Richmond Magazine / Review: One Part Portmanteau

Do you hate pizza and tacos? No? Then think of someone who does. Do they also loathe cuddling, dislike the smell of hot chocolate, and, tellingly, spend a lot of time alone? Tazza Kitchen — with multiple locations in both Virginia and the Carolinas — banks on a dearth of pizza-and-taco haters who would shun the restaurant for its name, a portmanteau of “taco” and “pizza.”

“Ta-” stands for tacos and “-zza” for pizza — not, as one might guess, the Italian or Spanish words for cup, “tazza” and “taza,” respectively, though suiting the restaurant with an Italian name wouldn’t have been inappropriate. Southern Italy clearly influences the Short Pump location. Notice the tiled dome of the pizza oven connecting the broad, rainbow-shaped bar to an open kitchen. One sultry evening, with a glass in hand of chilled Greco — an Italian white wine — we gave the quasi-Neapolitan margherita pizza a go. We pecked away at the puffy crust and thin center, which was delicious, though over-cheesed with calcified mozzarella instead of buffalo mozzarella, the fresh variety that slides lava-like with its own protected designation of origin.

In addition to pizza, vegetables jumped into the wood-burning oven that night; broccoli crumbled with Asiago and roasted garlic; asparagus draped with prosciutto; and nutty cauliflower; all benefited from a quick char (though my broccoli became mushy at the bottom of the dish). I drank Aglianico, a grippy Italian grape that quenched the cruciferous sides, and also contended with a sausage and honey pizza’s sweet and spicy tenor. Toes curled.

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