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–Leslie Brenner,
Dallas Morning News
Fearless Critic restaurant review
Houston
Food
Feel
Price
8.2
8.0
$30
Pizza
Casual restaurant

Hours
Sun–Thu 11:00am–11:00pm
Fri–Sat 11:00am–1:00am

Features Date-friendly, kid-friendly, outdoor dining, veg-friendly
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

www.piola.it

Midtown
3201 Louisiana St.
(713) 524-8222
Piola
A scritchy, blistered pizza that evokes the Italian cultural centers of the world

Pizza’s like sex—everyone has a position, and it’s upsetting when it’s not yours. For many, only Neapolitan is acceptable (where crust blisters are concerned, once you go black, you never go back?), while New Englanders fight among themselves over whose interpretation is best (never mind Chicago’s deep-dish proclivities); large swaths of the country think the best pizza has a doughy, bland crust and “gourmet” canned ingredients (thanks, CPK).

But everyone agrees that Houston suffers a dearth of good pizza. Along comes Piola, a small chain with cred-inspiring success in Italy, Brazil, and Argentina. The oversexed advertising and rainbow-colored pendant lamps remind us of the endearingly gaudy Buenos Aires clubs, as does the happy hour where free food keeps coming so long as you’re drinking. But nothing speaks to the pizza’s relative proximity to Italy (if not quite Naples) more loudly than the crust, which “scritches” when folded, showing off its lightly salty black beauty marks. The middle of a margherita oozes with firm bufala balanced by fresh-tasting tomato sauce and basil; artichoke hearts and hearts of palm are wonderful with the Brazilian cream cheese Catupiry; eggs, beef carpaccio, prosciutto, and Kalamata olives allow for great combinations that still stick to the point.

Forget the pasta—it’s mediocre, and gnocchi are smooshy. At the bar, skip the few dull iterations of South American and Italian wines for beer; Italians prefer beer with their pizza, anyway—a position we can get behind.

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