Saturday, April 30, 2011

Aroma Pizza Cafe

6285 Bissonnet @ Hillcroft


This is the newest addition to the small list of Kosher (Dairy) restaurants on the SW side. Located in the same strip center with Sheba Ethiopian Cafe, Hoagie's and More Pupusa, Pho and Banh Mi shop, and El Reyna Tortilleria and Birreria, it's a small, sleekly decorated little cafe. They have a little bigger menu of pizzas than nearby Saba's plus salads, sandwiches, paninis, focaccia, burekas and pastas plus a couple of breakfast dishes. They also serve coffees made with Katz Velvet Espresso.

The Kosher restaurant scene has been active lately with the addition of this one, relocation of Suzie's and remodeling of Saba's that I haven't checked out yet.

There are a number of interesting pizzas. I tried the Sweet Potato Pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, thin slices of sweet potato mimicking pepperoni or Canadian bacon in appearance and thin, wispy strips of red onion on a sesame seed crust. This was driving me crazy with the smell on the way home. The menu hadn't emphasized the sesame seed crust and I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the box; I've been on a sesame seed kick lately - sesame laddu, sesame crackers, sesame bread sticks - so this was a plus.

There was a time, decades ago, thankfully, when I was of the persuasion that extra cheese made everything better and always got a pizza loaded with toppings and extra cheese. I'm sure if I was still in that mode I would think that stuffed crust or 4 cheese pizzas were the greatest thing since, well, pizza, but my tastes have simplified over the years and I now prefer pizzas with minimal toppings, sometimes just cheese, sauce and fresh tomatoes. This one was very much in line with my tastes with a nice balance of ingredients. The slight sweetness of the sweet potatoes and caramelized onion strips contrasted with the nuttiness and crunchiness of the seeds and the saltiness of the cheese and tomato. I would have liked the crust a little crispier but I liked this one.

Another one that sounded good was the Balkan pizza - sauce, mozzarella, feta, eggplant, zataar and sesame seeds. This one had very strong, competing flavors that didn't work well for me. The zataar overwhelmed pretty much everything else and the combination of mozzarella and feta also was too much. I was mostly interested in the eggplant as Middle Eastern cuisines do interesting things with eggplant but there was a skimpy amount and I could hardly taste it. I'm sure this works for some people but I didn't like it nearly as much as the sweet potato.

They also have a Red Hot Chilli Pepper pizza with jalapenos and black pepper that I haven't tried and several other combinations plus a pretty standard array of toppings to choose from as add-ons but no meats, of course.

The salads I've seen being served in-house have been large and the paninis have looked good.

Being Kosher it's a little pricier. Ten inch pizzas start at $8.50 and go up to $20 for an 18 inch. The only meat available is tuna, as a salad and a sandwich. And of course they're closed for Jewish Holy Days although they do open an hour after Shabbat and stay open until midnight on Saturday.

Aroma Pizza Cafe

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