Updated at 4:43 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 22 to correct the name of the Bianco.
Murals line the brick buildings that fence in the patio of Southside Pizza: one, a woman in bright colors lying on her side, relaxed, bathing in the sun; the other, a slice of pepperoni pizza that shows the weight of the cheese on it as it pulls away from the pie.
Both accurately illustrate my experience at Southside Pizza, a calm cutout in the scheme of a growing Main Street culture. As families walked up Main Street and an unofficial hacky-sack game formed in the parking lot across from the patio, I felt a part of a community of people and I could see how the space would grow with warmer months to become a mecca for dog owners and residents of Southside looking for a quick bite.
› Where: Southside Pizza, 612 E. Main St
› Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily
› Prices: $6.25 house salad to $18-$28 full pies
› Phone: 423-498-2193
When I dined on the patio of Southside, it was a calm Sunday. A few people were inside the establishment, which has a handful of tables and a bar opposite the serving counter, all painted in a bright, electric blue. The picnic tables outside on the patio are the place to eat, weather permitting, or for an avid dog-watcher like myself.
Service is minimal. Go up to the counter, order a slice or a whole pie, swipe your card and seat yourself.
I was impressed by the friendliness of the staff. The man who served me was a fellow Highland Park resident, and like an episode of hipster "Leave It to Beaver," we chatted about the changes happening and construction coming around our corner near CGLA. He brought out my slice when it was ready and thanked me for coming in.
I had a slice of the Bianco, one of the options to choose from in the display on the counter. Bianco is a 'white' pizza, meaning that it doesn't have traditional red sauce. It's topped with shredded mozzarella, roasted garlic and dollops of ricotta — perfect for me, a che-gan (n. a cheese-eating vegan). I also added a Classic Coke for the pizza-parlor feel, and my total was around $6, before tip.
If you're looking to grab a slice with meat, the Mamma Mia is highly recommended. It's a traditional pie with red sauce, meatballs, mozzarella, basil and ricotta.
For larger parties, Southside Pizza offers 20-inch pies to dine in or order out. A full pie of the Bianco comes in at $21; the Veg Head, with bell pepper, red onion, artichokes, green olives, mozzarella and red sauce, $22; the Firestorm, spicy salami, mozzarella, red sauce, hot peppers and a honey drizzle, $24; and the Big Papa is a meat-lover's dream with pepperoni, sausage, meatballs and bacon for $26. Gluten-free and vegan options are available for an extra charge.
You can also make your pie your own with special toppings from the classics — mushrooms, jalapenos, onions — to more adventurous choices such as white truffle oil and Gorgonzola. Or nod to Southside's owners and top your pizza with a Slick's burger. Check the board for individual pricing, but most toppings range from $2.50-$3.50.
Sandwiches and salads are available for those who want something different. Served on an Italian roll, the Gabagool looked to be the most adventurous with capicola, provolone, mortadella, Genoa salami, prosciutto, lettuce, tomato, onion, oregano, oil and vinegar for $10.
Southside Pizza was friendly, and it strikes me as the kind of place I could take out-of-towners, with its personal touches and attention to detail. The pies are slightly more pricey than other joints, but the variety and taste make Southside worth an extra few dollars.
Also, given its spot on Main, I predict that once other businesses start cropping up around it, like Heaven and Ale across the street, Southside will find itself with more foot traffic.
All in all, the ingredients are tasty, which is key for a veggie lover who's been wronged by many a 'sides' menu. But even without amazing pairings, driving by a pizza mural on the way home from work alone is the perfect subliminal message for a cheese lover like myself. Southside Pizza is worth a stop.
Contact Cameron Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6509.