Conveyor Convenience

La Fresca Pizza Is Our Latest Guilty Pleasure

The make-your-own-pizza trend finally ensnares us.

By Alice Levitt May 3, 2017

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$8.49 for all the toppings you want. What's not to love?

Image: Alice Levitt

Around 2007, Vermont, where I was living at the time, saw a sudden and aggressive boom of Quiznos stores. In a rural state, opening several locations within less than two miles of each other made no sense, but it happened all the same. I was a wrestling writer at the time, with an emerging side gig in food. So though it wouldn't be my full-time job to try every restaurant for another year, try Quiznos I did. My boyfriend at the time became a devotee, so I tried it again. And again. And got sick each time. Needless to say, I had reasons to dislike the place beyond the simultaneously slimy and gummy turkey, and yoga-mat-flavored bread.

Not surprisingly, any restaurant with a conveyor belt was immediately scratched from my list of restaurants to visit. If eating at a factory is your idea of a good time, more power to you, but as much as I enjoy institutional food, it's not mine. It was out of character, then, that a few months ago, I tried a brand-new pizzeria that had opened in my neighborhood whose pies are cooked exactly that way.

La Fresca Pizza originated in the Meyerland area. The Heights location that I have come to frequent is the third link in the small chain. OK, I don't exactly frequent it, but for a restaurant critic who is rarely able to return to any business unless I'm reviewing it, three visits in three months is staggering. 

What's my motivation? First of all, the freshly made thin crust is the perfect junction of chewy and crisp. Pizza only happens if I'm stress eating, but the assembly-line format at La Fresca encourages me to pile on the veggies, meaning even if I'm binging on a whole pie, at least I'm also stuffing myself with broccoli. Meanwhile, I can tell the counter staffer to go light on the cheese, while keeping the tangy homemade tomato sauce thick enough to add plenty of flavor. And that conveyor belt gets the pizza cooked in just minutes, so I'm only bathed in public shame briefly before I can go home and eat my feelings. I should probably get some help with that. Until then, La Fresca, I salute you.

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