Pizza is such a controversial and polarizing subject: thin crust versus thick, New York versus Chicago style, red sauce versus white—everyone has an opinion on what’s the best and what’s the dregs. I’ve put off reviewing pizza for a long time because it is so subjective! But here we go. Better late than never, right? Note: the appropriate soundtrack for reading this article is Louis Prima’s “Angelina.”

Mid City Pizza (4400 Banks St.)
(Note: Mid City Pizza also has a location at 6307 South Miro St., but I haven’t been there yet! This review applies to the Banks St. location only.) It feels almost unethical for me to recommend Mid City Pizza because I legit go there once a week; I already know they’re my ride-or-die. But I can’t talk about pizza without discussing them. The original Mid City Pizza was in the little spot behind Banks Street Bar until they moved across the street into the former Crescent Pie and Sausage location (fun fact—this spot was also formerly home to an electrician, a radio and TV store, and a men’s workwear store, going back to the 1920s). It’s a fun, homey spot, with rather appealing Ninja Turtles/Simpsons themed decor. My fave pizzas are the Margherita (because I like to keep it classic and because I love Buffalo mozzarella), the Hawaiian (because I like pineapple and jalapeños on a pizza—a fact which will likely invalidate this whole review to some of you. Sorry not sorry, pineapples do belong on a pizza), and the Mid City Meat Monster (because I like meat). The crust is thin without being New York cracker-style, the cheese is always substantial and perfectly greasy, and their sauce is just a little bit sweet, without going overboard. And they have vegan cheese, so you can even take your veg-head friends with you! The last time I popped in there they were playing both Selena and The Muppets Take Manhattan, so it’s like they knew I was coming. Bonus points for having very good chicken wings. 10/10 Ride or Dies

Echo (3200 Banks St.)
Echo is owned by the same folks who run my beloved 1,000 Figs, so when I heard they were opening a pizza place, I was so excited. 1,000 Figs is one of my favorite places to bring out-of-towners, because it’s excellent and is absolutely not what folks expect from New Orleans (see my review from March 2016). Echo is in a very charming building; it was one of the old A&P’s from the 1920s that went on to be a barroom from the 50s through the 80s—they also renovated the back building, an old dry cleaners! The pizza offerings are fancy: these aren’t your mama’s toppings, unless your mama is Alice Waters, I guess. I tried the Arugula, the Mushroom, the Miso, and the Margherita. The Arugula is a white pizza, kind of: it’s mozzarella, ricotta, arugula, and lemon rind. It tasted like flatbread with ricotta and arugula on it. The Mushroom came with shiitake, oyster, and criminis. It was fine, even though the mushrooms had been cooked to the point of sponginess. The Miso was the least pizza-y of all, consisting of onions, mushrooms, lemon, and miso. I come to these things with an open mind and an open heart, but this one was a big fat “no” from me. I didn’t understand the flavors together and the miso made everything so salty that it verged on inedible. Margherita is a classic, so I thought I knew what I was getting into, but it ended up being disappointing. There were three slices of freshwater mozzarella haphazardly distributed about, way too much lackluster sauce, and basil that was burnt to a crisp. I went back a couple weeks later and ordered just the Margherita to make sure they weren’t having an off day, and there was even less cheese that time and the basil was completely charred to nothingness. Echo’s whole thing is “healthy” pizzas—and I’m sure they appeal to someone—but I’m just not the audience for them. Echo, it’s not you, it’s me. 3/10 Alice Waterses

The appropriate soundtrack for reading this article is Louis Prima’s “Angelina.”

Mo’s Pizza (1112 Ave H, Westwego)
Mo’s is one of those places I’d been hearing about for years: a tale of a far-off land that I would never actually get to visit. Well, at least until I married a Westbank native. Dreams do come true, y’all! Here’s the thing, though: Mo’s is way on the WB, so I was pretty skeptical about whether it would be worth the drive. I’m not sure what I expected, but it wasn’t a nondescript, windowless, metal-clad warehouse. Well, OK. Inside, it’s noisy and seemingly always packed. And after eating one slice, I get why. What Mo’s lacks in aesthetic charm, it makes up for in some extremely good pizza. Seriously, Mo’s is excellent. The crust is thick, soft, and doughy; the sauce is very sweet; the cheese has a nice meatiness to it; and the toppings, while all very traditional, are also surprisingly high quality. The sausage and meatballs are made in-house! Let’s talk sauce: a friend who grew up in New Jersey claims that this very sweet type of tomato sauce is “Sicilian style” and that Mo’s was the closest thing she’d had to a New Jersey pizza, outside of New Jersey. I can’t say if that’s indeed the case, but I thought I’d throw it out there in case there’s anyone who can confirm that for me! All the pizzas are of the chooseyour-own-adventure variety. I highly recommend Italian sausage with banana peppers. Sidenote: the lasagna here is my new fave in town; the meat sauce is sweet and sublime. 10/10 Far Off Lands

Homegrown Pizza (6325 Elysian Fields Ave.)
Homegrown is a brand-spankingnew restaurant that opened in the former Munch Factory spot. I went there with another UNO alum, and we both think this was also the Chimes Bookstore back in the early-to-mid-2000s. Anyway, it’s bright and cheery inside, with a semi-questionable green and black color scheme. We ordered three of the “Bayou Self” (personal) pizzas—Rocket, Supreme, and Spicy Mike, as well as the cheesy bread appetizer. The cheesy bread was excellent and possibly worth the trip just for that. On to the pizzas! The Rocket pizza was salami, ricotta, arugula, and lemon. None of us cared for it; the ricotta was bitter and none of the flavors really worked together. The Supreme tasted exactly like a supreme pizza that would be served in the cafeteria of an elementary school. The Spicy Mike was the best of the bunch: hot peppers, hot capicola, and honey. At first, the honey threw me off, but then I got used to it, and it actually worked very nicely with the capicola. A note—the “Bayou Self” size pizzas are very small. They’re advertised as 8” pies, but they were literally smaller across than my dining companion’s hand. She was still hungry after, and went to get a cheeseburger, which is never a good sign. I wanted to like Homegrown Pizza, but they just aren’t what I’m looking for pizzawise. I realized while writing this review, that apparently I’m a pizza traditionalist. Who knew? 5/10 Elementary Schools

illustrations BEN CLAASSEN III