as tasty and crispy as the white we went ahead and tried it. No rise, no bubbles, no yeast, no crunch, appeared to be previously frozen (serrated texture on edge?), undercooked. Kind of like a flavorless soft gingerbread cookie. Overpriced and the normal crust was only marginally better.
                              I don't expect everyone to offer a fresch handtossed crust, but when a sit down restaurant can't even compete with Papa Johns etc you might want to examine your priorities or change your name to something appropriate, say Chotchkie's? Only worse pie I can think of might be Gatti's
                              Decent salad though.