Uptown Dallas gets a new slice with the opening of CutiePies Pizza and Bar, a pizzeria and bar at 2916 McKinney Ave., in the old Shell Shack space, next to Theory Nightclub.
CutiePies is from One Entertainment Group, which owns Theory and Playground in Dallas, plus Landmark, Texas Republic, The Yard, and 88 Keys Dueling Piano Bar in Fort Worth. Many concepts.
With CutiePies, co-owner Steven Buchner says the goal was to create a comfortable neighborhood hangout with really good pizza.
"Pizza is life, everybody loves pizza," he says. "We wanted to do something fun that's also a little different."
That includes a few twists on the same-old pizza, in an environment that's fun and casual yet classy.
The menu features pizza, pasta, sandwiches, salads, beer, wine, and cocktails.
Pizzas include a dozen specialty varieties such as pepperoni, sausage, meatball, four cheese, and prosciutto with arugula, ranging from $13 to $18. The options feel reminiscent of the lineup at Fireside Pies, which is totally a compliment.
"We visited pretty much every pizza place in town, and other cities as well," Buchner says. "Pizza is so delicious, but everyone has their own take."
After months of testing, they arrived at a crust they loved.
"One thing you learn with pizza is that it's all about the dough," he says. "Ours goes through a 24-hour fermentation process. It's a thinner crust, similar to New York-style but not quite as thin."
There's a mushroom white pie; a chicken and bacon; and a veggie topped with broccolini, spinach, red onion, and garlic. You don't often see broccolini on a pizza.
Starters include fried mozzarella bites, fried green tomatoes, wings, garlic knots, and charred cauliflower with tahini yogurt. Salads such as arugula with apple and goat cheese and Caprese have an appealing gourmet touch.
A quartet of sandwiches includes a beef dip sandwich and an Italian meat; pastas include spaghetti & meatballs, and penne with spicy sausage from Jimmy's.
One unique option is their "build-your-own pizza nachos," with "pizza chips" made from fried pizza dough; Buchner describes them as being like a light and fluffy tortilla chip. Just like a pizza, you choose whatever toppings you want.
CutiePies also accommodates the special ones with a gluten-free crust and an option for vegan cheese.
There's a pretty decent wine list for a pizza joint, with four sparklers, nine whites, and a dozen reds; more than half are available by the glass. There's beer and more than a dozen crafty cocktails.
Atmosphere is loungey, with a bar, TVs, and a swanky couch area that's good for drinks. One wall has a random collection of framed photos and art prints like the Mona Lisa, adding a lived-in flair. A custom neon sign with the words "You wanna pizza me?" hangs on a brick wall.
As befits its Uptown location, they keep late hours, until 2 am every night, except Sunday when they close at midnight — still late for a Sunday in Dallas.
"We're just aiming to be a come-as-you-are place where you can have a beer and a pizza," he says.
After they get up to speed, in the coming weeks or maybe months, they'll also add that pizza holy grail everyone says they want: slices.
"We'll do late-night pizza by the slice for bar traffic, where people are getting out of a bar and just want a slice," he says.