Pizza Party 

Opening soon: Hog and Hominy and Aldo’s Pizza Pies.

Hands-on at Hog and Hominy.

Justin Fox Burks

Hands-on at Hog and Hominy.

Two of the most highly anticipated restaurants of the summer have one thing in common: pizza. If you're thinking it's time for a citywide pizza party, we're in lockstep.

Hog and Hominy, located directly across the street from Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen, is a casual, affordable way to sample what two of Memphis' most talented chefs, Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman, are whipping up.

Think of this little white house as an informal playground for Ticer and Hudman. They'll have Ghost River beer on tap served with crispy Buffalo fried pig ears, pork rinds, and popcorn. They've borrowed from their time in Italy and added sfoglia, a thin sheet of pasta rolled up with ingredients of your choosing. And if you really want to see them improvise, you can sit at one of the four reserved seats by the open kitchen and let Ticer or Hudman serve you tasting plates in a four- or seven-course meal.

But, of course, there are the pizzas, done Naples-style with a brick oven Ticer and Hudman built. The chef de cuisine, Trevor Anderson, mans the brick oven, built from the house's original brick chimney. Perfectly crusted pizzas come out fast — they only take three minutes to cook — dressed with a variety of sauces and toppings.

Fresh tomatoes, tomato sauce, or white sauce make up the base of each pizza. Toppings range from seasonal vegetables to house-made pepperoni. In fact, just about everything that can be made on the premises is done just so: Hand-pulled mozzarella tops the pizzas; the pizza dough is made daily with fresh yeast from Gibson's doughnuts; and the lardo topping is made in-house.

The eatery's décor befits the laid-back concept, with a cool industrial design and reclaimed wood accents, four unobtrusive flat-screen televisions, and a bocce court edging the side of the building. The prices are similarly casual. A pizza will run you somewhere between $10 and $15; shared plates range from $8 to $12; and some of the snack options ring in as low as $2 a piece.

Hog and Hominy will be open in mid-July and stay open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to whenever. Ticer says they're keeping the closing hours flexible because they want to cater to people in the food industry.

Hog and Hominy may be a casual date spot or a place for little league pizza parties, but Ticer and Hudman hope it will always be a place for restaurant workers to grab a bite of good, non-drive-thru food after a long night of work.

Hog and Hominy, 707 W. Brookhaven Circle (347-3569)

hogandhominy.com

Aldo's Pizza Pies, located on the bottom floor of the Barboro Flats Apartments downtown, will bring a much-needed dose of pizzeria-style eating to the Main Street Mall. This casual-dining spot is the latest endeavor by Aldo Dean, who owns two other popular spots, Bardog Tavern and Slider Inn.

"I'm crazy. I should probably have my head examined," says Dean, who has now opened three restaurants back-to-back. "But we really feel like we're filling a niche downtown."

While Bardog and Slider Inn could technically be classified as bars with restaurants, Dean says he plans on making Aldo's more of a restaurant with a bar. Downtowners will have a place to get solid Naples-style pizza and choose between dining in the spacious, comfort-meets-cool pizza parlor or grabbing a slice to go for a Main Street stroll.

Pizzas come in 12-inch and 18-inch and will have all the traditional toppings as well as some unusual ones, including tofu, jerk chicken, and shrimp. A pizza with honey, pear, and cheese will be on the dessert menu, along with their cheesecakes. And Dean is working on a number of small plates and sandwiches, from an eggplant sandwich to an authentic Philly cheese steak. There will be a full bar with a cocktail menu based on Italian liqueurs, 29 beers on tap, and Abita root beer on tap for root beer floats.

As for why he decided to call it Aldo's Pizza Pies, Dean says the "pie" part is a nod to his hometown of Trenton, New Jersey, famous for its tomato pie. The crust will be thin, a lot like the pizza you get in New York but based on the traditional Naples pizza. It's a style he picked up after attending a weeklong intensive pizza course at the American Institute of Baking.

Aldo's will open in mid-July for lunch, dinner, take-out, and eventually delivery, every day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and until midnight on the weekends.

Aldo's Pizza Pies, 100 S. Main

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