Friday, August 28, 2009

2009 Bite Me Summer Road Trip *Austin*

Austin Pizza Toss Off

This was going to be the wrap up for the 2009 Bite Me Summer Road Trip in Austin and I felt you couldn’t do it without digging into some pizza. It’s like the top of the food pyramid for college students. When you come to Austin you can find pizza on almost every corner. This probably had to be the hardest contest of all. I have been to many pizzerias in Austin and I like so many of them but I could only choose three. We hit the streets of Austin and set out to find the best pizza in town in the Austin Pizza Toss Off.
Usually with Bite Me Houston I don’t pick chains but there is always a first for everything. I went with this particular pizzeria because of their hard work of promoting themselves online. I have heard many great things about them and I will admit I was interested to see what their Chicago style pizza was all about so I picked Mangia’s. With five locations in and around Austin plus a boat and a location the airport Mangia is pushing their piping pies across the city. You can’t come into Mangia and not try their Chicago Stuffed Pizza. So I did just that. I went with a pepperoni stuffed pizza and prepared myself. Could Chicago be the king of pies in Austin? At first glance I only notice a single slice of pepperoni swimming in a bread bowl of sauce. As you open box a waft hits your nose that makes you think of a sauce prepared by Chef Boyardee. I was beginning to wonder where the rest of the toppings were. As you pick up a slice you find that this is a pizza made upside down. With the toppings at the base covered in fresh mozzarella cheese and a hefty serving of sauce is pour over top. Granted this was a personal pizza it seemed a little flat. I felt that they could have beefed this pizza up a little. This was no thicker than a pan pizza with an inch high crust. While the bread was baked perfectly making it soft and chewy the sauce seemed a little sour. The cheese was evenly melted and delicious as was the pepperoni but the sauce kept kicking this pizza down. I think maybe if they used less sauce and more toppings this pizza would have had more flair. I’m not saying this pizza was awful but I am not a big fan of Chef Boyardee products and the sauce from Mangia kept making me think of SpaghettiO’s. This wasn’t the best experience but I wasn’t worried, I had two more pizzerias to go.
Recently when visiting Austin I started explore the outside regions of the downtown area. By accident one night I crossed over the Congress bat bridge and headed south. I didn’t know where I was going but I knew it was getting late and I was hungry. After a long night or bar hopping nothing sounds better then great pizza. While there are a few really great spots on 6th St. I wanted to beat the crowds and find something a little lower key. Cruising down Congress I saw a red lit building up ahead the seemed to draw me in like a moth to light. From the outside this place just screams Austin. This is how Home Slice Pie became a great contender for the toss off. Home Slice is indoor/outdoor pizzeria. You can either dine in our walk up to the front of the building to order a slice to go. From the line forming outside something tells me I’m in for a great treat. I place my order and give them my name. While waiting outside I take in the Bohemian charm of South Congress. Within minutes my name is called and I pick up my giant slices of pizza. Nothing beats a long night of drinking and ending it with eating fresh pizza on a curb in Austin. Just looking at the pizza my mouth began to water. It was baked perfectly and they were very generous with the toppings. I like a pizza where you get toppings in every bite. The pizza was so hot and I kept burning my mouth but I couldn’t wait for it to cool down because it was so delicious. The sauce to topping ratio was perfect. The bread was crunchy yet still nice and chewy and the sauce was robust and flavorful. Even though I went with pepperoni it wasn’t overly greasy. I was really enjoying this pie and I knew that if the next location was as good then I was going to have a hard decision to make. Before taking the drive back to the hotel I ordered another slice to carry me over. I had another full day of food ahead of me but I couldn’t get enough of this pizza.
As the sun comes up on the last day in Austin the thought of eating is the last thing on my mind. For the last few days I have been eating barbeque, cupcakes and pizza. I had only one more location to go and then I would never have to look at another slice of pizza again, or for at least a week. The night prior on south Congress I saw a pizzeria that for some reason caught my eye. I decided to take the drive back down during the day to see the sights. Southside Flying Pizza is a little building on Congress that is literally hand tossing the dough. As you walk inside to order the pizza is being prepared before your eyes. The soft dough is tossed in the air as it is prepared to be placed in the authentic brick oven. With the summer hear coming through the windows and the brick oven baking pizza this small littler pizzeria can get a little warm. It takes a little longer her to get your pizza here but if you are a fan of true brick oven pizza as I am then you know the outcome is always worth the wait. When we finally get our pizza we kind of sit back to behold this baked beauty. Melted mozzarella cheese adorned with succulent pepperoni and fresh mushrooms make this pizza shine. The crust was toasted to a perfect brown crunchy texture while still chewy inside. The sauce was mellow and tasted very fresh. I could taste seasoning in the dough that made this pizza pop. I couldn’t find anything to complain about. While these weren’t the biggest slices they made up for it in flavor. My mouth waters just reminiscing about it and I now had to come to some sort of conclusion on who was tossing up the best pizza in Austin. Could it be the Chicago style stuffed pizza, the late night bite or the acrobatic display of pizza tossing that would win this challenge? Only time and my stomach could tell.
After a weekend of chowing down on pizza I had a hard call to make. I visited three different spots in Austin and they were all pretty good but this was a challenge. I had to pick the best out of the three and it wasn’t going to be easy. They all had things I loved about them. Mangia had that thick crust that I love, Home Slice had the great toppings and Southside Flying Pizza has that brick oven fresh taste. Really they were all winners in my book but when I had to pick the best of the best I had to go with Southside Flying Pizza. While it wasn’t the biggest slice or the thickest crust they overall flavor and texture is what took the cut for me. Everything about this pizza was fresh and delicious. While it takes a little longer to get your pizza here it shows that good things come to those who wait. Mangia could have done so much in this competition if it wasn’t for their sauce. Home Slice was a very close winner. There is nothing about this place that I didn’t like and it still remains a big favorite of mine but Southside Flying Pie brought everything out and that’s why they have taken the title for the Austin Pizza Toss Off. Great work guys!

Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza
8012 Mesa Dr
Austin, TX 78731
(512) 349-2126
Home Slice Pizza
1415 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704-2434
(512) 444-7437
Southside Flying Pizza
2206 S Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704-4319
(512) 442-4246

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