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Good-To-Go: Nashville Hot Chicken Pizza with Pickles at Zalat

Zalat's Nashville Hot Chicken Pizza with Pickles, sans the roulette wheel of fire.EXPAND
Zalat's Nashville Hot Chicken Pizza with Pickles, sans the roulette wheel of fire.
Lauren Drewes Daniels
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At this point, Nashville hot chicken needs no introduction. We’re far past those awkward first days where we laugh a little too loud at each other’s jokes. At this point, it’s similar to an uncle who shows up for dinner on occasion; no introduction or nice napkins needed.

Khanh Nguyen, the founder of Zalat Pizza, opened his first pizza spot next to his pho restaurant, Dalat, in 2015 on Fitzhugh Avenue. He’s done a few things to differentiate Zalat from other pizza places, including late-night hours, creative toppings (like the Pho Shizzle) and spicy housemade toppings on a crust he spent a full year perfecting. It's all earned him a steady fan base.

As proof of that, just six years into the pizza business, Nguyen opened his 11th pizza outpost, this one in Arlington (1805 N. Collins St.), earlier this month. This is a to-go-only option, or “ghost kitchen.” Customers can order through their site using DoorDash or UberEats for delivery, or pick up at the window at the ghost kitchen. Actually, you don't even have to go to the window, there are parking spaces in front for curbside pick up.

Zalat's new spot in Arlington is takeout only. Somewhere back there, they're tossing the dough.EXPAND
Zalat's new spot in Arlington is takeout only. Somewhere back there, they're tossing the dough.
Lauren Drewes Daniels

Never one to shy away from trending or creative toppings  — like the Pho Shizzle and an elotes-inspired pie — last week Zalat cannonballed into the deep end of the Nashville hot chicken pool. And, truth be clucked, this is a trend we like. There are some face-sweatin'-good chicken sandwiches to be had out there. Pizza felt like a stretch, but we’re flexible.

Zalat's Nashville Hot Chicken and Pickles pizza is topped with a sweet and spicy hot sauce, Sriracha, chunks of cubed white chicken (baked, not fried), thin slices of red onion and about a dozen bread and butter pickles. To top it off, there’s a lollipop swirl of Sriracha-laced ranch dressing. Two additional plastic cups of this blush pink house-made sauce are included in the order. You'll want to hoard these like all those packets of ketchup in the kitchen drawer.

The crust is in the Goldilocks zone of dough; not a centimeter too thin or thick with a nice crisp crunch: simply a perfect vessel for all those toppings, at full attention from box to mouth.

If you’re into pain, last year Zalat introduced a "reaper roulette challenge." In this sadistic little game of chance, one unknown slice of pizza is insanely hot. Per a Facebook post, "We are talking Scoville units eons beyond Sriracha, even hotter than that last Tinder swipe, you get the picture." If you add this option to your pizza ($2.50), the box comes with a statement releasing the company from any liability associated with you "eating something this hot after we warned you about how hot is!" 

Nguyen was a corporate lawyer before getting into the restaurant business. See how that paid off? They also sell pints of Ben and Jerry’s.

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