Do you want to eat pizza like an old school Austinite? Then get to the nearest Conans Pizza and try to eat a large Savage.
Two Dudes and a Dream
It’s hard to imagine Austin without its artisanal pizza restaurants, food trailers, or the run of the mill, by the slice variety that populate the downtown area. There was a time, however, when today’s popular pizza spots didn’t exist. Back then, 183 wasn’t a freeway, 2222 was a dirt road, and South Park Meadows was a giant field.
That time was 1976. In June of that fabled year, two dudes named Scott and Jerry met and decided what Austin needed was some deep dish Chicago style pizza. On July 19th, 1976, they opened Conans Pizza on 29th and Guadalupe. For the last 38 years, the duo has been making pizzas that rival the might of their restaurant’s namesake.
154 Cubic Inches of Tasty Pizza
Conans’ pizzas are massive. I’ve been to the north location (2438 W Anderson) on several different occasions. One time in particular, my buddy Samy Bekka had the foolish idea to eat a large deep dish Savage on his own. The Savage is an aptly named pizza that has just about every topping on it.
After the first four slices of that 154 cubic inch pizza, Samy paused, looked at me, and shook his head. Beads of sweat rolled down his forehead. He sipped his coke. By slice six, he gave up.
I kept Samy in mind on my most recent trip to Conans North. As I stepped into the narrow restaurant with my fiancé and friends, everything was just like I left it. Heavy wood paneling bedecked the establishment from top to bottom and seemed to mute the kitchen sounds and conversations.
Throughout the restaurant, small booths hid in nooks, while Conan fantasy art hung on the walls. The layout can create an intimate feel for a couple wanting a quiet date.
We ordered the massive pizza that wrecked my buddy’s confidence in his manhood, sans anchovies, as well as a smaller thin crust pepperoni pizza for my stepson and a Cosmic Salad. The salad is something to behold. If you’re a cheese fan, you won’t be disappointed by the mound of mozzarella heaped upon lettuce in the vintage style salad bowl.
Hold the Anchovies
The cashier said the pizzas would take about 30 minutes to be ready, but the wait time ended up being 45-50 minutes. We ordered shortly after 7 PM on a Monday evening.
Once our pizzas arrived, we were ready for them. The Savage sat there, on whole wheat crust with smoldering cheese, daring us to eat it with our bare hands. We did not. As it happened, my stepson demolished his pepperoni pizza, and my fiancé and I managed to eat two slices of Savage a piece.
“Hold the anchovies” is a phrase that is hardly uttered in pizza restaurants anymore. But at Conans it’s still necessary, since anchovies are one of the many toppings on the Savage.
However, the cashier gave me a sample of anchovies, since I hadn’t ever tried them. I was curious, but didn’t want to risk spoiling the pizza for my fiancé. I slid the wiggly dark brown piece of fish between the top layer of cheese and sauce on my slice. I can now say I’ve tried anchovies – an old school topping for old school pizza.
Of course, you don’t have to choose the large deep dish Savage when you go (but what kind of Austinite would you be if you didn’t try it at least once?). Both of Conans two locations offer a full menu with various pizza sizes. As I mentioned before, there is a thin crust option.
Conans also has a lunch menu available Monday-Friday, from 11 AM-2 PM, which is when their buffet is available. Advance orders and delivery are also available. If you are in a rush or don’t care to wait, I would recommend you call in your order before you get to the restaurant.
If you have a taste for pizza, give Conans a try. From the decor to the menu, it’s the epitome of old Austin. The pizza, especially the Savage, lives up to its name. I’d personally recommend you go big or go home, so be sure to take friends with you. You’ll need their help.
In your opinion, which restaurant captures the spirit of old Austin?
Cover photo by jmtimages via Flickr CC.