By the slice or by the pie, I have never met a pizza I haven’t liked so deciding the pizza joints in Wacotown was a hard one. Of course, everyone has their fast-food pizza they prefer. But when it comes to pizza that is not bought with a coupon, is not a chain, or mass produced, seriously narrows the choices down. Luckily, there are many to choose from in Waco. And I was happy to do the research.
When searching for the best cheesy- isosceles triangles in the area, a slice from a perfectly cut pizza, I visited some old stand-buys, some newbies and a few new ones-to me-that I had never tried.
Warning- don’t read this one while hungry.
We did all the leg work to find some of the best places to grab your slice of the pie. (You are welcome!). I want to state, this is not a top five list and it is in no order. Also, important to state, there are no franchises on this list, no matter how delicious their pizza.
A little pizza-history. Fior di latte is fresh mozzarella made from cow’s milk. As you know, pizza originated in Italy and arrived in America as an immigrant food. One type of pizza, the Margherita, was created in 1889, by Rafaelle Esposito, in honor of Italy’s Queen Margherita, who visited Naples and was interested in the flatbreads being eaten by the city’s peasants. Esposito wanted the pizza to have the colors of the Italian flag—red, green, and white.
While Waco is no New York, there are several places that serve a delicious pie. Narrowing down the pizza-makers to only five was no easy task. However, I was up to the challenge! Wacoans are fortunate to have many authentic pizzerias and even a food tuck that throws a good pie.
First stop, Moroso’s Wood Fired Pizza. Moroso’s opened in September with a limited menu but has now expanded the menu. If you love pizza–not every day cheese and pepperoni pizza-but pizza that is a masterpiece, you will love Moroso’s. You must truly appreciate the special blends of the ingredients, carefully thought out, for each variety served. You may or may not have to Google an ingredient or two but the result is an explosion of goodness in your mouth.
“Fresh Fior di Latte mozzarella, rich and creamy with just a hint of tartness, sweet San Marzano tomatoes, grown in the fertile volcanic soil of the Campari region and picked when they’re at their peak of ripeness, fresh basil, my favorite herb, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a truly amazing crust,” pizza artfully described by owner Dan Moroso.
Moroso’s serves the classic Neapolitan pizza, consisting of crust, pureed tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil.
Part of the reason the pizza at Moroso’s is so good is the custom-built oven manufactured by Francesco & Enzo Marra, which Moroso says is ‘arguably the best Neapolitan oven builders today.’
Located in the old Cafe Cappuccino location in Waco, the price of Moroso’s is in the midrange, more than your average fast-food pizza, but should not even be compared to that because of the care and love that goes into each pie. And flavor. You will also be absorbed in the ambiance and receive great service. The pies start at $11 for a 13-inch piece of circular heaven.
I recommend, if dining with two, sitting at the bar. From here you can watch the pizza-makers at work. And the service at the bar is magnificent. The menu has antipasti, salads and sandwiches, pasta, and pizza (don’t forget the pizza).
The pizzeria also has several deserts to choose from. The gelato with a shot of espresso, (while in Rome-or Naples) was unbelievable.
Opened Sunday for brunch, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Closed Mondays. Open for lunch Tuesday through Saturdays, 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and dinner 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays open until 10:00 p.m.
For more information and to view the full menu, please visit http://www.morosopizzeria.com/
Poppa Rollo’s Pizza
Noticeable by all Wacoans by the firetruck out front, Poppa Rollo’s Pizza, a classic pizza parlor owned by Roland Duty, first opened in 1969. The restaurant moved to its current 703 N. Valley Mills Drive location in 1979. Duty married his bride, Mary, the same year and the two have (practically) raised their children at the restaurant. If you grew up in Waco, you may also feel you were raised at the restaurant with the fuzzy red wallpaper and the secret hallways and rooms. Not much has changed over the years, other than it is now smoke-free because of an ordinance.
The pizza has remained as mouthwatering as ever and many in Waco would say it is the best. A Waco staple. Like coming home. One of the favorite ways to order a pizza at Poppa Rollo’s is par-baked. Par-baked crust means the crust has actually been baked twice.
While enjoying your pizza in the family-friendly restaurant, you can also step back in time and watch old black and white’s like The Three Stooges and The Little Rascals.
In 2015, the sons of Duty, Justin and Caleb, opened a second location of the Waco favorite, in Hewitt, located at 1201 Hewitt Drive, in the Westrock Centre. The two sons also opened a food truck in Waco, 900 Degrees Wood Fired Pizzeria.
Open Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
For more information, please visit http://www.popparollos.com/
Shorty’s Pizza Shack
The next stop in Waco is Shorty’s Pizza Shack is described as a home-grown, family-owned and operated pizza place. Around the corner from Baylor University, this college hangout slash restaurant specializes in New York-style pizza with fresh ingredients, including their own marinara, scratch-made, hand-tossed dough and a whole-dairy-mozzarella blend, served hot out of their brick oven. (Brick oven-a repeated word throughout this article.)
The owner knows Baylor well because he spent his college years here in Waco. After he graduated, he figured out a way to open his dream. And stay in Waco.
Open since 2011, Shorty’s prides itself on the fresh toppings and fresh meats, and is well-known for their Pizza Pillow® which is recommended to be dipped in ranch or marinara. They also serve made-to-order fried pickles and mushrooms, wings with house-made sauce, and cheesy garlic bread. Baylor students can be seen daily enjoying pizza and a cold beer inside or out on the dog-friendly large covered patio.
They welcome you to come for the pizza and stay for the atmosphere. Shorty’s also offers carry-out as well as catering.
Located at 1712 S 12th Street at Bagby Avenue. Shorty’s is open 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., daily.
For the menu or more information, visit http://shortyspizzashack.com/
And, last but definitely not least, Portofino’s Authentic Italian Restaurant. Located downtown at 725 Austin Avenue, across from the Hippodrome, and not your average ‘buy one pizza, get one free’ kind of place.
Portofino’s features classic Italian dishes like lasagna, spaghetti, chicken and veal parmigiana, chicken marsala, as well as signature dishes like chicken Albanese and lobster ravioli. And homemade rolls. Don’t forget the incredible made-in-house rolls.
Although they may be known for their homemade Italian food, Portofino’s also has delicious hand-thrown New York-style pizza in a 10” version or a to-go larger size. They make the dough, in-house daily, and often have specials. One favorite on the menu is the chicken alfredo pizza; a white, cheesy pie of goodness.
Open for lunch and dinner, Portofino’s owner Nick Colaku will be there, along with his family, serving authentic, traditional and oh-so-good dishes that will bring you back again and again.
Portofino’s Authentic Italian Restaurant opened seven years ago in a shopping center near MCC, but originally the restaurant started in China Spring. Colaku has had regular customers follow him along the way.
Open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., daily. For more information, visit, http://www.portofinosofwaco.com/
So, are you hungry yet?
These pizza-picks are wonderful choices for dining out with your children or for that not-often-enough date-night. While pizza is always delicious, filling and most satisfying, eating locally-owned, Waco pizza is the way to go! Delizioso!
My daugter lives in Hewitt and everytime I visit we have to go to Poppa Rolla’s…my personal favorite!! Love that there is one in Hewitt now also.
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