Uptown Pizza with a Moroccan Flare

3001 Knox St.

Promised delivery time: 45 minutes
Actual delivery time: 30 minutes

Interesting appetizers including Turkish meat pie: 40
Pricey pizza toppings: -10
Homemade desserts: 30
Faster delivery than Domino's: 30
Total Score: 90

Living near the Observer offices has its advantages. I don't have to worry about rush-hour traffic, and I can make it from my apartment to work in five minutes flat. Well, that's if I'm driving 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit, but that's still impressive nonetheless. It's also nice that I can make the most of my lunch hour since I know which restaurants in the area are good options for a quick sandwich or lunch with friends.

But I have come to realize that my close proximity to work is not always advantageous. A few weeks ago, I ordered dinner from a nearby restaurant. I was exhausted that evening, so as soon as I got home, I threw on my pajamas and placed a delivery order. When the delivery guy showed up, I was mortified to see it was a guy who occasionally delivers to our office. With my flannel pajamas and disheveled hair, I looked like a creature straight out of Where the Wilds Things Are, so I grabbed my food and shut the door before the guy had a chance to make small talk. That's when I knew I had to find some new delivery options.

Another City of Ate writer suggested I try Farnatchi. When he gave me a menu, I thought that this was just another overpriced Uptown pizza joint. But then he gave me a piece of their homemade tiramisu, and I was sold. Situated in the Knox Village strip center at the corner of Central Expressway and Knox Street, Farnatchi is latest offering from the owner of Medina in Victory Park, and like Medina, the menu offers Moroccan-infused dishes. In addition to pizza and calzones, the menu also offers pasta, chicken, and burgers.

When I called to place my order, the guy who answered was friendly and quoted a delivery time of 45 minutes, but only 30 minutes later, the delivery guy called to tell me he was downstairs. As I headed downstairs, I saw a delivery guy, but it was a dude in LA Gourmet Pizza gear. Turns out the delivery guy from Farnatchi was sick, so the LA Gourmet delivery guy was working double-duty. Immediately, the aroma of tomato and spices wafted toward me, and I hurried back upstairs to dig into my dinner. I quickly devoured the feta phyllo appetizer, large puff pastries filled with warm feta and herbs. I wanted to try one of the signature pizzas, so I went with the tasty Farnatchi pizza with sausage, peppers, onions, and olives. The linguini Casablanca was the real standout, and the shrimp, calamari, and scallops were tender and plentiful. They definitely didn't scrimp on the good stuff. The marinara sauce tasted as if it had simmered for hours in grandma's kitchen, and hints of Moroccan spice intensified the rich flavor.

After dinner, I visited Farnatchi's Web site and discovered the prices on the menu I had were higher than the prices listed online. My receipt wasn't itemized, so I did a little math and figured out that the online menu has the correct prices. My dinner wasn't very expensive since I got the small pizza, but a large pie could run you more than $20 since additional toppings are $3 each. Maybe Farnatchi does have something in common with other pricey Uptown pizza places, but at least I can enjoy a fancy slice in the privacy of my own home.

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Elizabeth Bair
Contact: Elizabeth Bair