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Friday, February 11, 2011

Three visits to Mesa Pizza + Two years apart = Five terrific slices!

Spinach Tomato Feta and the Southwest Taco.
Avocado, tomato, and fresh mozzarella.
Spinach Tomato Feta and the Southwest Steak & Guacamole.

Back in February of 2009, I spent a couple of weekends in Iowa City. The first time around was for a friend's birthday party which I ended up blowing off. Well, in reality I showed up but claustrophobia had me running for more roomier surroundings.

Earlier that day, curiosity compelled me to try Mesa Pizza, a recently opened off-shoot from a joint of the same name in Minneapolis. Likely my proclivity towards all things Southwestern piqued my interest, but the bold flavors presented in their offerings made my choice a good call.

I enjoyed a slice of Spinach Tomato Feta followed by the Southwest Taco: spicy ground beef, peppers, onions, cilantro, lime juice, cheddar cheese, then drizzled with a spicy Southwest sauce. I gave them gushing praise for their food and some advice for a new business on getting the word out.

On my second visit to Iowa City later that month, I scarfed another kick-ass slice. Creamy avocado, the brashness of tomato, and gooey fresh mozzarella atop a crispy crust study enough to hold up all those weighty offerings. Tomato and avocado, like tomato and basil, is among the world's greatest food pairings. Mesa Pizza serves it well.

Recently a cheap pair of Megabus tickets afforded me a day-trip to Iowa City to sow some culinary oats, and afforded me a return visit to Mesa Pizza to see if their slices still lived up to my two-year-old memories.

Once again I grabbed a slice of Spinach Tomato Feta. Adorned with big crumbles of feta, chopped tomato and sautéed spinach leaves on a bed of marinara. Still as good as I remembered.

Intoxicated by the sight of the Southwest Steak & Guacamole I had to give it a try. Tender, finely-chopped steak, creamy guacamole, cheddar cheese, and that addictive Southwest sauce. Beefy, creamy, cheesy, melty, saucy, crispy. What more can say? It was heaven!

Des Moines has found good favor with the eclectic pizzas offered by Fong's, Big Tomato and Centro. With the addition of Gusto Pizza, not far from Big Tomato on Ingersoll, more bold flavors are offered locally.

Mesa Pizza in Iowa City may not be a hotbed of social activity like our pizza joints, but it seriously deserves to be counted as one of the best pizzas in Iowa, and is worth the visit. Even if I did freeze my balls off later that night, in zero-degree weather, waiting for a late Megabus from Chicago.

The many slices offered by Mesa Pizza.


Mesa Pizza on Urbanspoon Photos from the Picasa Web Album: Iowa City & Coralville, February 2009 and Iowa City, Winter 2011

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