WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
Theo’s created a stir when they opened a few years ago on Magazine Street, making pizzas in a stone oven and creating some offbeat combinations with entertaining names. It’s a measure of how far the standards for pizza in New Orleans have come (we are not historically a great pizza town) that Theo’s seems merely above average. Ten years ago we would have called it brilliant.
The crust is the key to a great pizza, and Theo’s does a better job than most with its firm, crisp, medium-thin crusts than most other pizzerias. Most of the time. I have had underbaked and overbaked pizzas here. Also oversauced and undersauced. The quality of the ingredients is beyond reproach, with a large array of vegetables. Not only the usual spinach, mushrooms, and onions, but also squash, Anaheim peppers, and banana peppers. Beware of loading too many vegetables, which throw off a lot of water as they bake. That stiff crust stands up to it, but there are limits. Salads and sandwiches are well made and oversize for the prices.
Greg Dietz opened the original Theo’s on Magazine Street in 2004. It came back quickly after the hurricane, and that boosted the restaurant’s popularity quickly. The second location in Mid-City opened in 2009, with a third in the Elmwood area in 2012.
The original location feels good: a dining room with interesting modern design in an old storefront. Tables are in two small rooms; the front one has windows opening onto the sidewalk, where more than a few people may be waiting on a very busy night. You order at the counter and they bring the pies out to you. The new location is a bit more spacious, brighter, and more squeaky-clean. The staff is something less than rigidly attentive.
Bread sticks with mozzarella and garlic
Stuffed bread sticks
»Super soaked salad (artichokes and olives)
Sweet spinach salad
»Turkey and mozzarella sub
»Pizzas to order, plus these house specials:
»The Expert (olive oil, garlic, spinach, mozzarella, tomatoes, purple onion, bacon)
»Buffalo chicken pizza
»Jammer’s Original (tomato sauce, Canadian bacon, mushrooms, onions, banana peppers, goat cheese, mozzarella)
Spicy Mexican chicken pizza
The Eccentric (olive oil, garlic, spinach, feta, pepper-jack, mozzarella, chicken, jalapeños, yellow squash, spicy tomatoes and Anaheim peppers)
FOR BEST RESULTS
The four-cheese pizza is exceptionally good, and does so by repressing the urge to load the thing down with too much cheese.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
The pizzas would come out better if the oven were even hotter than it already is. I don’t see the blistery bubbles that are the sign of a really hot baking. The toppings are a little more liquid than ideal–another thing that could be solved by cranking up the heat. The “Meathead” pizza includes just about every meat commonly used on pizza to create a train wreck of flavors. But some (my wife, for example) love that.
FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.
- Dining Environment
- Consistency -1
- Value +1
- Attitude +1
- Wine & Bar
- Hipness +1
- Local Color +1
- Sidewalk tables
- Open Sunday lunch and dinner
- Open Monday lunch and dinner
- Open all afternoon
- Quick, good meal
- Good for children
- Easy, nearby parking
- No reservations