Naturally, I dragged hubby downtown, and I was practically drooling by the time we found parking and got inside.
*Side Note: Parking here sucks. A lot. Plan on making circles for about 15 minutes if you're going on a Saturday evening like we did. There are a few new bars and restaurants on this little strip, and they were packed.*
Once inside, I was shocked. It was empty! Apparently no one else was aware of the zpizza's deliciousness. I was divided in how this made me feel. On the one hand, I thought, "Mmmmm! More zpizza all for me!" on the other hand, I realized that a complete lack of patronage might mean that after a few months like this, there would, ironically, not only NOT be more zpizza for me, but none at all - for me or anyone else...
Inner emotional conflict was quickly crushed - or drowned - by the drool running down my face as I looked at the spinning warming display of individual slices. I thought, as a lady, I should show some restraint, so I wiped my mouth, swallowed the lump in my throat, and ordered a Mediterranean Rustica. B ordered an American with jalapeños, a couple of beers (he had Blue Moon), and then, to my horror and envy, said, "And give me a couple of those pepperoni slices for while I wait."
What?! I'm dying here and he, who was put off by the idea of zpizza for the very same reasons I love it (in his mind, organic = douchey), was going to chow down while I waited 15 minutes for our food? Must be nice to be a guy and not have to worry about being ladylike...
As we sat and waited, I found myself defending my old haunt: No! The one I used to go to wasn't like this. It was Southern California - we sat at tables on the sidewalk. (The inside of this zpizza was very cavernous and had these dinky little McDonald's two person tables that only served to highlight just how empty the place was.) While we waited, I felt increasingly like I was in a fish bowl. It was dark by now, and people were crowded outside waiting for valets to retrieve their vehicles. A few times the odd drunk girl would press her face up against the glass, peering into this oddly bright and mostly empty storefront before eventually squealing, "It's a PIZZA place! Oh my god, I'm so hungry! Let's get PIZZA!" Thankfully (because patronage be damned, I did NOT want to deal with drunk people), they were ushered into their awaiting vehicles by slightly more sober boyfriends or impatient valets.
When the food was finally ready, I started to dig in. As I was grabbing a slice of my Rustica, I noticed B staring down at his pie. It was undercooked (You know when instead of a cohesive layer of cheese you can see that the shreds are still shreds and haven't really melted all the way? Hate that!) and conspicuously devoid of jalapeños. I took it back to the counter and told the guy he'd forgotten them. He nonchalantly told me they were out, and that's why there weren't any on there. So I asked him to bake it longer, and he said that he couldn't since it had already been cut. I was starting to get frustrated, so I asked him for a refund on the jalapeños (it might just be a couple of dollars, but I'm not paying for toppings that we didn't get), and if he could just pop the whole pan back in so that the cheese could finish melting, which he did, albeit grudgingly.
I returned to my food, and as I picked up a slice, all of the toppings made a mad dash for the table. I took a bite, and everything just sort of...gooshed. Let me tell you, there is nothing appetizing about pizza (or any of its relatives, like the Rustica) gooshing when you bite into it. Sauce went everywhere, toppings were on the pan, and my fingers were covered in, well, gush. B looked at my miserable face and asked, "What's wrong?" I sighed and turned my eyes to the pan in front of me, my mouth too full of sauce and wet crust to talk, and my fingers too messy to even wipe my mouth off with.
What had happened? The place that had been my big work lunch treat back in LA (I was a college student and everything in LA is expensive!) was, to put it bluntly, a massive disappointment. B kept asking me if I wanted to get something else, but I couldn't. I was crushed. Somehow the meal that satiated me on those blissful SoCal afternoons just didn't translate out here - and it wasn't just the lack of abundant sunshine that made it so. Everything was undercooked and overloaded with sauce and cheese. I plowed through it out of pure hunger (this seems to be a trend, huh?) and Irish upbringing - you don't waste food - but just ended up feeling sick.
B enjoyed his pizza well enough, but only ate a bit of it because the wait between his first two slices and our food actually being ready had given his appestat time to kick in, and he was full. When he forgot his leftovers in Malaga next door (where we went for drinks), we didn't go back. I don't like to waste food, but I'm not a glutton for punishment either....
(all rankings are out of 5)
- Food: ☆☆
- Maybe we went on a bad night, but consistency of quality is important too.
- Atmosphere: ☆
- zpizza will remain a lunch spot for me, if I come back. This is not the sort of place you go to dinner, and, to be honest, it's not that convenient for me to pop in for lunch, so this might be the end of my love affair with zpizza...Unless, of course, I move back to LA!
- Service: ☆
- The guy was friendly, but didn't bother telling us he was leaving a topping off, and, let's face it, this is a healthful alternative to fast food, but it's still really self-serve.
- Price: $$
- I may no longer be a starving uni student in LA, but at this zpizza, the quality of food still did not justify the cost.
The bottom line?
Here in Austin, I'd still head to Milto's any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Seriously, the twice on Sunday thing has happened before. Though it might have been a Tuesday...