Originally published in Austin Monthly, August 2015 issue; Co-written with Veronica Meewes
Austin's top 10 best pizza places and most delicious pies, whether you have a hankering for thin crust, deep dish, square, round, creative or classic
Pinning down the “perfect” pizza is a highly subjective exercise, informed as much by nostalgia, tradition and mood as it is by individual taste. And it’s a moving target, at that. Sometimes, even the most die-hard devotee of an artisanal Neapolitan pie wants nothing more than a cheesy, New York–style street slice. Thankfully, Austin has really upped its pizza game in recent years. We’re blessed with a wealth of truly excellent pies, with enough variety to suit every taste.
To help cut through the crust, Austin Monthlytasted, rated and discussed the tastiest places and pies in town, expanding our waistlines along the way. In the following pages, you’ll find our picks for the Top 10 pizzerias in town, based on crust, sauce, toppings, originality and atmosphere. We also name the 10 best pies in town, ranging from plain cheese to hidden gem. Consider this a snapshot of the best pizza in Austin right now. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Best Pizza No. 1: Bufalina
One look at Bufalina’s austere yet warm interior, anchored by a domed, glossy white-tiled wood-burning oven, and it’s not hard to guess what kind of culinary experience you’re in for. The menu is about as diminutive as the dining room, but it’s clear that excellence is the focus with both. Everything from the salads to the bubbly-crusted Neapolitan pies are simple, refined and high quality. Though we love Bufalina’s housemade mozzarella and fresh, bright sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes, it’s the perfect crust that helped the restaurant earn our top spot. It’s thin yet substantial enough to hold up under toppings, crisp and blistered, tender and chewy. Though waits can be long for a seat at the restaurant, the pizzas come out quickly thanks to that aforementioned oven, which was built in Naples by third-generation oven maestro Stefano Ferrara, reaches nearly 1,000 degrees and cooks pies in 60-75 seconds. Look for a second location to open on Burnet Road sometime later this year.
1519 E. Cesar Chavez St, (512) 524-2523,
Best Pizza No. 5: Via 313
The capital city first got a taste of VIA 313’s Motor City–style pie at the trailer parked outside the Violet Crown Social Club in December 2011—and it’s been a love affair ever since. Similar to Sicilian pizza, these square, deep-dish pies are baked in iron pans originally created to hold parts on automotive assembly lines, so the thick, chewy crust is never soggy. Plus, because the Detroit-style pies are dressed “upside down”—toppings at the bottom, then cheese, then sauce—the sides of the pie become encased in crisp, toasty cheese (our favorite part). If
thick crust isn’t your thing, then head to the new brick-and-mortar location in Oak Hill, which also serves “bar-style” pizza, round and thin pies with the same crispy-cheesy crust. There’s also an expanded menu of appetizers, salads and desserts—plus Vernor’s and Faygo, soda pops that will make any Michigan native feel at home.
6705 Hwy. 290, Ste. 503, (512) 584-8084; 1111 E. Sixth St., (512) 939-1927; 61 Rainey St., (512) 609-9405, via313.com
Leonardo da Vinci is credited with having said that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Bufalina’s Margherita pie illu-strates that point beautifully. Seemingly simple elements—a thin, crisp-yet-chewy crust topped with tangy tomato sauce, just enough fresh mozzarella and blistered basil—come together for a bite that’s far more than the sum of its parts.
The St. Philip at St. Philip
White Clam at Salvation Pizza
Salvation Pizza was this close to making our Top 10 list. We love the super-thin, super-crisp crusts on its New Haven–style pies, and the clam pie (a New Haven specialty) is a shining example. This version combines mozzarella, whole baby clams and crumbly bacon with fresh lemon.
The Rocket at Pieous