These days in Houston, we're seeing far more pizzas inspired by the classic Neapolitan style (for more, read here). Much of what we're getting is terrific and shows depth of creativity and exceptional execution.
The best example? Look no further than Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co. But beware: One recent evening I arrived at the brewery’s new Sawyer Yards digs at 7 p.m., and there were no pizzas left. It was a sad moment in history, and unfortunately not an isolated one. Demand is outweighing supply at Buffalo Bayou’s full-service, limited-seating restaurant inside its three-story facility. So the best bet for Houstonians seeking out former Beaver’s chef Arash Kharat’s 72-hour-fermented, wood-oven-fired pizzas is to arrive closer to lunchtime. Even then the server might tell you a few of the options aren’t available.
Frustrating? Sure. Worth the trouble? Yes—this is, full stop, my favorite pizza purveyor in Houston, another Neapolitan-inspired spinoff that eschews tradition in favor of bold flavors.
“It’s a blend of Neapolitan, New York, and a little twist of Houston with California-style toppings,” says Kharat of his pizza, which cooks at 650 degrees Fahrenheit, lower than a classic Neapolitan, with a longer cook time.
In my book the best of the bunch is the no-sauce-required River Oaks, with both fresh and roasted garlic baked into the salty, airy crust, topped with a creamy blanketing of herbed ricotta and truffle-oil-tossed arugula. I’ve already had dreams about it.
Spice fans will love the Uptown, a bubbly pie with San Marzano tomato sauce, roasted artichokes, and a heavy dousing of red pepper flakes, and the Smoke on the Bayou, a tasty Texan pie with 44 Farms chopped short rib, smoked gouda, and jalapeños, best enjoyed with the Buffalo Bayou smoked porter called Smoke on the Bayou, whose nuttiness plays well with the toasty crust.
Each time I visited, the brewery had run out of both the Double Pepp (with homemade pepperoni and cold-smoked brisket) and the Montrose (with sausage, jalapeños, cilantro, and pesto), but I guess I’ll have to keep coming back and hoping for the best.
Sadly, you can’t take food up to Buffalo Bayou’s showstopping rooftop beer garden, whose views of the skyline will undoubtedly provide the perfect backdrop for many a wedding photo session and Astros-watching party. But that’s okay—the restaurant’s balcony diners get to enjoy the view, too, and hey, the rooftop will still be there when lunch is over.
Elsewhere around town, more examples of creative pies with Neapolitan influence abound. Hot Montrose restaurant Rosie Cannonball has a custom-built wood-burning oven that is turning out tasty, salty-sweet crusts with innovative toppings such as a delicious fennel sausage and pesto; a white pie of speck with chile oil; and a cheese pie with smoked trout roe. All are outstanding.
What to order
The River Oaks, Smoke on the Bayou, The Uptown
Buffalo Bayou Brewing Co., 2101 Summer St., 713-750-9795