It’s time we all accept pineapple on pizza. Pineapple happens. It’s going to happen. And it happens for damn good reasons, especially when it comes to Mexican-style pizza.
Please don’t think I’m talking about Taco Bell’s similarly named combination of refried beans and ground beef between two crispy tortillas topped with cheese and tomato sauce. Sometimes called pizza exótica, true Mexican-style pizza is a category of pie developed from the tinkering of Mexican chefs who have introduced unexpected toppings like chile relleno, huitlacoche, chapulines (roasted grasshoppers), and chilaquiles. In Mexico City, you can find it at spots like Pixza. In Fort Worth, visit Black Cat Pizza.
Black Cat’s pizza al pastor features a doughy, darkly charred crust with bigger and bigger air pockets out towards the edges. The pork’s light sweetness and the bite of raw white onion nicely balance the acidity of the small rectangles of pineapple. The only element of the pie that threw me off was the inclusion of serrano-based salsa verde. The condiment somewhat overwhelmed the rest of the flavors, depending on how much of it was plopped into the specific bite I was taking. Nevertheless, this pizza is a welcome addition to the Black Cat menu. I’d return for a slice again and again.
The al pastor began as a special during Black Cat’s days as a series of pop-ups in 2018, before chef-owner Jaime Fernandez opened a brick-and-mortar location in Fort Worth’s Near Southside district three months ago. “Almost from day one, we had good, positive feedback,” he said. It was offered as a weekly special once the restaurant opened and was again such a hit that Fernandez gave it a permanent berth on the menu board.
The pork-and-pineapple pie isn’t the only Mexican-style pizza that Black Cat has toyed with. One of my other favorites is the elotes, which features seasoned, roasted corn off the cob with heavy-handed drizzles of crema, queso cotija, and cilantro finished with fiery Takis Fuego corn chips and a lime wedge meant to be squeezed over the slice. I didn’t think the combination would work. I’m not a fan of over-the-top spicy chips (they give me hiccups), and the flavor components seemed too disparate to sit well together on a doughy triangle. However, the finished product was a bright, well-balanced blend of cream, spice, and sweetness.
A couple weeks ago, the restaurant also offered a huevos rancheros-inspired pizza with a salsa ranchera base and mozzarella, provolone, and refried black beans cooked in the wood-fired oven. When it was ready to serve, an egg was soft scrambled and placed over the slice. It was finished with slices of roasted chile poblano, radishes, cilantro, queso cotija, and more salsa ranchera.
Embracing Mexican flavors isn’t a big stretch for Fernandez. “I grew up with my mom cooking interior Mexican food—because my family is from Hidalgo [state in Mexico]—so that’s what I grew up on,” he said. “A lot of my close culinary memories are of Mexican food. So when I end up making something, be it pizza or whatever, it’s always going to have that underlying theme to it.”