Review: Pizza Head

This is the second pizzeria by owner Scott Sandler, who also owns Pizzeoli in Soulard. There, he makes enviable Neapolitan pies with a special wood-burning oven from Italy. This second venture, in the middle of the South Grand dining district, makes New York-style pizza with a chewy, doughy crust instead of the thin-in-the-middle and bubbled-at-the-edges Neapolitan style.

Like at Pizzeoli, this place is vegan and vegetarian. There are pepperoni and sausage pizzas, but they are made with hydrolyzed protein products that simulate meat. It’s also a great spot for people who have trouble finding cheese-less pizza, because there is a pretty good option that has crushed cashews instead. Vegetable toppings run the full gamut: green pepper, black olives, jalapeños, spinach, garlic, onion and artichokes.

Also really nice: you can get pizza by the slice ($3 or $4)—a huge boon if you just want a couple of slices or two different kinds of pizza. There’s a simple bar with about five stools and lots of local beer options—great for a casual bite to eat. The dining area has about 10 tables. Two doors down, at the corner of Wyoming and Grand, there’s a Pizza Head patio with about six picnic tables (but no sun shade). I advise ordering your pizza by phone, and it should be ready 25 to 35 minutes later. There can be a long wait otherwise—40 minutes on the first night we visited.

All pizzas are 20 inches, with three basic options—cheese ($18), vegan ($22), white ($20, no tomato sauce)—and you can personalize with toppings. The sausage and pepperoni are soy-based products that look identical to their meat namesakes. This hard-core meat lover also found them to be very similar in taste—so much so that you might not suspect a meatless meal except for the sausage, which had a funny, unnatural odor.

In terms of the kind of experience you’ll have here, it’s casual, with an almost carry-out quality. Salads ($4) come in styrofoam boxes with single-serving salad dressings. Coke and Dr. Pepper come in cans direct from a self-serve cooler. There’s a CD jukebox in back, for those lucky enough to snag a table inside. The interior is in-your-face charcoal with ‘scratches’ of red—definitely on the garish side but in keeping with the funky ambience.

After waiting 40 minutes for one vegan onion-mushroom and one cheese-spinach-artichoke pizza, it became clear that this is also a bar, a place to come for a couple of beers and slices, maybe even in that order of importance. And it was crowded, with a constant stream of customers, some obviously from the area and many not.

So how is the pizza? Not as cheesy and gooey as the best New York pizza, but the crust was enjoyable. On one night, the toppings were a bit meager, but on a second visit, that was remedied and the cheese was nice and thick. Same for the cashew-onion-mushroom pizza, which had great flavor. With real New York pizza, you should have trouble eating it. With each bite, the cheese should cling to the pie and require the use of fingers to disengage it. Lots of napkins must be involved. Mission accomplished.

amuse bouche
the scene | Funky, urban pizza parlor
the chef/owner | Scott Sandler
the prices | $18-$22 pizzas
the favorites | Cheese pizza, Pepperoni pizza

Pictured: Sausage, pepper and onion pizza
Photos: Bill Barrett

3196 s. grand blvd. | 314.266.5400