This Restaurant Wins Readers’ Choice: Best Pizza in Fort Worth
Growing up on the East Coast, Charlie Green wanted to bring an exceptional New York pizza product to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. After tasting dozens of pizzas, he met Sal Vatore Olivella, a fifth generation pizza maker from one of the oldest families in Naples, Italy.
“The family was one of a handful of people who practically invented pizza as we know it today,” Green said.
Named after Olivella himself, they opened a restaurant near Southern Methodist University.
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Fifteen years later, and now with three locations on the subway and a fourth under construction, Olivella’s Pizza & Wine came out on top in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Readers’ Choice contest for best pizza. Nearly 29,000 votes were cast by Star-Telegram readers this month on our vote of 15 restaurants, all of which were nominated best pizzerias around Fort Worth.
In the final round, Olivella’s — known for its classic Neapolitan round pizza and Roman-style thin crust — garnered 47% of the total votes, followed by Pizza Buzz, Mama’s Pizza, i Fratelli Pizza Fort Worth and Buffalo Bros.
Olivella’s operates a small, mostly take-out restaurant on Camp Bowie Boulevard, as well as the University Park restaurant near SMU and a third in northeast Dallas. The fourth site under construction is in the Dallas Deep Ellum entertainment district.
Olivella’s, which employs about 50 people, offers a menu with an extensive selection of hard-to-find wine brands, salads and pasta dishes in addition to pizza.
“An important distinction between what we do and what other very good pizza makers do is that for this part of the country we are perhaps the only real authentic Neapolitan pizza, as they have been doing for 100 years”, said Green.
Success in the Fort Worth market didn’t happen overnight. Fort Worth’s first location, opened in 2016 in the village of Camp Bowie, closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sales plummeted and the Fort Worth restaurant had to look for a smaller space, Green said. Olivella has moved to a new location at 4910 Camp Bowie Blvd. can accommodate 12-15 people and focuses primarily on take-out and delivery orders.
“One of the great things about what we do is that our food ships very well for takeout,” said Mike Lestingi, Vice President of Olivella. “During the pandemic, when every restaurant had to learn to take out, we already had that in place. We just did 100% of this takeout business during the pandemic. »
Two years after the worst of the COVID-19 shutdowns, Olivella’s is knocking down the wall next door and expanding to include a new dining room that seats about 60 people. The renovated space is expected to open in September and will be around 2,500 to 3,000 square feet, Green said.
“The challenge was how to capitalize on dining room catering while maintaining that take-out business that you developed,” Green said. “We were luckier than some. We didn’t face some of the staffing issues that many concepts have. We have very dedicated employees and a great culture.
While Olivella earned the readers’ choice, it’s clearly not the only pizzeria Fort Worth locals love. Pizza Buzz, an independent family restaurant north of Watauga on Basswood Boulevard, received more than 6,500 votes in the final round.
Former postal worker Jay Hansji bought Pizza Buzz in 2014 after being laid off. He had no experience in the trade. With the help of his wife and two children, Hansji began experimenting with making his own dough and turning traditional Indian dishes into pizzas.
Hansji’s speech for the operation was to present something to the community that no one had done before, he said. Pizza Buzz customers can enjoy Hansji’s award-winning Tandoori Chicken Pizza and the popular Dill Pickle Pizza on freshly made dough fermented for 72 hours.
“My heart is in this recipe,” Hansji said.
Pizza Buzz is primarily a take-out restaurant with limited seating, but Hansji hopes to one day expand, open more than one location and hire outside employees. For now, the restaurant is only a family “labor of love”.
Readers who nominated Pizza Buzz mentioned the friendliness of Hansji and his family. “I don’t think I’ve ever been there without Jay and his wife greeting me when I walk in,” one said. “Their tandoori chicken pizza is such a unique item, and it’s absolutely amazing!”
Another reader raved about the dough that rises for three days — “and the toppings are FRESH. You can taste the love the owner puts into every pizza.
Coming in at number three, Mama’s Pizza has been in Fort Worth for over 50 years and is known for its thick rolled crusts made daily. There are nine locations in Fort Worth, Arlington, Burleson, Granbury, Mansfield, North Richland Hills and Hudson Oaks.
Location on Berry Street near TCU was under renovation from mid-May through July and has just reopened so customers can enjoy a full menu of specialty crusts, salads, subs and wings . Mama’s will open its 10th address in Dallas in early August.
“Mama’s has been around for so long, it’s a household name throughout North Texas,” company president Jordan Scott said.
Many readers agree.
“Mama’s Pizza has been a staple in my family throughout my life,” wrote one person who suggested the restaurant. “Eating their iconic pizza takes me back to my childhood. Loving!”
Another said: ‘Mama’s Pizza uses REAL cheese and an amazing tomato sauce. The crust is also delicious and you can get it with garlic butter. We have enjoyed their pizza since we moved to Texas in 1984.”
I Fratelli Pizza’s has three restaurants in Fort Worth – in Fairmount, off Southwest Loop 820 and on Western Center Blvd. He also has restaurants in Grapevine, Keller and Southlake.
Readers who named i Fratelli Pizza complimented its crust, including a gluten-free crust “that tastes just like regular crust.” Another wrote: “A thin crust, hand formed and baked to a chewy crunch. The topping options are plentiful and always fresh. Mostly square shape, so cross sections are manageable.
Buffalo Bros has two restaurants – one on South University Drive near TCU, and the other in Sundance Square along Throckmorton Street. One fan wrote, “TCU and Sundance locations offer authentic Western New York pizza. Some of the best in Texas.
Here are the other 10 restaurants that received the most Readers’ Choice nominations.
- Bek’s Nizza Pizza, 965 W. Lamar Blvd., Arlington
- Cane Rosso, 815 W. Magnolia Ave., Fort Worth; 200 N. East St., Arlington
- Coal Vines, 1251 E. Southlake Blvd., Southlake
- Fort Brewery, 2737 Tillar Street, Fort Worth
- Nizza Pizza Hysen, 401 University Drive, Fort Worth
- Parton’s Pizza, 2813 Cherry Lane, Fort Worth
- Perrotti’s Pizza, 3021 Greene Ave. and 5228 Sycamore School Road, Fort Worth
- Picchi Pacchi Pizzeria, 411 W. 7th St., Fort Worth
- Pizza Snob, 3051 S. University Drive, Fort Worth
- Zoli’s, 3501 Hulen St, Fort Worth
AFTER: Check out these 2022 Readers’ Choice winners.
This story was originally published July 21, 2022 5:00 a.m.