I try to avoid pizza whenever possible, willfully abstaining when at events or work functions where free slices are in abundance. However, it's not the taste that fuels my aversion. A well made pizza is truly a sublime delight to eat. My avoidance instead stems from my desire to minimize the refined carbs in my diet and most pizzas, even of the thin crust variety, have an unnecessary amount of bread.
But master pizza chef Tommy d’Esterhazy of Tommy's Pizza has solved this problem for me. His hand-tossed pizza crusts are so thin that they more closely resemble tortillas than the bread bowls with a bit of cheese and sauce on top that you might get delivered to your door by one of the many large, unmentionable chain pizzerias. Tommy proudly constructs and serves traditional, New York-style pizza to us fortunate residents of the South. And while I know I thumbed my nose at the New York vs. Chicago pizza battle in my post about Al's Pizza a couple months ago because of my adulation of the original Neapolitan variety, it's the New-York style that most resembles this pinnacle of pizza-craft and Tommy's Pizza is about as close as you can get to this symbol of perfection.
Walking into Tommy's, it can be easy to underestimate the quality that you're about to experience. Just glancing at the store front, an unassuming facade in a non-descript strip mall on Southside, it can be easy to simply pass up or write off. And such is the tragedy of the small restaurant. What incentive do you have to stop by other than a desire to act on a whim to explore the unknown? An unfamiliar place; an unglamorous location; a plain name. But there's nothing plain about the food, nothing ordinary about the taste, and taking the minor gamble of stopping by for the first time will earn you a jackpot experience.
It's not just the incredibly thin crusts that get me all worked up about Tommy's Pizza, there's also the super fresh ingredients that still retain so much flavor, even after being cooked in the brick oven; try to get that delivered to your door. And don't wantonly discard the crust as you might do with any ordinary pizza. With a light slathering of garlic butter baked into the crispy bread, you're going to want to savor that little end piece. Please believe me when I say this, and I don't want to downplay the awesomeness of the other fine pizzerias around town, I have not eaten a more delicious pizza in Jacksonville than what I had at Tommy's.
Another thing: when you go into any of the other places around town whose name follows the pattern [some guy's nickname] Pizza, what are the chances that the man whose name graces the sign is actually going to make your food? Probably pretty slim. Well, Tommy himself made my pizza and I hope he never goes on vacation because I'm tempted to invite him to make all of my pizzas from now on.
Not in the mood for pizza? Although I can't offer first-hand advice on the matter, I have it on good authority that the salads, sandwiches, calzones, and various appetizers and entrees are all just as amazing as the pizza. Also, if you're too busy to stop by, you can order online or over the phone and pick it up when it's ready.
Try Tommy's Pizza, you won't regret it. And try more of those unassuming little restaurants you barely notice but pass by everyday. You might find a new favorite that has been within arm's reach for years. Let me know of your discoveries.
4160 Southside Blvd
Jacksonville, FL 32216
(904) 565-1046 (fax)