That's Amore Pizzeria
4421 Clearview Pkwy., Metairie, 454-5885; www.thatsamorepizzaonline.com
Lunch Sat. and Sun., dinner daily
Rare local examples of deep-dish pizza, plus New York-style pies
Dull toppings, minimal atmosphere
Distinctively different pizza from two regional traditions
New Orleans doesn't have a distinct pizza tradition, which leaves things wide open for local pizza makers to adopt one style or another. Most end up with a fairly generic model that's too bready to be compared with the broad, thin, famously floppy slices from New York pizzerias and also nowhere near as substantial as the Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas. One unassuming pizzeria in Metairie is making its niche by preparing both of these divergent styles under one roof.
Metairie native Kevin Price and wife Amanda opened That's Amore last spring. An Army buddy from Chicago showed Kevin some tricks for making his hometown's sturdy style of pie and the Prices decided to mix it up a bit by also serving New York style. Neither type is likely to placate people who have been searching for the perfect local facsimile of these regional styles, but they are both good efforts. Plus, That's Amore produces what may be the largest pizzas in town.
It's hard to fathom how big the Prices' 24-inch New York pizza really is until the entire, bubble-pocked pool of baked cheese, sauce and dough appears on the table. Fans of New York-style slices are often found folding them in half the long way, making an ad hoc calzone to contain the pooling grease. At That's Amore, I've seen people work slices into short-lived origami sculpture, folding the huge, pliant canvas of dough at a few different angles so nothing drips. Toppings range from ordinary (pepperoni) to sub-par (canned mushrooms), but the delivery system of mellow, sweet sauce, plentiful cheese and supple crust is satisfying.
One revelation here is how size can change two otherwise identical pizzas. The small version of the New York-style pizza is really a completely different product. The crust is incredibly crisp and thin, as if the toppings were spread over a cracker. Eating it brings an audible crunch from the shattering of stiff crust.
Chicago-style pies come in round or rectangular forms, of which I prefer the suitcase-sized rectangular if only for the four desirable corner pieces, with their perpendicular walls of crust. The heft and girth of each slice are equal to a generous slab of lasagna. Massive amounts of cheese and sauce are involved, but crust is the key. It's like pie crust — thick, textured and flaky. The bottom is especially firm and slightly charred, and the top edges are brittle.
Not much love is evident in the ambiance of That's Amore, which continues a fairly standard low-end suburban strip-mall motif of fake plants, fresh drywall, drop ceilings and unimpeded views of traffic speeding by outside. Amenities are minimal even by the standards of pizza joints. Small pizzas arrive not on pans but on paper plates, which also serve as the place settings.
The menu has a few sandwiches, salads and appetizers, but pizza is the only reason to come here. The best bet for dessert is a visit to Gaspare's, a gelato parlor located in the same strip mall. Just be sure to take home your leftovers, which are inevitable when dealing with such monumentally large pies.