Unknown Food Critic
617 Piety St., New Orleans, 504-676-8482
THREE STARS (out of four)
Pizza Delicious got its start a few years ago as an underground pop-up, run from a commercial catering kitchen just one night a week. Its founders are New York natives who missed the distinctive style of the pizza they grew up eating and started selling them on weekends as a hobby. The response was overwhelming, however, as people phoned in, lined up and raved about Pizza Delicious week after week. The message was clear, and in 2012 this full-service pizzeria opened its doors in the Bywater.
This is a very casual, cool looking place, built into a portion of a warehouse. It’s a little hard to spot from the street until you’re right on top of it. It’s comfortable enough, with a mix of big, basic booths for up to 6 and a collection of small and large tables around the room. The crowd skews young, but all types come through here, whether to get a whole pizza with the family or just grab a slice while bicycling about the neighborhood.
Pizza Delicious is a counter-service operation: wait in line, pay at the register, collect your drinks and food is brought out to your table. It’s efficient and it works just fine for the pizzeria concept.
The menu is very small – pizza is the main act and entire reason for the restaurant’s existence, after all. But you can start out with an order of garlic knots (basically wads of seasoned pizza dough) or little snack-sized rolls stuffed with spinach or pepperoni. There are always a few salads, and these are reliably good. The kitchen sources very fresh produce for them, and apart from the Caesar they change with the seasons.
Pizza, pizza, pasta, and pizza – that’s how my meals have gone here, and while the pasta is notable we have start with the pizza. This is the idealized New York pizza that expats dream about and travelers look for when they visit the Northeast. It’s thin-crusted, but the crust still has substantial character, being both crisp and a little chewy. The whole thing is pocked by large air bubbles, adding more texture. The sauce has a little tang to it, and it’s only modestly applied, as is the cheese. The result retains its edge without winding up the soggy mess so many other pizzas become after too many toppings are loaded on.
The menu is a little different from your standard pizzeria. There isn’t a long list of toppings offering every possible combination, and some people may be disappointed that their go-to pizza order isn’t necessarily available night to night. What you find instead is basic cheese and pepperoni versions and a Margherita pie served at all times, and then a list of four or so daily specials, which vary between Italian meats (pancetta, speck, sausages, etc.) and seasonal vegetables (kale in winter, for example, eggplant in summer).
The pastas similarly change from visit to visit, but they have a reliably high level of quality and consistency, whether it’s bucatini carbonara or fettuccine with shrimp and chile peppers.
A whole pie is huge, more than enough for two hungry people, and a slice and bowl of pasta combines the best of both worlds.
There is usually an array of homey, house-made baked goods displayed on plates or under pie domes by the register. They’re pretty tasty, but more of an afterthought.
There’s beer and wine and the short lists for both categories offer a decent range and good value. The drafts beers are all craft style (with the budget exception of the Pabst Blue Ribbon) and the wines are all Italian labels that pair well with pizza.
Whole pies range from $13 (for cheese) to $20 (for specials) and slices are $2 or $3. Pastas are around $8 to $12, and the beer and wine are appropriately priced. It’s all comparable to any independent pizzeria standard, and an excellent value when the very high quality is figured into the equation.
We used to hear the complaint in many circles that New Orleans just isn’t a pizza town, and it’s true that this city doesn’t have its own distinctive pizza style. But more and more faithful renditions of the pizza traditions from other places are turning up here, and for those with a taste for New York-style pizza the place to find it is Pizza Delicious in the Bywater. It’s worth driving past a lot of other run-of-the-mill pizzerias to sample the goods here.