Each week the Dude Food guys assess the 'masculinity' of Dallas area dives. The more fried meat and junk on the walls, the better the rating...
2820 N. Henderson Ave.
Some people--including the person who wrote the Dallas Observer's blurb about the joint in 2004--claim that Fireside Pies has the best pizza in Dallas. Those people are clearly not dudes.
Granted, Fireside Pies has some pretty good pizza. It might even make a case for "Best Pizza With All Kinds Of Weird Shit On It, Like Goat Cheese And Pinon Nuts, Whatever The Hell A Pinon Nut Is." (Take that, California Pizza Kitchen.) But however good the pizza might taste, a few problems make me hesitant to award it best of anything.
Maybe I got off on the wrong foot by ordering an appetizer, though. My motto is that the only fitting appetizer for pizza is the first slice. But my lady friend had heard good things about the "Fireside Fondue," so we requested an order. As it turned out, it was basically a bowl of hot pizza sauce with melted cheese on top. It was served with what the menu describes as "Really Garlicky Herbed Crisps," which could more accurately be called "pizza crust."
Guys don't deconstruct their pizza.
Unlike the fondue, our main order of pizza did not disappoint: Parma Prosciutto (with goat cheese, roasted red peppers and black olives) and the Fireside Meatballs (with roasted red onions and roasted red peppers).
Both held generous amounts of garlic in the sweet sauce, though I'll have to give the upper hand to the prosciutto pie. The meatballs were very good, but the pizza too labor-intensive. The pie had eight uniformly spaced meatballs on it, doled out one per slice. So, unless you cut up the meatball and distributed the pieces yourself, the bite-by-bite experience was: pizza, pizza, ENORMOUS MEATBALL, pizza, pizza, crust.
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The pizzas proved to be precisely that most awkward of sizes--a little too big for one person, not quite big enough to feed two. This dilemma is a bit easier if your date is a female, as you could split one: you'll take four pieces, she'll take two. Or better yet, one. (If she takes more than two slices, resign yourself to breaking things off. One day you'll risk being out-duded by your date.) On the other hand, if you're a gay dude on a date or just a dude eating with other guys in a non-gay way, you're gonna each need your own pizza.
Inside, the bar area has plenty of TVs if you want to watch a game; if not, you can look past the bartender into the open kitchen and watch the cooks hand-stretch the pizza dough. The outside patio had only one mid-sized TV which, oddly, is enclosed in a cheesy wooden box--and the screen isn't visible from every table.
Overall, the place is somewhat dude-friendly, but only to a very specific subset of dudes. If you're in your early- to mid-20s, prefer wine over beer with pizza and wear a starched, collared shirt even after you get off work, you will fit right in. But then can you rightly call yourself a dude? Even if you don't exactly blend in, it's so dark on the patio that your leering at the waitresses--without exception, all smoking hot, size-zero, college-age babes--will go unnoticed.
In fact, it's so dark outside that the pizza stain on your shirt (all but inevitable, as these are some loosely constructed pies [just like your mothers'--hey-o!]) will probably also go unnoticed.