This was the week for Italian food in Houston restaurant reviews, with the Chronicle's Alison Cook awarding "??" to the masters of char and the "magnificent beast of a wood-burning oven" at current Heat Mapper Pizaro's Pizza.
Cook finds Pizaro's churns out "currently the best crust in town," in part due to the "900-degree fire of a minor sun" inside the oven, which is direct from the mothership, aka, Naples, Italy. The heat helps make the pizza's foundation a "marvel of stretch and chew and softness and blistery carbon."
Using the Margherita pizza as her "baseline," Cook thinks it's "an unfailing marvel: daubed with a bright sauce of crushed San Marzano tomatoes," making it "fresh-tasting and elemental."
The only pie that had her "on the fence" was something named the Sweet Pea, which "tasted like dessert" (unintentionally), but nevertheless she ended up "devouring every last piece." Apparently, that's what happens when a critic pays a visit to the restaurant "making the best pizza pies in town."
Meanwhile, Houston Press critic, Katharine Shilcutt, is also enamored with a pizza and its "old brick oven" at Arturo Boada Cuisine in Memorial. Since we're talking crusts today, Shilcutt finds Boada's "chewy" and "baked until it barely blisters," all good things which elevates "a simple margherita pizza."
She also praises the tapas here, with dishes like camarones henesy en hamaca; shrimp and other stuff in a "rich, almost velvety sauce," that "works on every level."
Speaking highly of the "mussels that come sautéed in a tomatillo-jalapeño sauce," "a carnitas pizza," and papas bravas with a "signature Boada twist," she finds that another evening brings dishes that are "inoffensive but unremarkable."
The whole experience is a "lesson to stick to the tapas side of the menu" as well as "those lovely, floury, thin-crust pizzas," of which there are too few in town. However those we do have "should be celebrated," which shouldn't be a problem after this week's major reviews.
· Finding Houston's Upper Crust Pizza at Pizaro's [29-95]
· He's Still Got It [Houston Press]
· All Week in Reviews on Eater Houston [EHOU]
Photo: Owner Bill Hutchinson at his now famous pizza oven. [Pizaro's/Facebook]