Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Pizza Rev or Fiero Pizza? Your Guide To Hipster Pie in Sioux Falls

So, it turns out that Wednesday, May 6, 2015 is International No Diet Day. Forking A! How can you beat that for timing, because I am jonesing for some pizza. And these days here in River City, pizza is the newest trend in fast casual dining. What's fast casual? Been to Qdoba, ahem Chipotle, or Panera lately? That's fast casual.

In terms of pizza, Red Rossa has been doing this concept justice for years. And I love Red Rossa. It's a great Neapolitan style pie.  Today, however, we are going to concentrate on the newest players on the scene: Pizza Rev and Fiero Pizza. (Footnote: I hope to write about Breadico's pizza in the near future. If it is half as good as the bread, it's going to be awesome. Unfortunately, Breadico's pizza times don't easily coincide with the Fork's hectic social calendar.)

At any rate, Pizza Rev and Fiero Pizza are what I refer to as hipster pie. It's the newest thing. And, the target audience is a 20-30 something that likes to customize his or her food choices from among an array of fresh, hopefully organic, ingredients. I didn't make that up. I read it in the Argus, so it has to be accurate.

Both of these places specialize in pizzas that are more or less a single serving. You process through a line, not unlike you would at a Pita Pit, Subway, or Qdoba to customize your pie. In both places, you start with a crust choice, then a sauce (tomato-based, olive oil, or a creamy alfredo sort of thing), then cheeses, then proteins (grilled chicken, various sausages, bacon), then vegetables and such (need I explain), followed by any last minute sprinkles of fresh herbs or dried spices. You pizza is then cooked while you pay and make a drink selection. You then go sit down, or play with your smart phone, and wait for a friendly staff member to hunt you down and deliver your tasty creation. I want to be very clear that both Pizza Rev and Fiero execute this formula very well. Good service experiences at both places. Fresh ingredients. Quality product.

But, they are also both very different and which you prefer probably depends on your own personal preferences. Here's my take on both.

Fiero Pizza is located downtown in the heart of Phillips Avenue. Food & Fermentation was once located in the same spot- right across from Stogies. Great location if you are downtown strolling about. Fiero is also totally locally owned. It's not part of a chain, so the owners are probably there when you are. The Fiero pie is oblong. The crust is most definitely hand-crafted and is cooked on a little conveyor oven that allows it to puff up and create bubbles and pockets. At Fiero, your choice of cheese is applied to the crust in slice form after exactly one ladle of sauce is applied to the crust. Each one of those slices is so thin, you could read 605 Magazine through it. If you want more cheese, prepare to flip out some more coin. The end product, absent extra cheese, is very tasty. It's warm and soft. If the ingredients don't go well together, that's on you because it was your idea to put whatever on there. Fiero must be doing something right because they managed a rookie win in Cory Myers' Food Falls annual bracket challenge.

Pizza Rev is a chain located on West 49th Street and is somewhat disguised in a bank building. Go google the address if you can't find the place across the street from Hy Vee and next to Pier One Imports. It's a chain. It's owned by Todd Porter, the guy behind the local Applebees, Carino's and Chevy's. (Todd probably isn't the guy making your pizza, by the way.) The Rev crust is round and it's undoubtedly a franchise formula. Each crust is pressed using a big machine that flattens a ball of dough into a nice round crust. I rather suspect the machine also applies some heat and slightly parbakes it. The cheese is grated and I've never seen a person be told they have reached their pre-designated allotment of cheese. The pie is then baked in a pizza oven on a stone floor. The end result is a round, crispy-crust pizza.

Warning. At either place if you decide to be that guy that sees how many toppings you can cram onto your pie so you feel like you have personally tipped the economic scales in your favor, you are going to have a major mess on your hands. Literally. As much as it pains me to say it, moderation and balance are key.

Personally, for me, Rev offers the correct coefficient of crust, sauce, and cheese, albeit in a more suburbany, chain-type of place. For me, these components are the soul of a pizza, and Rev is hitting them spot on. If you want downtown and locally home grown, and are willing to pay more for cheese, then Fiero is your place. Either way, the food life is good here in Sioux Falls and I can pretty much guarantee, come May 6, I'm at one of these places to celebrate International No Diet Day.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Get You Some Gilberto's

I've said it before. We are extremely lucky here in Sioux Falls to have ever increasing and diverse opportunities to enjoy an ever-expanding world of food and cultures. Today, I find myself compelled to share my thoughts on just one such place, the relatively-recently opened Gilberto's, on South Minnesota Ave.

