by Susan Marquez
Some may argue that pizza is the perfect food.
It contains several food groups, including grains, dairy, proteins, vegetables and sometimes even fruit, presented on a hand-held slice.
According to the website pizzafacts.net, the earliest known home of ancient pizza comes from the Italian island of Sicily, where archeologists found remains of 3,000-year-old flattened bread and tools for their manufacture.
Pizzas found on menus around Jackson are much fresher than those found by Italian archaeologists. The ones featured here are all made-to-order and topped with the freshest available ingredients in the City With Soul.
Sal and Mookie’s New York Pizza & Ice Cream Joint– 200 District Boulevard – LeFleur East
Sal and Mookie’s has been dishing up New York-style pizza in Jackson since 2007 when it opened in Fondren.
The popular pizzeria opened franchises on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and Madison, later moving to The District at Eastover.
The pies are enormous with authentic toppings, baked to perfection in brick-lined ovens. Chef Dan Blumenthal collaborated with Jon Pixler for the better part of a year to develop the dough recipe and red sauce for the restaurant, including trips to New York with business partner Jeff Good for pizza-eating research.
The pies at Sal and Mookie’s are named after New York landmarks and people, including the Central Park, Empire State, Penn Station, Meat Packing District, Park Avenue and the Gambino.
The Pizza Shack – 925 East Fortification Street – Belhaven
Dubbed “Mississippi-style pizza,” The Pizza Shack began in 2005, offering artfully made pizzas using dough and sauce made in-house daily.
In addition to the standard options, there are unique offerings, including Andy’s buffalo chicken pizza, chicken curry delight pizza, the Greek pizza, double cheeseburger pizza, chicken fajita pizza and Mexican fiesta pizza. Ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, and each pie is made to order.
And because so many young people survive on pizza while in college, The Pizza Shack offers a ten percent discount to college students. (Pro tip: call in orders ahead of time, then be prepared to wait. It’s worth it).
The Manship Wood Fired Kitchen – 1200 North State Street – Belhaven
The Manship, located in the Belhaven Building across from the Baptist Hospital, is the brainchild of Chef Alex Eaton and sommelier Stephen O’Neill. The restaurant offers rustic European cuisine with deep Southern roots.
Eaton uses seasonal ingredients sourced locally, along with authentically produced Mediterranean ingredients from local European import companies.
Pizzas, made to order throughout the day, are a popular item on the restaurant’s menu. There are four on the menu, including Margherita, barbecue chicken, mushroom, bacon and egg pizza, and the “farmer’s market” pizza. Add-ons include pepperoni, sausage, chicken and egg. All pizzas are baked in the Manship’s wood-fired pizza oven, giving it a unique and mouthwatering taste. (Pro tip: pizza prices are sliced in half for happy hour, Monday-Friday, 3-6 pm and Thursday-Saturday, 9 pm-until with bar and patio seating).
Aplos – 4500 I-55 North – LeFleur East
Manship’s Chef Eaton also serves pizza at Aplos, his restaurant in Highland Village.
Aplos offers fresh, light Mediterranean fare, including various pizzas baked in their pizza oven imported from Italy.
Using the freshest ingredients available to provide maximum flavor is the secret to the growing popularity of the pizzas served at Aplos.
For any cheese lover, one to try is the Quatro Formaggi, a four-cheese pizza with mozzarella, ricotta, fontina and feta cheeses along with roasted garlic. Another one is the Lahn Baajin, based on a Lebanese meat pie made with ground beef, ground lamb, onion and tomatoes.
Their happy hour also offers half-priced pizzas, this time seven days a week, 3-6 pm.
Basil’s – 2906 North State Street – Fondren
For the past 17 years, Nathan Glenn has been serving up his fresh pizza creations from Basil’s, a “real deal fast-casual deli” in the Fondren Corner building on North State Street.
The 10-inch pizzas are created using a signature pizza crust made daily in Basil’s in-house bakery. In addition to the classic cheese and pepperoni pizzas, Basil’s offers their take on a barbecue chicken pizza, made with honey barbeque sauce, cilantro, caramelized onions and bacon.
Meat eaters will appreciate The Rocky, made with white sauce, brisket, roasted garlic, mushrooms, caramelized onion and bell pepper. Using that same brisket and kicking it up a notch, the John Wayne pizza is made with coffee barbeque sauce, caramelized onion and jalapenos.