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Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Life + Arts

Pizza worth losing parking over

Pizza and college students have long enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship. There aren’t many foods as accessible or, more importantly, as cheap as pizza. With most students being generally poor, hungry, and unwilling to look hard or far for their next meal, pizza and students is a marriage based on like needs, and it works.

Dolce Vita Pizzeria and Enoteca, a bustling Westheimer hot spot only a short drive from campus, proudly caters to students while offering gourmet pizzas. By serving their pizzas with cured Italian meats, exotic cheeses and every topping from clams to pears and then letting the pie simmer in wood-burning ovens, Dolce Vita has clearly chosen freshness, with a slightly higher cost, above the dirt-cheap yet barely edible stuff too many students settle for. Once having tried a Dolce Vita pizza, it’s hard to go back.

Admittedly, walking into Dolce Vita for the first time sends mixed signals. It’s inexcusable enough for any eatery to be blaring bands like Three Days Grace across their speakers, but when it’s a valet-only restaurant with an artsy d’eacute;cor and an exhaustive wine list, calling the atmosphere conflicted might be the understatement of the century. Thankfully, that’s often the last thing on anyone’s mind when the food arrives.

At first glance, the degree of choice on the menu is a little intimidating. There are dozens of antipasto, or ‘before the meal,’ dishes to choose from, including calamari, mushrooms and the typical selection of cheeses and cured meats. There’s a lot of good stuff to be had here, but it can be somewhat hit-or-miss. While the fried chicken and sausage meatballs are spectacular, $5 for a few roasted cauliflowers or artichokes doesn’t scream value.

But the pizza is Dolce Vita’s biggest draw and it doesn’t disappoint. Most are topped with cheeses and meats that are hard to recognize and sometimes harder to pronounce (just point to the ‘salsiccia e friarielli’ when ordering from the waiter), but all of them arrive perfectly crisp and bursting with flavor. The robiola pizza combines pieces of soft, melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese with pancetta and leeks, while the mix of prosciutto, arugula, and mozzarella on another pie is enough to redefine one’s meaning of happiness.

With wine and dessert, it’s easy to drop more than $20-30 a person at Dolce Vita, and while the price is a far cry from Domino’s, so is the quality. With equally fresh and delicious dishes at a short distance from campus, it may be time for college students to expect more from their pizza.

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