Austin thin-crust pizza round-up

As the New Girl in town, I’ve been ordering a lot of pizza. I’m busy setting up a new apartment, trying to find a job, and just can’t be arsed to cook sometimes between the laundry and the blogging and the trying to find a decent damn dollar store where stuff actually costs only one dollar. I’m sure this happens to everyone. (Maybe not the dollar store thing.) Of course, being the New Girl, I also have no idea which places are good for delivery-style pizza. And, man, can this be a problem when it shows up at my door looking all sorry and smushed.

"Home Slice of My Heart" (photo by Flickr user FilmNut)

I’ve tried my share of the U.S. chains over the years, and while I seemed to recall Papa John’s being pretty good back in the days when I lived at my parents’ place and we actually had to pull a Seinfeld-esque scam to get them to deliver to us (the cut-off for delivery to our area was literally the house next door; we would give their address and sit in the driveway with the cash), it seems their wares haven’t withstood the test of time. Either that or I’m getting picky in my old age, but I’d like to think a cardboard-like crust has never qualified as a pizza.

Still, Papa’s got locations everywhere and you can order online, which is something a phone-phobic weirdo like me can appreciate. As some say, bad pizza’s like sex: even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.

I don’t typically share that opinion, however—not outside of NYC, anyway—so I’ve been on the hunt for a more satisfying pie. I gave Gatti’s a try, but was similarly disappointed in their thin crust. Their toppings, however, delighted me more than Papa John’s, and you can also order online. (Seems to be a trend here in town, which I applaud. Now if they’d just take Paypal…) Smoked provolone cheese on a pizza? Nice touch, boys. You’ve got goombatz.

After I got a hot tip from my banker, I hit up Austin’s Pizza. Of the thin-crust pizzerias in town, so far I’ve enjoyed Austin’s the most. Now, you can order online here, but it seems my credit card has expired (this after my fuggin’ bank just sent me a replacement card a month ago; nice job, maroons!), so I had to do it the old-fashioned way and call. The gal I spoke to was friendly and polite and gave me the same price they quoted me online, which includes a $2 delivery fee. I’ve noticed most of the joints around here have this fee, which ranges from about two to four bucks a pie, and it makes me wonder: does this mean I should leave out the tip for the delivery guy? Or is this just another way to jack up the price?

Anyway, Austin’s was smooth. You can get a small or a large (10 or 14″), build your own or pick from some of their tried-and-true selections. The Californian with grilled chicken, spinach, Roma tomatoes, red onions, garlic and cheddar cheese was calling my name, but I ultimately opted for a DIY mushroom + “breakfast bacon” (as opposed to “Canadian bacon”—which Canadians actually refer to as “back bacon”) + Jack cheddar cheese/mozzarella concoction that hit the spot. Nice thin crust, not at all cardboard-y (score!), plenty of cheese, salty bacon, and decent mushroom spread. Could’ve used a bit more from the topping distribution (I find Austin pizzerias to be a bit chintzy on the toppings in general), but it was definitely the tastiest thin-crust pie I’ve had thus far.

Oh: I was also terribly tempted to throw in one of their Butter’s Brownies, described as “A locally-made chocolate chip square of heaven, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting the Donna Hicken Foundation for women living with breast cancer, and the Mayo Clinic.” I mean, chocolate heaven AND donating to breast cancer? That’s hot! Alas, I did not give into this temptation, but perhaps next time. I do love me some brownies.

Giordano's: the One True Chicago Deep-Dish pizza!

I should add that I’ve also tried Conan’s Pizza, but I’m waiting on another suggestion from the Foodie Banker to compare and contrast their “Chicago style” with another in town. As a born-‘n’-raised Chicagoan (okay, okay: I’m really from the western suburbs, but eff off, willya?), I’ve got hometown pride about the proper way to build an authentic Chicago deep-dish pizza. And obviously, Giordano’s is the One True Chicago Deep-Dish, but since they have yet to set up shop here in Austin, I’m giving the locals a chance to prove themselves.

So, any suggestions for a worthy pie—deep-dish or thin-crust? Knock my socks off!

7 responses to “Austin thin-crust pizza round-up

  1. Oh I remember Giordano’s when I live in Chicago. AWESOME, AWESOME pizza. Only been to Corpus Christie, San-Anton and Laredo so no tips on Austin Pizza. But when I was in Texas I hitting every BBQ Pit I could find so pizza took to the backburner :o)

    Papa John’s was exemplary of American non-chanllence towards food. Cheap should never win over Quality. Papa John’s is horrible crap. But then I avoid large scale franchises that have mechanically produced food at much as I possibly can as a rule.

  2. True, Texas is definitely more known for the BBQ than for the pizza, but that’s still no excuse for tolerating shoddy pizza!

    Papa John’s is pretty terrible. I still think the worst American chain, however, is Domino’s.

    • Agreed Domino’s has to be the most execrable pizza on earth. Though the McCain mini-pizzas are a very close second, horrible even for HS Cafeteria standards.

  3. You’ve already found what I consider to be the best: Austin’s Pizza. It does have some companions on the pedestal, though, depending on what you’re looking for.

    Double Dave’s has mediocre to decent pizza, and the lunch buffet is slightly higher quality than Gatti’s. Their pepperoni rolls are like crack.

    Red Brick is a pretty new chain, and it shows most when they’re busy; every location I’ve been to is understaffed. The pizza’s small, but ingredients are high quality, and when I’ve gone during off-peak times, extra care has been made not just in assembly, but presentation.

    Home Slice has few frills, but you definitely get plenty for the price. They’ll sell you a slice at the walk-up counter, or you can wait in line for at least 45 minutes to sit inside. I’ve never seen a short line there, even when it’s not a regular meal time.

    Lastly, Mangia – I’ve had varied experiences with the thin crust ranging from mouth-wateringly amazing to tough and dry. Aside: I have yet to try the Chicago deep stuffed pie – partly because it *looks* as good as Giordano’s (lived in Chicago for 2 years), and I’m afraid that it will/won’t compete.

  4. Steve: Pepperoni rolls like crack, you say? I may have to check that out!

    Mangia was also recommended to me, and I think I may have to stop by to eat in and see how they fare. I noticed they also had a (rather ambitious) Cobb Salad on their menu, which could indicate good things or a real disaster waiting to happen.

  5. Thank YOu for posting this helpful Information about “Austin thin-crust pizza round-up”. I like it. just keep on posting. :)

  6. You should always tip the pizza guy. Most of the delivery fee doesn’t even go to them. Ten percent is the standard, I think. A little more if he’s cute.

    Oh, and the garlic knots at Rounders on west 6th street are also like crack.

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