First Ward's new pizzeria
Armando Dimeo and Jordan Kone really like pizza. That passion has fueled the opening of a new pizzeria in First Ward.
Meet Coastline Artisan Pizzeria. Located in the former Cafeza space at the corner of Houston Avenue and Crockett Street, the new restaurant fulfills a goal the childhood friends have been planning for years.
“One of the questions that came up between the two of us was, where do you get pizza in Houston? We could never really answer the question,” Dimeo tells CultureMap. “The style of pizza we liked to eat, which is thin and crispy and Neapolitan. We could never answer the question, so we brought this place together.”
Dimeo, whose family owns Antonio’s Italian Grill in Deer Park and Gennaro's Trattoria in Canyon Lake, developed a grilled pizza to satisfy his craving for a thin and crispy pizza. Each of the oblong-shaped pies start on the restaurant’s grill before being finished in an oven. The sturdy crust allows for more toppings, as in The O.G. that’s topped with mozzarella, Italian sausage, ricotta, habanero honey, basil, and tomato sauce.
To learn to make a proper Neapolitan, Dimeo trained with master pizzaiolo Tony Gemignani in San Francisco. Coastline ferments its dough for between 36 and 48 hours to let it develop additional flavor. With a thinner, looser crust, the pies get minimal toppings, including a traditional margherita with buffalo mozzarella or another with soppressata and hot relish.
Since the Neapolitan pies are baked in a wood-burning oven, they’re only available at dinner. That the oven is purely wood-burning is a point of pride for both owners.
“One of my biggest pet peeves is pizzerias saying they’re wood-fired then there’s this gas jet shooting up,” Dimeo says. “This oven takes about three hours to get up to temperature. It’s about as traditional as you can get.”
The dinner menu also includes small plates such as meatballs, salmon cakes, bruschetta, and marinated olives. At lunch, focaccia sandwiches provide an alternative to the grilled pizzas.
In addition to serving both of its signature pizza styles, the restaurant plans to add a rotating monthly special to its menu. “We’re going to do a different style of pizza every month,” Kone says. “We’ll do Detroit, Sicilian — we can put different toppings on it.”
Bartender Jason Garcia brings experience from Two Headed Dog to Coastline’s cocktail menu. His offerings include eight house originals, including three that pack a dose of spicy heat.
To transform Cafeza into Coastline, Dimeo and Kone shortened the bar — to make room for the wood-burning oven — and added wood beams to brighten the room. With its brick walls and long, narrow layout, the space recalls the feel of typical New York City restaurants. After a few days of soft opening and a week of lunch and dinner service, the early feedback has been positive.
In the coming weeks, Coastline plans to deepen that relationship with neighborhood specials and a bicycle-powered delivery option. For now, they’re meeting their new neighborhoods and focusing on the food.
“They’ve treated us well,” Dimeo says about the area. “We’re just happy to be here.”