Housed in the former location of Long John Silver's, and now painted a very bright yellow, Gilberto's is a 24-hour, non-stop parade of some of the best Mexican street food as you are likely to lay your hands on in our fair city. If you like fresh, authentic, hand crafted flavor, this is your place. If your idea of authentic Mexican is a burrito full of tater tots or tacos made out of Dorritos, well, you know where to go.

Gilberto's isn't doing anything you cannot find in other established eateries in Sioux Falls, they are just doing it extremely well, if not better, than others. You can get similar, awesome food, at places like Nikki's and a host of other places that I think frankly appear a little intimidating to a lot of pasty white Sioux Falls natives. And, I suppose Gilberto's may seem a little intimidating, as well, so here is what to expect when you go:

  • The parking situation SUCKS. There is one relatively narrow driveway off Minnesota Avenue that leads to an "L" shaped parking lot that sort of wraps around the back of the building. Some of the spots are in some places that are easier to get into than out of. Overall, probably very close to the utter inconvenience of the Eberts & Gerbert's parking lot on South Louise. Of, and when exiting during daylight hours, you probably realistically cannot turn left to go south, so don't even think about it.
  • The ordering situation looks a little funky. Go in the back entrance of the building. Step around the corner and you are going to be confronted with a short line (a good thing). As you wait, you will peruse an extremely large menu posted on the wall. And I mean huge. There are breakfast items served all day that range from huevos rancheros to egg filled burritos. There are some platters of various items that even include Americanized fare such as chimichanga. There are some most definitely authentic items, like menudo by the quart on weekends. The real stars, though, and where you want to concentrate your focus is the listing of tacos, burritos, and tortas. You will have time to study the board as you move toward the extremely efficient and friendly people who will take you order. And don't fret, there is a smaller version of the menu on the counter right in front of the registers.
  • The "trick" to the menu items is that they are all built on a foundation of one of about seven types of meat. It's all fantastic. If you cannot fathom the concept of nose-to-tail eating, stick to carnitas (moist pulled pork), carne asada (grilled steak), adobada (marinated grilled pork), or chorizo (pork sausage). If you want awesome flavor and adventure try some lengua (tongue that is beefier and more tender than your granny's Sunday pot roast), tripa (tripe, a/k/a stomach lining- not for everyone), cabeza (beef from the head area- cheeks, temples), or chicharones (pork skin- pork rind taco).
  • Tacos are a great way to experiment. They are maybe $2 each, so you can try several different flavors. The tacos are served on a couple warm, fresh, corn tortillas and topped with a little guacamole and onion. Fresh and bottled salsas and hot sauces are available.
  • The burritos will blow you away. The burritos are in the $6-7 range. They will include one or more meats and may also include other ingredients like rice, beans, guacamole, onions, peppers, or nopales (cactus). (Special hint- find that one on the menu and try it. It's the bomb.) Be advised, these are not like the thigh-sized homage to Mission-style burritos chock full of rice and beans and studded by a few chunks of meat like you get at Qdoba or, ahem Chipotle. These are more like super-flavored meat logs. Oh, and I swear the tortillas are made in-house.
  • Tortas are sandwiches. Like the tortillas, I swear the bread is house-made. So, you've got the meat foundation of your choice along with avocado, onion, lettuce, and some beans on a pillowy soft, warm and toasted in all the right spots bollio roll.
  • Be careful with sides. Things like rice and beans are available and they look awesome. Orders of chips and salsa or chips and guacamole are available. The chips don't come out of a bag or a warming hopper in the corner. Nope, made to order. Super good. I recommend getting a side if you brought a friend to lunch, because if you order about $7 of food a piece (roughly three tacos, one burrito, or one torta each) you are not going to leave searching for a snack.
  • Try the pickled carrots on the fresh salsa bar.
  • No cerveza. As much as I would love a super ice-cold Tecate or Negro Modello to wash down these delicious treasures, it ain't happening. So, do the next best thing and get a nice, authentic, sugary drink like a Jarritos, a bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola made with cane sugar, or at least some Orange Crush out of the fountain.
Seriously, give Gilberto's a go. Take a friend. Try something new. You won't be sorry.