I’m a pizza snob. I’ve inhaled piping-hot slices of Grimaldi’s pizza from its coal-fired brick oven beneath the Brooklyn Bridge, and I’ve worked my way through the better part of deep-dish pies from both Giordano's and Lou Malnati’s in Chicago. I’ve polished off wedges from Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza in Denver.
Tommy’s Brick Oven Pizza earns a top-five spot in my Northeast Florida list, which includes Brewer’s Pizza, Mellow Mushroom, Pele’s Wood Fire and Perard’s.
In 2006, Tommy d’Esterhazy opened the unassuming spot in a small strip mall on Southside Boulevard. The small, casual restaurant seats about 20, including a few barstools where you can gaze at your pizza being made in the central brick oven. You can catch a glimpse of d’Esterhazy (complete with an authentic New York attitude) hand-tossing the dough.
Tommy’s New York-style pizzas are available in 12, 14 or 16 inches. Quattro Stagione is my choice: The slightly crisp prosciutto’s saltiness complements the tender artichokes and creamy goat cheese along with roasted red peppers and tomato sauce. They’re meant to be together. Hand-tossed dough cooked in the brick oven results in a crust that’s not overly thick, keeping its shape and staying crisp at the edges.
Treat your taste buds with delicious toppings like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, pineapple, salami, rock shrimp, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes.
Salads are made-to-order. The caprese is traditional: Soft, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, shreds of basil and a tangy balsamic reduction top a spring lettuce mix. The summery strawberry spinach salad with chevre or goat cheese is tossed with Tommy’s secret strawberry vinaigrette dressing. Tommy’s Caesar, with romaine and crunchy croutons, is also good. You can’t go wrong with any of these leafy concoctions.
I’ve yet to try one of the cold subs or hot sandwiches, but the warm roasted rosemary chicken with goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes is right up my alley. Soups are made fresh daily. Create-your-own calzones and strombolis round out the menu.
Tommy’s does a rockin’ lunch business. I stopped in for a small salad and one-topping slice combo ($5.75) on a Thursday at 12:30 p.m., and people filed in and out of Tommy’s meeting friends or grabbing to-go orders.
Open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner, Tommy’s is a solid spot if you’re craving carbs. Conscious of those with celiac disease, Tommy’s also offers gluten-free pizza and dessert options.