Tag Archives: Houston pizza

Houston Pizza (Bagel) Review

Doesn’t a good pizza bagel just make your day?!?! It’s warm and gooey with a chewy, salty, dense bagel underneath! What’s not to love?!

Side note: I always choose a salt or everything bagel for my pizza bagels, but my sister says this is “gross” and that one should only get a pizza bagel on a plain bagel. You decide.

Did you know that originally bagels came in only plain or salt? Then they started branching out into all sorts of other flavors in the 1950s. And with the rise of Lender’s – prepackaged and frozen bagels – so too more flavors and more diverse consumers across America, for instance, the cinnamon raisin bagel, which was created to appeal to the non-Jewish “breakfast food” market.

I just got done reading Maria Balinska’s The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread which is a fascinating look at the creation and rise in popularity of the bagel. Bagels have a fuzzy origin story, in that many ethnicities and countries have similarly shaped bread products so it’s hard to pinpoint one beginning point for the bread with a hole phenomenon. But it’s also a food whose history is intertwined with stories of political, economic and labor battles. The book is a quick read for anyone interested in food history and/or Jewish food history.

But anyway, back to the pizza bagel at hand. This particular pizza bagel was procured at New York Coffee Shop, a crowded Jewish bagel and coffee joint in the Braeburn neighborhood of Houston Texas.

“Decorated” in the 1980s, walking in reminded me of the formica counter top diners we would go to as children, perhaps after Hebrew school on Sunday for a matzah ball soup and pickles.

My mom did indeed have the matzah ball soup which looked traditionally delicious. And I of course had the pizza bagel, on an everything bagel, with a cup of coffee.

pizza bagel

It was all really good. The coffee was above average and totally came in above expectation. They definitely knew how to do a good pizza bagel with toasted bagel, fully melted cheese and not too much sauce.

Personally, I don’t see how one could mess up a pizza bagel, but you’d be surprised.

If I had it to do over, I’d choose a salt bagel just to kick things up a notch.

And the personality of the place was charming and nostalgic too. Would I want to lick the table? No. Did we run into people our in-laws knew from the community? Yes. And isn’t that really what these old-school Jewish diners are all about in the end? Thumbs up.

make-your-own veggie pizza

Houston Pizza Review: BLAZE

My mom and I visited my sister in Houston a few weeks ago and took a lunchtime trip to Blaze Pizza on Westheimer. Blaze is a fast-casual pizza chain, where you stand in line and either choose a standard personal pizza from their menu or do a create-your-own pizza from a smorgasbord of ingredients, Chipotle style. The staff assembles the pie and then rapidly cooks it in their huge wood-fired oven and calls your name when it’s ready to get at the counter.

There was a Blaze in Royal Oak when we were living in Michigan that I always wanted to try but never got around to it, so I was happy to go there in Texas!

I ordered the off-the-menu Red Vine pizza which is red sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, and I also added shredded mozzarella to it.

red vine pizza with extra mozzarella
red vine pizza with extra mozzarella

My sister did a make-your-own with lots of veggies including mushrooms and arugula.

make-your-own veggie pizza
make-your-own veggie pizza

Both pizzas were delicious and we devoured them both. The ingredients were fresh and flavorful and the crust was pretty good – not dry or cardboard-like, which can often be the case.

The only issue I had (which is unfortunately pretty standard these days at this kind of restaurant) was that I was SUPER parched afterwards. Even after drinking lots of water, I could still feel the effects of the saltiness from the pizza.  They were yummy going down though 🙂

The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable about the ingredients and food prep. My mom has a lot of dietary restrictions, and they were incredibly helpful directing her in terms of what she could or couldn’t eat. For instance, they don’t use cornmeal on the bottom of the pizza to prevent sticking; they use semolina, which she can eat. They also swapped out her Italian salad dressing for oil and vinegar and made her salad fresh, instead of directing her to the case of pre-made salads, to ensure no cross-contamination with items she can’t digest. I thought the customer service was excellent, especially for a fast-casual establishment whose business model is based on volume, standardization and quick turnaround.

In terms of fast-casual chain pizza, I would definitely rank Blaze near the top.

Blaze
Blaze