Pizzeria Vesuvius in the Old Fourth Ward is one of those restaurants that is appealing for its oddness. It occupies the vast yet choppy top floor of the space that was home to the Bureau — a star-crossed gastropub that opened and closed relatively quickly.
The sign out front, which depicts an erupting volcano and lava-like letters spelling out “Vesuvius” seriously looks like it announces a circa-1979 head shop rather than a pizzeria.
The parking on its stretch of Edgewood Ave. a block east of the highway overpass is sketchy at best.
Yet it is cheap, fun, stays open throughout the day, offers free WiFi and features some interesting things to eat. As one friend says, it’s a great restaurant to hide out in.
I like the specialty pizzas, which have a crisp crust and all kinds of fun flavor combinations. The medium pizzas ($10-$12) offer eight generous slices each.
The Vesuvius ($11, pictured above) is a hilarious take on Buffalo chicken wings, with smoked chicken, blue cheese, jalapeño, celery and plenty of hot sauce under a slick of mozzerella. I found it a little too intense and salty at lunch, but think it might shine if a pitcher of beer or three appeared at the table. Still, I find it a little weird to experience all those flavors chopped into bits and amalgamated. I think the pleasure of Buffalo wings is in the contrast of cool dressing and celery with spicy, crispy chicken skin.
The Mazama ($11, above) was more to my liking. It had a nice balance of mushrooms, feta, onion, spinach, whole roasted garlic cloves (yow!) and chili flakes. This pizza was good at the restaurant and almost better the next day after a reheat in the oven. It’s sturdy pie.
The only thing I flat-out didn’t care for at all was this salad ($6) made with arugula, waxy cheese (or was it cheesy wax?) and pecan bits right out of the bag.
This is no Varasano’s, but it’s a fun joint.
I hope more people discover it.