Today’s the day, Zoli’s fans. Hot grandmas are coming to town at 5 p.m. (If you think hot grandmas are actually people, you clearly aren’t one of the 1,439 folks who like the Facebook page for Zoli’s NY Pizza Tavern.) Back in February, we told you that Jay Jerrier was opening a pizza place for “people who hate Cane Rosso.” Well, it’s official. Jerrier is the smartest cookie in town. He’s dominated the Neopolitan pizza scene in Dallas, and now he’s bringing us old school New York slices to Oak Cliff. His new restaurant, which took over the old BEE Enchilada space, is going to be packed like sardines in about 6 hours. It’s going to be insane.
So, before you head over and take 20 minutes to order because you’re an indecisive person, do us all a favor and consider these five things before you hold up the line. Really. It’s worth reading this guide. Save time and your babymaker from getting punched by some wild-eyed, pizza-crazy guy who has liked every. single. Facebook. photo. of. Zoli’s.
You know who you are.
1. How to order
It works like Torchy’s. You go in and order at the counter, get a little number card with a photo of Jay Jerrier’s dog on it, secure a table, and then someone will bring out your pies. “It’s my first time with fast casual,” says Jerrier. “We really want this to be a slice joint.”
2. What to order
Obviously, start with pizza. If you don’t, you’re a total dingdong. The grandmas are Jerrier’s favorite. “They’re a game-changer,” he says. No one else in Dallas makes these crispy-on-the-bottom, pillowy-on-top pizzas. Maybe in the suburbs, but not in Dallas. The edges of these pies are caramelized and they’re topped off with tangy, salty, tomato-y perfection.
The Sicilian pizzas are covered in mozzarella and Sicilian sauce, and made by sealing up the dough in a trash bag to ensure a perfect pie crust. The traditional NY style slices are easy to pick up with one hand, as proven by my friend and pizza partner, Bradford Pearson.
Sidenote: Brad is from New York. He eats a lot of pizza. As soon as he ate a slice of Zoli’s white pie (ricotta cheese, pepper, shaved garlic slices), he said, “I’m jealous of that pizza.” Or something like that. Now, Brad is a fine-looking fella with above-average smarts. For him to envy Zoli’s pizza… that’s kind of a big deal.
3. What to order (besides pizza)
Definitely go for one of the sandwiches. I’d choose the meatball parm, if I were you. The meatballs – which execuchef Dino makes from pork, veal, beef, and pancetta – are light-colored and huge. Jerrier gets the sandwich bread from La France Bakery, and the rolls are always served with slightly charred edges. A side of zucchini fries come with every sandwich. Dip ‘em into the house-made jalapeno ranch sauce and you’re gold. You’ll be happy the rest of the day if you order a slice of tiramisu cake, too. 100% guaranteed.
4. Buy a buddy a slice
The fun thing about Zoli’s is that you can walk in and eat a free slice of pizza. So far, you have to be either Tim Rogers, Troy Aikman, or Chuck Norris to do that. If you buy your friends some pizza, though, their names can end up on that Wall of Fame, too.
5. Extra tidbits and background info
- Zoli’s is the name of Jerrier’s first dog.
- The unicorn head on the wall is an inside joke. People like to ask Jerrier what his secret ingredient is. He tells them unicorn tears. Hence, the weird decoration.
- The patio outside is nice and shady. It’s right underneath a tree. There will be no live music. Jerrier says he’s too old for that.
- Zoli’s is only open from 5 to 10 p.m. this week. Hours will expand later.
- “We’re not doing anything gluten-free. Let us get the regular pizza right first,” says Jerrier. “I’m afraid we’re going to run out of stuff ’cause it’s not a big space. But I think it’s going to be fun. More fun than Cane Rosso.”