New kind of crispy pizza from Northeast is slinging north of Fort Worth
There's a new kind of pizza in Dallas-Fort Worth, with New England roots. It's a unique, niche-style of pizza popular in a specific region in Massachusetts, and it's coming to us via Mission Pizza, a pop-up that resides every weekend in Denton, at Herf's Denton County Taphouse at Rayzor Ranch, in the Winco plaza, 2655 W University Dr. #1031.
Mission does what is called "South Shore bar pizza," a crispy, cheesy style that originated in the bars of the South Shore of Massachusetts, southeast of Boston. Mission Pizza founder Steve North grew up in that area, and says it's served by dozens of bars and restaurants.
"Debate rages about which pub serves the best version of this pizza," North says. "I’ve tried several and can assure you that they're all mouth-wateringly delicious."
Food writer Kerry Byrne calls South Shore bar pizza "a proud blue-collar culinary tradition in the pubs, taverns, dive bars, and working-class watering holes in the communities south of Boston" that became a COVID-era sensation — not unlike the Detroit-style pizza craze that swept across DFW during the pandemic.
South Shore bar pizza:
- is an exceptionally rich pie with a crisp, buttery, almost biscuity crust; crushed tomato sauce; and cheddar cheese, it's gotta be cheddar, plus toppings
- is a pan pizza, like Chicago-style or Detroit-style, meaning it's cooked in a pan, like a tart (rather than on a stone or oven floor)
- has sauce and cheese spread all the way to the edge, so there's no exposed crust
- has crisp edges, similar to Detroit-style, with the melted cheese and burned-on tomato sauce forming a "lacy" pattern commonly referred to as "laced edges" or "burnt edges"
North moved with his wife Lais to Texas in 2016, just in time to witness DFW's pizza revolution with all sorts of newcomers offering new kinds of pies.
"It's a great time for pizza, with all different styles starting to catch on," he says. "But no one was doing this style, and it was a style I was very familiar with. I have a full-time job, so I started this the way a lot of these craft-type pizza concepts do, operating out of a commercial kitchen and selling it in my neighborhood, to see if people would be interested."
His lineup includes varieties such as:
- Triple P, with pastrami and pickle
- Fig & Pig, with a fig spread base, chopped white onion, fresh jalapeños, crispy bacon, and thinly sliced prosciutto
- BBQ brisket, with brisket, jalapenos, and chopped onion
- Roni Rebel, with crispy pepperoni, chopped white onion, crushed red pepper, goat cheese, and hot honey
He also dabbles in a controversial topping with his Hawaiian pizza with Canadian bacon, jalapeño, hot honey, and pineapple — a topping that people tend to love or hate.
Mission also has a charitable component, with a pledge to donate one pizza for every 10 sold to a person or family in need.
North works with a small deck oven with a limited output, fine-tuning his technique, and serving only on weekends: Friday nights, plus Saturday and Sunday afternoon-evening. (Note that as of press time, due to winter weather, they will not be open Friday, February 4 and hours for Saturday are TBD; watch their Facebook page for updates.)
Herf's, with its extensive selection of Texas beers and wines, plus non-alcoholic beverages, has plenty of space in their bar, dining room, or outdoor seating area.
"I knew this style of pizza was special growing up, but I wasn't sure how people would take it," he says. "Most comments on our social media posts are extremely positive, but there's always one person who sees those laced edges where the sauce and cheese meet the edge of the pan and caramelize, and says the pizza's burnt. Once they eat it, they love it though, and almost always say the edges are their favorite part!"