Last weekend I embarked on an adventure – a 5-round Pizza Tour around Dallas. Food-writer extraordinaire, Steven Doyle, the creator of Crave DFW was our leader through this epic journey of pizza greatness. We’ll start out at Janice Provost’s home (owner of Parigi) where we’ll wine and dine on her thin crust pizza made from fresh local ingredients. We’ll then cruise on down to Rockwall for some Zanata where you suddenly feel like you’re dining in a rustic haven with a large fire burning brick oven as its center stage. Then we’ll venture to a very cozy cove, Coal Vines, an upscale NY-style pizza joint with an infinite wine list and delicious paper thin slices to pair. For the grand finale we’ll finish in Deep Ellum where a brand new pizza joint, Serious Pizza will have some acrobatic tricks to share and last but not least, the infamous Il Cane Russo for that perfectly smoky crust.
First stop: Janice Provost’s home. She needed our taste buds to sample some pizzas for an upcoming project and we graciously volunteered. What can I really say? Janice and Roger are just amazing all around. As we pulled up to a beautifully quaint house with a bright orange door, I knew this was going to be the perfect start. Upon entering their vintage-chic home adorned with beautiful antique wood floors with modern pops of color. It wasn’t before long that I followed my nose into the kitchen.
There Roger was working the dough and Janice was saucing and topping. Pancetta, arugula, mushrooms, white truffle oil, jalapenos, Jimmy’s sausage, the glorious spread of toppings went on and on…The crust was everything I’d want a thin crust to be: light on the crust with a nice, crunchy yet delicate texture. My biggest thumbs up went to the Jalapeno Pepperoni and the White Mushroom with Truffle Oil. The flavors were comforting and fragrant with a dash of Parigi magic that gave it that pizazz that left your taste buds begging for more.
Onward we traveled all the way to Rockwall, a perfect spot just waiting to be found. Adorned with weathered wood, antique cooking pieces against a rustic brick wall – stepping into Zanata took my breath away. It was bright and airy with gigantic open windows along an entire wall and right in the center of the restaurant were two fiery brick ovens set as the stage where you can watch Chef Ted Grieb work his magic with his pizzas. I’ve always believed a good pizza means good crust, excellent sauce and interesting toppings – Zanata does just that.
Their hand-tossed pies are baked in a 900 degree wood oven that are topped with organic ingredients, local produce, and imported cheeses. Top favorites were the Truffle Pie with tartufo, potato, pancetta, rosemary and egg and the Standard with pomodoraccio tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil.
Next we ventured back to uptown and moseyed on over to Coal Vines – the brain child of Joseph Palladino and Samir Dhurandhar from Nick and Sam’s. Collin and I have actually been here before and loved it. After being rejected from Teddy’s Lounge due to Collin’s unfashionable kicks, we were turned away and ended up next door. There we enjoyed paper-thin NY styled slices that trumped any “wild” night we would’ve had at Teddy’s Lounge. Plus with the charm of Joe Palladino along with an entire wall of wine of every variety, region and price range – this is the perfect place for an intimate date or gathering with friends.
The Bolognese blew me away with their housemade tomato sauce, mozzarella, Bolognese meat and Bechamel sauce – it was such a gooey, meaty goodness you just become lost in it all. You enter this pizza heaven and you never wanna leave, which is why we ordered a pizza to take home the first time we were there.
As we started winding down towards the end of our tour we headed back over to Deep Ellum. Riding on a 70’s bus plastered with colorful drawings of past cartoon characters, some even in compromising positions, was the highlight of this tour. We had the radio blaring, beers were a-flowin’ and before we knew it, what once started as a bus full of strangers quickly became a bus full of friends, with a common connection of our love for pizza.
We stopped at Serious Pizza which was a brand new pizza joint that just opened which serves up pizza acrobatics of 30” pizzas. If you’re not feeling as monstrous feel free to order pizza by the slice until 3 am – satisfy those drunk munchies the best way you know how. I recommend the Veggie 2.0 which as spinach, broccoli, fresh tomatoes, artichokes and ricotta cheese, the toppings were bright, light and fresh.
For our finale we went to the infamous Il Cane Russo – Jay Jerrier has been deemed pizza God in Dallas for his perfectly cooked Italian pies. What once started out as a popular weekly mobile venture, has finally settled into its beautiful home in Deep Ellum. When it comes to pizza, Jay is serious – using fresh house made mozzarella, fresh local ingredients from popular vendors like Jimmy’s, and imported Italian flours to make that perfect dough.
He’s even extensively studied the art of pizza in Italy and has now brought the beauty for us to try. Using a wood fire oven using only Texas wood, pizzas cook in two minutes flat here – leaving you with a slightly smoked-kissed crust that envelops this inexplicable feeling of greatness inside you. I wanted to hug Jay, it was glorious – this was the pizza I’ve been searching for all my life. Try the classic Margherita that will blow you away with its complicated yet simplistic flavors other popular pies include Paulie Gee with hot soppressata, caramelized onions, fresh basil and mozzarella, tomatoes and Calabrian chiles. Jay also serves up great appetizers and desserts like Fried Artichokes with fresh arugula and Zeppole.
Oh man, the Zeppole. It makes you feel like a kid again – served in a brown paper bag which you vigorously shake to make sure all the little fried dough pieces are covered in powdered sugar. Then you dip it generously in the chocolate sauce and go crazy, it’s magical trust me.
It’s safe to say, this was one of the best adventures I’ve gone on in a while. The people were great – read other personal experiences of the tour by Margie at Eating in Dallas, Kellyn at The Feast and Andrew on Side Dish D magazine, the pizza was out-of-this-world, and to our wonderful host, Steven Doyle who made it all possible: thank you for giving me the opportunity to try some of the best pizza places Dallas has to offer. Every single stop was unique in its own way and I loved every place for different reasons. When Janice opens her pizza joint I’ll be the first one in line. If I ever feel like having pizza on a Sunday afternoon with friends or family, Zanata would be perfect. For a swanky yet laid-back date, Coal Vines is the place to be. Spend a beautiful day walking to Serious Pizza or stop by to satisfy those drunk munchies at 2 am for a late bite. And for all you serious pizza connoisseurs, you don’t need me to tell you Il Cane Russo is where it’s at. We finished off the tour with the tradition of sabering off two bottles of Champagne, which Jim Mcclure and Steven did with much gusto and excitement. Cheers Dallas Pizza Tour, you were a hit – until next time.