Restaurant Reviews

Big Apple Bite

Pastazios bills itself as a parlor steeped in New York breeding. The menu boasts authentic Big Apple pies. The inside of the restaurant, dressed in diner-ish duds, doesn't give anything away, but there are lots of New York profile photos, one of which prominently features the World Trade Center towers, a couple of skyline incisors knocked out by the sucker punch from hell.

Sometimes I get cities mixed up. New York pizza is the foldable stuff with a soft medium crust with full rich flavor glued into place by hordes of fresh mozzarella. Chicago pizza is the double-crusted oval jammed full of cheese, sausage and wacky vowel inflections. California-style pizza is cluttered with artichokes, eggplant, sprouts and cosmic political sewage. Dallas pizza is, the microwave directions on the box.

Pastazios flaunts the New York variety. It comes in three sizes: small, medium and large, and you can assault your pies with a range of pizza clutter, from anchovies to broccoli to eggplant to pineapple. The pizzas all have fresh ingredients, which is evident because nothing on these pies is marred with brown, fuzzy edges--except for the anchovies, but that's normal. The moist foldable crust isn't heavily swamped with sweetish sauce. It stays in the background where it should be, providing a cozy blanket of tang to catapult the cheese goo and the other bumpy ingredients to prominence.

But pizza is not all Pastazios does well. For tucked into this Addison Circle domicile is a wizard with stromboli: a traffic jam of pepperoni, sausage, bell pepper, onions, black olives, mozzarella and whatever New York kitchen sink they keep in the back. This stromboli is fearlessly crisp on the outside and rich on the inside without being Manhattan cabbie chunky or Bronx greasy.

What didn't go well in this Big Apple meringue was the lobster ravioli, a pile of pasta pillows (a signature dish judging by the menu nomenclature) redolent with gumminess and a lobster filling that was bland and congealed into a plasticized seafood tea bag. It was like the lobster's ghost had been boiled out of it (which of course is true) and all that was left of it was the price tag. Yet the sauce dazzled with rich zestiness, and a thin layer of melted mozzarella gave it that rib-sticking demeanor that one normally associates with chipped beef and spuds.

But then Pastazios comes back with a Key lime pie that's so good it's hard to believe it came from a pizza parlor. Topped with sliced almonds, the pie boasted a searing bite with a nicely firm custard that was smooth without being runny and a thick crust that was crumbly without being arthritically stale.

Dallas is still a pizza dork town. Thank God some New Yorkers came down here to work out the big kinks. Maybe now we can let a couple of Chicagoans seep through while we filter out the Californians. A pizza that can't be distinguished from a salad is a food crime.

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Mark Stuertz
Contact: Mark Stuertz

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