Cheap Eats: O4W Pizza
Atlanta gets a dose of Jersey pie at the excellent Old Fourth Ward additionTuesday June 23, 2015 04:00 am EDT
Atlanta has an abundance of Neapolitan and New York-style pizza to speak of, but not much in the way of New Jersey. Jersey? Yes, Jersey. Atlanta didn't know what it was missing until Anthony Spina came to town. Spina made pizza in the Garden State for more than two decades before a friend encouraged him to come check out ATL. Spina opened O4W Pizza at Irwin Street Market back in January, and has been quietly evangelizing the wonder that is Jersey-style pie ever since.
COUNTER CULTURE: O4W Pizza has two counters, a walk-up counter that faces Irwin Street and one inside the funky Irwin Street Market. Inside you can preview the wares, tantalizing pizzas laid out for ordering by the slice. A man who goes by K.P. will likely take your order. He's the friend who helped Spina realize Atlanta could stand to gain another pizza place. Once you've ordered, explore the market, which is populated by the quirky Jake's Ice Cream and just-opened Doctah Mojo's Juice Clinic, before grabbing one of the mismatched tables inside or out back.
CIRCLES AND SQUARES: The pizza at O4W falls into two camps: a basic, thin-crust pie dubbed the Jersey round or a rectangular, pan-style pizza. The house specialty Grandma Pie ($3.75/slice, $23.50/whole) — ahem, one of Creative Loafing's 100 Dishes to Eat in Atlanta — falls in the rectangle category. The Grandma is a heavenly, simple combination of crisp thin crust topped with fresh basil, pecorino cheese, and broad, alternating stripes of fresh house-made mozzarella and marinara. You'll also find pan-style specials, like a recent pesto square dotted with goat cheese, bits of bacon, caramelized onions, and roasted cherry tomatoes. As for the rounds, you can ask for a slice of whatever's on the counter that day. Go with the basic Jersey round ($2.25/slice, $14.50/whole) or options such sausage and freshly sliced pepperoni or a white pie with mushroom, artichoke, and ricotta. They're all thin crust, crunchy but not shattering or cracker-like. This tightrope walk between crisp and perfectly pliable makes each slice easy to pick up and wolf down. Choose between an array of toppings if ordering a whole pizza — things like sausage, roasted red peppers, jalapeños, pineapple, meatballs, Kalamata olives, sautéed spinach, goat cheese, and homemade mozzarella in addition to the basics. There's also whole-wheat dough if that's your thing.
BEYOND THE PIE: O4W has a nice house salad with Kalamata olives and chickpeas over romaine ($4.50) or a caprese over flatbread ($10.25). Addictive, chewy garlic knots ($4.25) come with a side of the chunky house marinara. More substantial pizza alternatives include calzone ($8.75), stromboli ($9.25), meatball Parm ($8.50) on a garlic roll (we're talkin' Jersey, here!), or a spinach and garlic hero ($8.50). The bread is baked in house. The homemade sausage and meatballs come from an old southern Italian family recipe. O4W even caters to the vegan crowd (Spina himself is a believer), using cashew cheese from local producer Pure Abundance on special pizzas and a daily vegan hero sandwich ($10.50). I don't know how many vegans live in Jersey, but if O4W's animal-free options are any indication, they're on to something good.