When I first came to Dallas I was looking for a delivery option in Oak Lawn. I needed a quick meal amongst a sea of unpacked boxes. Someone suggested Zini's over Twitter, so I tried it.
I'll hold off on forming my official position on that local delivery chain, but for that night at least, I was very concerned about the state of pizza in Dallas.
Fast forward a few weeks. I was wandering the streets of Deep Ellum and saw a sign displaying an image just like the one in this post. It's the registered trademark of the Associazione Vera Pizza Napolentana -- or, put more simply, the international symbol for pizza that doesn't suck. I threw open the the door of Cane Rosso and walked right in.
Jay Jerrier, the stocky guy manning the oven most nights, hasn't been short on press. D magazine recently proclaimed his pie Dallas' best. The Observer showered praise on their more simple pizzas back in May.
And people are listening. On the Friday night I visited, the place was so packed I felt lucky to nab a single seat alone at the end of the bar. The serpentine cement structure was lined with couples on dates, and I pegged each of them easily, watching their body language while I sipped my wine and waited for my order.
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That couple there? Surely still getting to know each other. They daintily wielded knives and forks to eat their precious pie. Not at all like the next couple down, at the height of their relationship, or at least having a great night. They ate with their hands and wore smiles that consumed their faces. Unlike the couple at the far end of the bar: The woman in that pair slowly pushed arugula around her plate while her dude watched baseball. Something's wrong there.
Jay's pizza was good. He trained with the Associazione Vera Pizza Napolentana and he still follows the rules reasonably well. Pliable thin crust, bursting with blistered bubbles topped with Italian tomatoes and good mozzarella. My only complaint: His cooks were a little enthusiastic with their toppings. Neapolitan pizza is all about the crust, and highly refined flour can make for a soggy center.
For reference, you could check out that "focaccia" which wasn't really focaccia at all, but who cares? The un-topped pizza rounds blew up like footballs before the wait staff adorned them with olive oil -- a perfect celebration of delicious crust.
Dallas, it seems, has a little bit of a pizza scene after all. I walked through Eno's this weekend, and their pie looked worth a try. Then, sitting on my balcony just a few nights ago, I saw a familiar name. Grimaldi's? In Dallas? Can this be? Someone walked down my sidewalk with a delivery box that reminded me of my time in New York. I almost offered him cash for it.