Los Olivos Cooks Up Incredible Artisan Pizza & Value on West Congress
August 14, 2014
by James J. Jefferies
Downtown Tucson has seen an explosion in eateries the last few years, many of which are extremely high-profile development affairs that warranted media attention long before they actually came into existence. It’s certainly a positive omen of our rejuvenated state of economic affairs when trumpeted restauranteurs throw down millions of dollars and choose our community to be the next move for their thriving empires, and we should relish that for sure.
I would also argue that every bit as important is the emergence of scrappy underdogs in this culinary destruction derby. When we see that even small businessmen and aspiring chefs are chasing their own dreams, it’s every bit as promising an event for the long-term health of our city, and then some.
While Downtown and the older neighborhoods have long been home to a host of different kinds of restaurants and taquerias offering super cheap street food, mom and pop pizzerias in that price range are not terribly common, especially one that actually strives for offering some really excellent pizza variants with a serious streak of foodie flair. This is precisely what the folks at Los Olivos Artisan Pizza are doing over on the westside of Congress St. just by the Mercado San Augustin.
The storefront itself is as simple as they get, with Los Olivos occupying a converted house, as upon walking in, you are greeted by a super-basic menu painted with markers on blackboard. Stainless steel and glass cases for the grub, and incredibly minimal seating (about four metal stools and a counter along with a small table, not counting the tables outside). If you’re looking for some kind of overwhelming aesthetic show of force, and a setting that is crafted to evoke a particular mood, this probably won’t do much to impress you.
However, if you’re any kind of serious urban eats fortune hunter who knows that such threadbare trappings are usually the BEST possible sign of great things to come – you know what the deal is here. This is your classic upstart that’s probably slinging some genuinely awesome pie. The emphasis here is *solely* on the food.
My first trip to Los Olivos, I went with the 14” Grilled Chicken Ricotta pizza. First of all, this was under $11.00, and usually for grilled chicken at most pizzerias, you gotta drop a little bit of extra change. Not so here. The box was hotter than Central Phoenix in July at 3am, and I had to crank the AC in my car while the amazing aroma wafted into my ride. Upon getting it home, it did not disappoint in the slightest.
The sauce had a delicious twist to it, almost a creamy Bolognese thing happening (sans the beefy streak) which complimented the sizable dollops of ricotta cheese, basil leaves, and a very generous spread of diced grilled chicken that dotted the pie. It was cut Chicago-style, like a grid, and the crispy crust perfectly held up the ample sea of toppings.
There’s an entire spate of specialty pies in this vein, such as a classic Margherita with basil, tomato, and mozzarella, the Los Olivos (green olive, artichokes, fresh tomato, and basil), and the Charcuterie (ham, capicolla, pepperoni, and salami). They also have a small selection of sandwiches, calzones, wings, salads, and soups. The lunch special also is certainly a killer deal, given that you get a slice of the day’s pie, and a salad for a single solitary Lincoln ($5).
In this respect, this eatery pulls off a rare trick amongst pizzerias: usually a destination for a cheap slice isn’t so much of a great option when you wanna buy a full-size pie, let alone something of really great quality and offbeat/ambitious ingredients. Los Olivos manages to pull off both, while still offering really ridiculously cheap prices. Again, it’s not a place you’re likely to want to take a date, but if you wanna have a delicious pie ready for the special lady or gentleman in your life when they get home, this is a terrific choice.
Los Olivos Pizzeria is at 931 W. Congress Street, and is open everyday from 10am-9pm, except on Sunday when they are closed. You can phone in an order at (520) 624-0155.