By Robert E. Mace
Welcome to Part 2 of a multi-part series about pizza in the ‘hood. To recap, we’ve already partaken of the pies at Little Deli (3.5 out of 5 stars), Rebel Pizza (4 stars), and the glorious Bufalina Due (5 stars). Up next are East Side Pies, Pinthouse Pizza, and Brooklyn Pie Co. As a reminder, I’m focusing on local pizza providers and comparing the standard bearer of pies: pepperoni.
Pinthouse Pizza (4 stars)
The haiku review:
nice picnic tables
topped with piping hot pizza
and cold site-brewed beer
The sign out front says it all: “Pizza and Beer.” That’s two of the three major food groups, y’all! (if only they served mac-n-cheese…) Fortunately, both of those food groups are expertly served at Pinthouse Pizza. Opened in 2012, Pinthouse quickly recruited an ample clientele inspired by their site-brewed beers and locally-sourced foods.
Pinthouse correctly describes itself as “We are not gourmet, but we are artisanal. We are not gastropub, but we are craft.” I found this to be true. It’s a nice place, but it’s not precious. And the food, conjured with local ingredients, is solid. While I support locally-sourced and organic foods, it’s not an absolute requirement for me. However, the use of locally-sourced and organic chow means that the proprietors care about their food, and that’s the case at Pinthouse.
The salads are gorgeous and delicious. We tried the Pinthouse Salad ($5 for a side size, which was enough for both of us) with baby spinach, dried cranberries, red onions, blue cheese, candied pecans, and poppy seed dressing. We then tried one of their classic pies, a medium 14-inch Pepperoni and Basil ($13.50). The crust, let’s call it medium thick, is chewy and grainy (in a good way). Pinthouse uses Smart Flour (sorghum, amaranth, and teff) for their gluten-free crusts, so I wonder if they put some of it in all their dough. The highlight of the show was the smoked and curled-at-the-edges crispy pepperoni, sourced from East Austin’s Smokey Denmark’s.
You can order a classic pie, a specialty pie, or simply concoct your own. Pinthouse also has ephemeral Off the Map pies, which was the Ooh La La when we were there: pepperoni pizza topped with habanero, serrano, and jalapeno-infused honey; arugula; peppadew peppers; and micro-planed parmesan. As Yogi Berra said (as quoted on Pinthouse’s web page): “You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”
Pinthouse also hops with award-winning hops. They have about 18 brews brewed on site plus another 30 guest beers. Pinthouse sports a 100% PVC-free draft system and uses their brewing byproducts to feed peacocks. At the website, there’s a live video feed of their brew boards so you can see what’s getting tapped and served. It’s easy to spot the brewers: they all look like malnourished cavemen.
Pinthouse has a contemporary biergarten aesthetic: a large open space framed with stainless steel beer-brewing barrels and a phalanx of 20 glossy-topped picnic tables with seven additional tables out front. It’s a kid-friendly environment (not much to destroy…) with a small collection of video games in the corner. The tunes are varied and, interestingly, somewhat gothy. I like that.
Ordering occurs at separate counters for the bar and kitchen with pizza delivered to your table. Note that you can add pizza to an open bar tab but not beer to a pizza tab. While the pizza and beer are ample, the parking is not. Additional parking is in the rear. After 4:30 pm M-F and 1 pm S-S you can park at the Assistance League Thrift House and stroll over (the website presents additional parking options).
4729 Burnet Road; (512)436-9605; dine in; third party delivery available.
East Side Pies (4 stars)
The haiku review:
started in the east
they are now on the north side
thin crispy goodness
To the directionally literal, the name of this place may seem bizarre. Don’t we live on the north side? But this northern outpost of the highly acclaimed East Side Pies is a #pizzagawdsend. Although its location is not technically in Allandale, it’s close enough for the neighborhood-newsletter business (and it is on the east side of Allandale). Furthermore, Eastsides are mostly about takeout or delivery, and they are easily within piping-hot-pie striking distance.
The pies sport thin crispy crusts with a good balance between cheese, pepperoni, and tomato sauce (we’re not surprised by hearty tomato flavor after bumping into the owner at the downtown farmers market buying up all the tomatoes). Having lived half a decade in Nuevo Mexico, we love that they have green chile (pronounced as if a Canadian was telling you to relax: “Chill, eh.”); therefore, we almost exclusively order a pepperoni and chile pizza from them ($19 for 18”). As a bonus, the chile has a fair amount of burn to it, unusual for Austin. And if the burn of peppers from the Rio Grande Valley upstream of Tejas wasn’t enough, the Eastsiders include a large, grilled jalapeno in the box. We’re not sure what you’re supposed to do with it, so we save it for homemade migas the next morning.
East Side Pies has the basics but also has an extensive list of specialty pies (for example, the Buscemi, the Girther, the Old 97s, the Moon Dingo, the Popeye, and the Chimi Hendrix). They also have the craziest collection of sauces we’ve ever seen for pizza, including black bean, spinach curry, hummus, chimichurri, and tomatillo. The most insane ingredient? Avocado. They also have a gluten-free crust option. And to yin the digestive yang, they also serve decent salads ($3.50 to $4.50).
1809-1 West Anderson Lane; (512)467-8900; takeout and delivery; slices available onsite.
Brooklyn Pie Co. (2 stars)
The haiku review:
go into Woodrow’s
order beer and some pizza
Brooklyn Pie Co. operates as a small standalone but, like a moss ball attached to a post oak, it’s also glommed onto a bar, Little Woodrow’s. I guestimate that Woodrow’s supplies 87 percent of Brooklyn’s clientele, which is a good thing for Woodrow’s: I’m not a fan of bars that don’t serve food. It’s also a good thing for Brooklyn Pie Co. because of the built-in clientele for its wares. Woodrow’s takes advantage of its indoor-outdoor Mid-Century Modern location with its dog-friendly policy (pooches allowed inside!), but along with the bar focus comes the smoking and, in this case, the dive-iness.
Perhaps Brooklyn shines through its specialty pies (such as the Classic New York, the Bleeker Street, or the White Castle Cheeseburger), but the pepperoni pizza we ate, sprinkled with oregano ($13.75 for 14”), was dough dominated resulting in a relatively flavorless pie. This lack of flavor is odd since they proclaim the use of all natural ingredients and sitemade Old World tomato sauce. The Fresh Garden Salad ($4.00, enough for two) was adequate but nothing special. “Adequate” is the key word. If you’re at Little Woodrow’s and need something to soak up the hops after a few pints, Brooklyn’s dough rises to the task. But if pie is the sole goal of your quest, there are far-more-noble places for crusading. And be careful about eating beneath the tree out front: the birds fancy themselves as chefs, often adding additional toppings to your pizza!
5425 Burnet Road; (512)291-6583; dine-in, takeout, and delivery.