The destination for the fifth post in the Atlanta Pizza Days series is yet another new destination to the ol’ pizza posse – Shorty’s Pizza. When I did the pizza poll before beginning this pizza consumption debacle, Shorty’s received a fair number of “favorite ATL pizza destination” votes, so again, I was going into this experience with some optimism.
We hit up the Decatur (Toco Hills) location, where the Shorty’s is tucked away at the far end of a strip mall near the Longhorn Steakhouse (side note: what happened to the Big Haired Lady?) It’s definitely an unassuming spot, but when we arrived, it was packed and we had to wait a few minutes. Definitely a good sign when seeking tasty fare.
The atmosphere is a little more upscale, and the menu has some more advanced offerings than just your regular pie. Our waiter was quite enthusiastic, and maybe a little bit of a smartass. When we ordered one large and one small pie I asked if that was enough for the four of us and he scoffed and said that it was enough for just him. His other notable claim was, “We have the best pizza in town, but the pizza isn’t even the best thing on the menu.” Then there was that few second pause where I realize he wants me to ask. OK, I bite and ask him what is the best thing on their menu, and I’m told the best thing on the menu is the fish. Apparently they cook salmon on a wood plank in their wood fired pizza oven and it’s phenomenal.
Wood fired oven! I haven’t seen one of these yet in the pizza series. I asked how hot they cook and the waiter said 1200 degrees. Now I’m not so sure about this “best fish in town claim” as there’s no way this oven statement is true. Maybe he was saying the fire itself is 1200 degrees but cooking a pizza at that temp sounds a little extreme and in my brief internet research I haven’t found an oven that cooks at that temperature.
OK enough blabbing from me. The real measure of Shorty’s would be in the pizza. I don’t have full tasting notes from all the eaters because we didn’t sit there with our spreadsheets. The active waiter service kind of made me uncomfortable with pulling out sheets and pens for all four of us. For our initial order we started with a small pie with buffalo mozzarella, basil, and onion. We also got a large specialty pie (pictured above) that was a white pie with sausage and cilantro (among other things).
Dough (average score – 4.25/5)
- “light color, thin, nice crunch but light dough inside endcrust, not soggy, average upskirt“
- Dough rating of ‘5’ from two tasters (no notes)
- Blind Taste – “very good crunch but I prefer a little more bread”
Sauce (average score – 3.63/5)
- “Noticeable, right amount of sauce, not soggy, good balance”
- Sauce rating of ‘4’ and ‘4.5’ from two tasters (no notes)
- Blind Taste – “not enough”
Cheese (average score – 4.13/5)
- “ the mozzarella was fresh tasting, great flavor, good quantity”
- Cheese rating of ‘4’ and ‘4.5’ from two tasters (no notes)
- Blind Taste – “good strong flavor”
Overall (average score – 4.13/5)
- “I am a fan of this style, good balance of ingredients, fresh tasting”
- Overall rating of ‘4.5’ and ‘4.5’ from two tasters (no notes)
- Blind Taste – “good but just short of great”
Pictured above, the third pizza we ordered with arugula
Final Thoughts: I’m definitely a fan of Shorty’s pizza. This style isn’t for everyone, but it is one I like, in part because the dough really reminded me of the dough I make at home. See the comparison below (mine is on the left). They both have a light color, crispy on the endcrust, slightly chewy and firm, a little browning, but with some nice texture on the inside.
I was actually expecting their pizza to be more like a Naples style pizza, being they used a wood fired oven, but there was surprisingly little char and the upskirt was very plain (no holes, no blackening). Everything was in balance though. The dough wasn’t soggy. There was a noticeable amount of sauce. You could taste the mozzarella. And the pizza with toppings tasted fresh and didn’t weigh down the pizza. It’s was memorable to me, not crazily so, but memorable none the less, which means Shorty’s is definitely a winner to me. Throw in a fun environment and “the best fish in town” and you got yourself a pizza destination my friends.
During the previous blind tasting at my house, I decided to throw a curveball at the tasters. I mixed in two pizzas I made, one using Trader Joe’s dough and another using mine. My dough got royally screwed up but I decided to try it anyways. I lost about 1/3 of the flour due to a mixing accident so there was way too much yeast (it was bubblin’ pretty good in the fridge after 24 hours) and I totally forgot the salt like an idiot. Gimme a break though, this pizza thing is keeping me pretty busy.
They both had Trader Joe plain pizza sauce, and the TJ four pizza cheese mix on top. Again, cut me some slack. Though on the TJ dough pizza I did add a twist, I drizzled some white truffle olive oil on top, which definitely added some funk to it. Katie was really put off by it (actually she said, “I don’t like this!”) but she thought the flavor was bad cheese and once I told her what was on it she was put at ease and enjoyed it more.
Trader Joe dough comments: Crust had good crunch on outside but too chewy inside (3/5). Sauce overpowered by cheese (2.5/5). Cheese had too much parmesan — too strong (3/5). Overall (3.5/5) Funny how one blind taster interpreted the white truffle as parmesan.
My dough comments: Crust had good thickness + crunch but a little plain tasting (3.5/5). Sauce was good but tastes like ragu (3.0/5). Cheese had good flavor and doesn’t overpower the pizza (3.5/5). Overall – crust needs some flavor but sauce + cheese was a good combo (3.5/5). See how noticeable salt is? Funny that blind taster pegged the cheap, plain sauce.