I spent a lot of time in Dallas when I was a Texan and have many fond memories of this fine city. My trips back since then have been infrequent, and my research unfortunately has resulted in little in the way of any pizza to get excited about. A few years back, I had a great big great slice at Serious Pizza and since then, my follow-up target has been Coal Vines.
A recent business trip sent me back to the once familiar confines of the chic downtown Crescent Hotel. There on a quiet Monday evening, I was fortunate to find myself with both a free night for dinner and Coal Vines within walking distance.
It was quiet when I got there on this mild spring evening, and the front of the somewhat small, but swanky-looking joint was wide open allowing a full open-air view. I’d label the place as an upscale bar that fits perfectly within this high-class neighborhood. With a bar area to the left and a dining room to the right, I chose the front patio dining area which offered fresh air and a pleasant view of the neighborhood.
Not having given much forethought to the name, I soon figured out that the “vines” was reference to their focus on wine. While the “coal” part could allude to the way they fired-up their pizza, that was something I would later fail to substantiate from its taste.
Treated with style, the complimentary zucchini chips were a tasty munch with which to start. Also delightful was the kale salad which came with two small mozzarella cheese sticks on the side.
As I prefer, my pizza was the plain cheese one from the top of the menu. My large 16-incher arrived elegantly on the tallest raised silver platform I have ever seen. It was accompanied by a condiment container of the usual pizza add-on threesome: pizza peppers, parmesan and oregano. The pie looked fantastically-inviting: thin with a swirl of tomato sauce not quite covering all of the light coating of cheese, and with some char spots on the end crust.
After a few quick eager bits, it did not take long for me to make my mind up about this one. This pie of such great potential wound up falling short for two simple reasons: its lack of taste and the absence of any crispness! While this was a well-prepared, designed and cooked pizza, it tasted dull and bland and the slices were flimsy flopers! And forget about me adding to it from the condiment trio tray – that’s just not my job. I expect a pizza place to come at me with their best.
As for what I did like, the crust was tasty and chewy and by no means undercooked. But surprisingly, it was devoid of any crispness whatsoever. There was little oil, coming off the cheese which was another oddity.
I made my way through all but three of the eight slices mildly enjoying what I had, but sadly knowing how much better it could have been. I even tried adding some oregano on slice #5, which seemed to only make things worse. It works much better when its cooked in the tomato sauce.
I decided to take the leftovers back to the nice lady who had upgraded my room back at the hotel. After graciously accepting my gift with the acknowledgement that it wouldn’t go to waste, I found she shared a love for pizza and agreed with my assessment of Coal Vines: “They forgot about the taste!”
Despite my negative comments, I really am not steering you away from this place. Cola Vines is a lovely restaurant with great food and fabulous service. The sad thing is that if they simply livened up the tomato sauce and crispened the crust, it could be a real winner.
PIZZA SNOB RATING ***1/2 Working on a Good Thing
2404 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75201