photo from spartanpizzaaustin.com
  When the temperature drops a few degrees and it’s “winter” in Austin, I start craving pizza. There’s something about robust red sauce, crisp crust, and stringy mozzarella that recalls the warmth of summer and instant comfort. I started out my evening with Spartan by holding two full, hot pizza boxes and a bag with a panini on my lap, the flavorful steam rising out of the cracks into the cold car along with my anticipation (sure, you could eat at Spartan’s plentiful picnic tables, but it’s 40 degrees outside!). And I was not disappointed. By the meal, that is—I could have lived without the cheesy Greek names for each entrée. My favorite was the traditional Hades. I’d cross any river to get to this baby, with its rich tomato sauce, big buttons of Italian sausage, chunky green olives, and rounds of herbed ricotta and mozzarella. The crust had an initial crunch and then a smooth chewiness, as well as a nice flavor from the wood-firing oven. The Agamemnon was smokin’ hot enough to give a girl an Electra complex. With Salt Lick barbecue–flavored chicken, slices of red onion and pickled jalapeño, and zesty cilantro pesto under a thick layer of cheese, this pizza pleased the whole house. My dinner buddy and I didn’t clap à la Mama Klump in The Nutty Professor for the Heracles, a slightly tough panini with bacon, sliced white onion, plumes of fresh spinach, fresh mozzarella, and potent garlic spread, but the overall flavors were complex and enjoyable. Dipped in the herbed olive oil, it was divine. We ended the evening with two almost-empty, open pizza boxes, a devoured panini, and splashes of herbed olive oil all around. Verdict? Spartan Pizza is a gift from the gods. 8504 South Congress, #3 (512-484-0798). Open Tue–Thur 6–10, Fri–Sat 6–midnight. Closed Sun & Mon. Posted by Megan Giller