Eats Beat

The best pan pizza in the U.S. might be in Fort Worth. With a kids’ playground, too

Zoli’s “Dope-Sopp” soppressata pizza was named America’s best pan pizza at the Caputo Cup contest in Las Vegas.
Zoli’s “Dope-Sopp” soppressata pizza was named America’s best pan pizza at the Caputo Cup contest in Las Vegas. bud@star-telegram.com

The new Zoli’s Pizza has America’s best pan pizza, and a trophy to prove it.

The “Dope” soppressata pan pizza won the annual Caputo Cup pizza cookoff in Vegas, a great way to open the new Zoli’s pizza emporium and children’s playground at 3501 Hulen St. in west Fort Worth.

If you never went to a Dallas or Addison Zoli’s, it’s the crisp-crust or pan version of owner Jay Jerrier’s Neapolitan pizzeria, Cane Rosso.

You’ll find Chef Lee Hunzinger’s same premium toppings, spicy-sweet flavors and specialties like Heim Barbecue pizzas.

But you’ll also find a 1,500-square-foot play patio for kids, plus a Cow Tipping Creamery ice cream stand.

That makes it a compelling new west side attraction.

It’s such a playground, some families come almost every night.

The “Dope” pan pizza ($19, or $17 as a round medium-crust) leads the menu, simply because it has a big trophy on a corner of the bar. Besides hot soppressata salami, it has ricotta and a spicy soppressata marmalade.

(The Caputo Cup is Caputo flour’s annual contest to honor the nation’s best pizzas. In 2017, Cane Rosso was the national independent pizzeria of the year.)

Zoli’s 16 pizzas also include the Heim Time!; a Buffalo chicken pizza with Gorgonzola; a roasted chicken-bacon-ranch pizza; and a “Meat Fight” pizza, with pepperoni and brisket seasoned with Waxahachie-based Meat Church Holy Cow rub.

The pizzas range from $14 to $21. Eventually, Zoli’s will add lunch with a $13 10-inch pizza and salad.

The menu at both Zoli’s and Cane Rosso also now includes a variety of pasta dishes. At Zoli’s, the pastas include spaghetti carbonara with roasted corn, chicken fettuccine Alfredo and rigatoni alla vodka with sausage.

When the original Zoli’s opened in Dallas, it was billed as “New York” pizza. Now it’s just great pizza with the same familiar toppings as Cane Rosso (Ezzo pepperoni, habanero honey, a rich house tomato sauce).

The new restaurant also serves fried chicken sandwiches, burgers, salads and ice cream.

A double-double cheese and cheddar burger (the “O.D. Burger,” $15) also can come with an optional extra layer of fried Mozzarella sticks.

There’s an appetizer menu with waffle fries and other specialties. (Appetizers are $2 off on Mondays.)

Austin-based Cow Tipping Creamery next door serves superpremium soft-serve cones and shakes with a choice of 22 toppings.

Zoli’s is open for dinner nightly, with lunch hours to come; Hulen Street at Houghton Avenue, 817-402-0050, zolispizza.com/fort-worth.

Columnist Bud Kennedy is a Fort Worth guy who covered high school football at 16 and has moved on to two Super Bowls, seven political conventions and 15 Texas Legislature sessions. Since 1985, he has also written more than 2,000 “Eats Beat” columns about Texas dining, restaurants and food.
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