Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Luna Pizzeria and a dog named Barnaby, what do they have in common...

... an owner.
Mushroom pizza sans cheese

Jeff Gale, owner of Barnaby’s Cafe and Brown Bag Deli, has opened a pizzeria in a strip mall on Richmond at Kirby.  

I have eaten there twice. The first time, I went there, I met my two favorite tasty lunching pals, Lisa and Chibi. Lisa recommended the place. She and her husband, Chris discovered it a few weeks ago and they have made several visits since. On my first visit I had a salad. Excellent. Their salads are generous. They come in two sizes small and large. $5 & $7 respectively.  I had the small Chopped Salad which is ample for a fair sized appetite with grilled chicken added.  It is a nice combination of iceberg and romain lettuce, red cabbage, carrots, artichoke, Kalmata olives, provolone (I nixed the cheese, lactose intolerant dag nabbit) sopressata, grape tomatoes, cucumber all tossed in a very fresh zingy house vinaigrette. I think Lisa had the Italian sausage, roasted pepper sandwich served in a toasted hoagie bun. It looked delicious, she said it was. Chibi had the pepperoni sausage pizza, irresistibly tempting.  I am a huge bread fan, but it doesn’t always set well with me. No, I’m not a celiac, (TMI), but wheat does seem to be a bit bothersome to my system.  That being said, the pizza crust looked so good. Golden, bubbled appropriately, I begged Chibi for a taste. He relented. My, my, my it was good. Which brings me to my second trip to Luna Pizzeria. I just had to have a pizza.
Chibi's favorite, pepperoni and sweet Italian sausage 
I settled on the Mushroom pizza with baby portabellas, shitake, oyster and button mushrooms combined with spinach, rosemary topped of with whipped ricotta (nixed the ricotta and mozzarella-lactose intolerant, oh my). I was very pleased with my choice. Nicely seasoned  tomato sauce that has a great flavor but doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients.  The veggies were baked with the dough, so they are not over done or dried out, allowing the freshness to speak in loud whispers. 

But, it is the crust that is the thing that holds all the tastes together. It is the best dang crust I think I’ve had in Houston and I’ve had some good crust. I asked the manager about it. He said that it comes from a family owned bakery in the Heights called Angela’s Oven. This is what their Web site says about their bake goods.

“All of our bread and pastries and are handcrafted without the use of  preservatives or dough conditioners. We use only unbleached, unbromated bread flours.” Angela’s Oven

No wonder this crust is so good. I also noticed the pizzas are baked in an electric oven. Of course, the big thing is to boast that you are baking the pizza in wood burning or gas ovens and trust me that is a most wonderful way to bake your pizza, but I was trying to get a handle on why this crust was so great without that, so I asked why they didn’t use gas or wood ovens.  The manager told me that the building management does not allow gas or wood burning ovens, only electric. Angela’s Oven has made allowances in the dough to accommodate the electric oven. Impressive. It is great crust. I think, I have said that a couple of times. I like the fact that the dough/electric oven problem worked out so great, because it is a collaborative effort between an artisan bread maker and an artisan restaurateur. Problem solving at its best.

The other thing I noticed today was a gorgeous turquoise Le Creuset Dutch Oven on the counter where the orders are taken. It was sitting on an electric (of course) hot plate. It was warm to the touch. I asked the manager about it (he was very patient with me, I do ask a lot of questions). He told me it was full of individually wrapped made-fresh-daily chocolate chip cookies. I just about swooned, but passed on trying one, because I had had my quota of wheat for the week.
Hiding inside are warm chocolate chip cookies. OMG
(Blog Update: Here is the good news, I went back to Luna Pizzeria today for a birthday lunch and I was treated to one of the cookies hiding inside that beautiful pot. Excellent. The dark chocolate chips where already melting, blending inside the cookie, making it extra moist. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Make note this is a goodly sized cookie and could easily be shared, but I ate the whole thing. It's my birthday after all.  I found out the cookies are made by The Dessert Gallery. There is one catty-corner across the street from Luna Pizzeria. Thank you David and Emily.) 

There was one other sweet detail about how things are served. The pizza condiments of parmesan cheese, chopped dried hot pepper and spice are served on a saucer. The cheese is sliced and the spice is a fresh sprig of oregano. It’s a nice touch.

The menu is small in items, but huge on flavor.
The menu in its entirety.

Quote of the Day: “This is extremely tasty pizza.” Chibi Yaqi

Luna Pizzeria
3435 Kirby
Houston, TX 77098

Angela's Oven
204 Aurora St.
Houston, TX 77008

The Dessert Gallery
3600 Kirby Dr, Houston, TX 77098
(713) 522-9999

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