Any pizza place that refers to its product as a "pie" is certainly worth a try. So I tried ESP yesterday. My wife tells me I shouldn't post this because they just started up and we'd like to see them succeed. But I'm posting this criticism because I want them to succeed. The crust is too thin. The sauce is seasoned wrong. The cheese is decent but there appears to be an oven problem and so the top of the slice (i.e. the cheese) is burnt while the bottom seems fine. Not sure where they're from but it's definitely not a NY slice like Home Slice for example. Improvement definitely needed and hopefully in time, they can develop a better slice. I will certainly give them another chance. On a positive note, a large pie is 18" not 16". Yay.
Hog Island Deli - 16th and Lavaca. I can't say enough good things about this place. Unlike most of the Italian food emporiums in Austin, Hog Island understands the "less is more" philosophy of Italian cuisine. There's no overspicing here. The meatball parm hero was heavenly...just the right blend of parmesan, oregano and yes I can taste the breadcrumbs in the meatball lending itself to a wonderful consistency and texture. It's a family recipe so no wonder I feel like I'm back in my Grandmother's kitchen. I've also had the Paisano, Old Italian, and Sweet Italian Sausage heros. All excellent and all constructed in a true-to-form East Coast style. I'm still doing the happy food dance from yesterday's sausage. Of course one key element to all their sandwiches is the bread. The best bread in Austin. Period. I've got a loaf in my freezer right now that I'll be scarfing down later today...mmm...with some nice garlic and oil. I'm going to systematically work my way down the menu and leave the cheesesteak for last. Too bad they're not open on Sundays anymore.