Asheville by the slice

Happy reviewers: Leo, Radix and Olive Faruq do a little pizza sleuthwork at Circle in the Square on Biltmore Avenue. Photo by Bill Rhodes

Xpress received this email back in November from Radix Faruq, an aspiring food reviewer: “Hey, my kids and I consider ourselves to be pizza connoisseurs of sorts, and since there appears to be a plethora of slice options here in town, we thought it would be fun and informative to do a slice survey. I've noted 10 places that serve pizza by the slice, and we'd review based on the dough, sauce, size, speed, atmosphere and price.”

We were too charmed to pass on the offer. Here are the results:

My 9-year-old son, Leo, 7-year-old daughter Olive and I may not possess the most sophisticated culinary palates on the planet. But when it comes to a quality slice of pizza pie, we definitely know what makes our personal cut.

So, from the dough, sauce and cheese to the size and oily fold of the slice, we took our pizza prowess around town. And, without silverware (an unwanted and unnecessary tool to the true master of the slice), we hit eight pizza joints. Here is our story:

We began this saucy affair at Favilla’s (1093 Patton Ave., West Asheville), where we were met with a very familiar New York greeting: “How are ya?” Favilla's is a small, family-run pizza joint where Frank Sinatra and ‘50s Doo-wop plays over the Hobarts while customers eat big, thin, distinct and foldable New York-style slices. Favilla’s has a small dine-in counter, and could easily fit in on a Brooklyn street.

Our second slice run took us to the new-ish downtown location of Circle on the Square (12 Biltmore Ave.), where we were greeted kindly at the bar before we took our seats in the spacious dining area. Within minutes, we were served three huge, hot and greasy-in-a-good-way slices that had a great, bakery-quality, golden-brown crust.

Frank’s Roman Pizza (90 S. Tunnel Road, South Asheville) was the next stop on our carb-collection trip. Established in 1977, Frank’s has many endearing qualities: walls lined with kid’s crayon classroom drawings, comfortable booths and video games. The staff is friendly and diverse, the slices chewy and cheesy with a deep flavor to the sauce.

Stop No. 4 was Standard Pizza (631 Haywood Road, West Asheville). This joint has a funky and eclectic dining area, and also an outside patio. They offer up a crispy and consistent slice of goodness which definitely met our standards.

We then ventured down the block to Digable Pizza (794 Haywood Road, West Asheville), which has a very nice, cozy dining area. The organic French-crust dough and seemingly cheddar-like cheese slice was good, but perhaps a bit too healthy for our greasy-pizza tastes.

Woody’s Pizza and Hoagies (84 Mineral Springs Road, South Asheville) was destination No. 5. My son immediately commented that there was a “state fair"-like scent to the restaurant, probably due to their (not at all bad-smelling) deep fryer. Woody’s is sporty, with two large televisions set to ESPN, old photos of Yankee Stadium, trophies and other sports memorabilia. They may not serve the biggest and baddest slice, but at $1.59, more than satisfies. Behind the register a sign reads, “Only sissies eat store-bought frozen pizza.”

Then, we visited local institution Asheville Brewing Company (77 Coxe Ave., 675 Merrimon Ave.). We enjoyed some quality slices that had a nice cheese blend and a hint of seasoning at the Coxe Avenue location. In addition to good pizza, ABC also makes great beer and has an outside area for gatherings and games. The Merrimon location, the original Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company, has a movie theater, fun game room and is a great place for parties and such.

The eighth and final pizza joint we visited was the quaint and homey Blue Mountain Pizza (55 North Main St., Weaverville). The slices are very good, big and extra cheesy and the environment is warm and welcoming. A small stage graces the room and behind the counter a sign reads, “Friends gather here," which is indicative of the vibe. The kids were given a big complimentary chocolate-chip cookie and a full and satisfied belly was the end result.

Without a doubt, Asheville has an excellent variety of eateries, and pizzerias should be marked boldly on the list. We had great fun during our slice expedition and also wanted to apologize for not hitting other great spots such as Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria, Mellow Mushroom, Eddie Spaghetti, Nona Mia, Marco’s Pizzeria and the other pizza possibilities that fall within our local belt buckles. Next time, we hope!

— Want to take a shot at your own review? We welcome submissions, and just may print yours! Send your food news, tips and reviews to Mackensy Lunsford at food@mountainx.com.

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