When you dine out for a living, you can get a bad “been there, ate that” attitude. While other people are e-mailing each other like crazy over their latest find, you’re hitting the “delete” key as fast as possible. But a few months ago, notes from readers about a San Antonio pizzeria started popping up in my mailbox. The place was called Dough, and it was making certified Neapolitan pizza. Wait—potentially excellent pizza pies in Puffy Taco City? That got my attention.
When my friends and I arrived just after 11:30, we found nothing that looked remotely like any pizza parlor I’ve been in lately, thank God. The strip-center location is casual and contemporary, with smart black-topped tables and mirrors on terra-cotta-colored walls. If you sit at the short bar up front, you can sniff bouquets of fresh basil and rosemary and learn a little bit about what makes these pizzas special as you watch chef-owner Doug Horn and his crew gently toss the dough. Unlike what you may have seen in Marx Brothers movies, nobody hurls Neapolitan pizza dough three feet into the air and catches it on the fly. Made from soft-grain Italian flour, stretched as thin as possible, and cooked in ninety seconds or less in a wood-burning oven with a volcanic-stone floor, these are the aristocrats of pizzas.
In the unlikely event you are still on the passé no-carb diet you started in 2006, there’s a great appetizer of marinated, oven-roasted olives. We also liked the mushroom bruschetta, with the fluffiest of mushroom pâtés on top. Or you might try Dough’s fashionista caprese salad, a perfect dome of creamy house-made burrata cheese surrounded by cherry tomatoes. Best of all may be the arugula salad, with a mountain of greens, skinny green beans, and sliced potatoes dressed in truffle oil and lemon juice. But how could anybody shun carbs when the pizza’s so great?
What did we like best? Honestly, every version we tried was primo. The foodies in our party were wowed by the arugula-and-prosciutto combo (pictured, previous page), and the meatheads pigged out on the Pork Love (loaded with mozzarella, sausage, pancetta, salami, and speck). But the puttanesca got nods for its in-your-face toppings of white anchovies and hot pepper flakes, as did the potato pizza, topped with sliced spuds, Gorgonzola, caramelized onions, and rosemary.
After so much pizza, you might think that the last thing you’d want would be a sandwich, but trust me: You must have the Nutella panini for dessert. Made with sliced, grilled, and pressed bread bookending a fat dollop of melted hazelnut chocolate, this is Italy’s answer to the chocolate croissant, and it is magnifico. Or, say “caffeine be damned” and have an affogato: vanilla ice cream with a shot of espresso poured over it. You may be up half the night, but you won’t regret it. You’ll be dreaming of those pizzas before and after you finally fall asleep. Beer & wine. Blanco Junction shopping center, 6989 Blanco Rd, at Loop 410, southwest corner (210-979-6565). Lunch Tue–Sat 11:30–2:30. Dinner Tue–Sat 5:30–“until the fresh mozzarella runs out” (usually about 9:30). Closed Sun & Mon. $$ W+