Monday, May 15, 2006

Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza

She: Again hankering for a pizza in Austin, we decided to try Mangia Chicago Stuffed Pizza (3500 Guadalupe, Austin). Having tasted a "Chicago Special" on their legendary Chicago stuffed crust, I can understand the hype surrounding this particular pizza joint. It's not necessarily the best pizza I've ever had, but it was pretty good.

I didn't know what a "stuffed crust" was when we ordered, but we decided to get it because that's supposed to be Mangia's specialty. It turns out that the crust is "stuffed" in so far as the pizza is really something of a sandwich, with two layers of crust surrounding a filling of what would normally be your pizza toppings--cheese, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, and sausage in the case of the Chicago Special. The sauce is spread on top of the top layer of pizza crust. The whole thing is at least an inch and a half thick. (We asked the woman at the cashier what size pizza we should get to feed both of us, and she recommended a small (10" in diameter). When we picked the pizza I up, I was really dubious about the size--but then we hefted the box and realized that we had just gotten a dense pizza. It definitely filled both of us up.)

The pizza was certain filling, tasty knife-and-fork fare. I can't say for sure how it compares to the Flying Tomato pizza we had two weeks ago, though. First, the difference in the crusts makes Mangia's Chicago stuffed crust pizza an entirely different beast than regular pizzas. Also, Mangia had much fewer toppings (the Chicago Special falls under their "three topping" price category), so the Flying Tomato pizza had a more complex flavor through no real fault of Mangia's. The two are about the same price, so it depends on what you're in the mood for, I guess.

At any rate, I understand now why Mangia gets such hype (or should I say, hypes itself?) as "Austin's Best Pizza." It definitely serves up good pizzas worth eating more than once. Of course, they're so dense that one will do you in for a good long while, so I'm not sure how often I'll personally eat there. But I'll get around there again some day.

He: Austin seems to have several decent pizza places and between them they cover the various styles pretty well. Mangia is in charge of the Midwest with their Chicago style deep dish pizza. In the unlikely event that you haven't tried one, picture the toppings for a 14 inch pizza heaped on a 10 inch crust and you get a pretty good idea. Our pizza was about 1 1/2 inches high including a thick sedimentary layer of cheese. Besides that the toppings included green peppers, suasage, and onions.

A 10 inch pizza is quite enough to feed two. What the pizza lacks in circumference it makes up in weight. I almost dropped the box because it was much heavier than I expected. Another operational detail worth pointing out is that these pizzas need to sinter for 30 minutes, so make sure you call in ahead of time.

Finally, let's talk about the food. I enjoyed it, but felt that there was too much cheese and too much tomato sauce involved. These two ingredients seemt to overwhelm the other flavors. Mind you, it was a perfectly fine sauce, so this isn't really a problem, but I am looking for more differentiated flavors in a really excellent pizza. Flying Tomato did a better job in this department, and for my money, Collina's in Houston still shows both of them how it is done. Nonetheless, Mangia provided a good dinner at a reasonable price ($18) and I wouldn't mind eating there again.

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