South Polk Pizzeria in Dallas' Oak Cliff slings perfect pies in pizza desert
Dallas has plenty of pretty pizza these days — but nearly all of it is found north of I-30.
So let's hear it for South Polk Pizzeria, a new shop that opened in late December in Oak Cliff, at 3939 S. Polk St #527, just off US-67 and north of Loop 12, slinging the same kind of artisanal pies that are being slung across Deep Ellum, Oak Lawn, and North Dallas.
South Polk is doing serious pizza with stellar toppings — the foodie-famous Jimmy's Italian sausage, for example — as well as the telltale sign of great-quality pizza: a crust made from dough that's been fermented — left to age — for many hours to give it a light, crisp texture and toasty flavor.
South Polk is from Terrill Burnett, a chef and Detroit native who moved to Dallas in 2015 and has worked at fine-dining restaurants such as Knife, Nobu, and Saltgrass Steakhouse. For this first solo venture, he's partnered with famed developer Monte Anderson.
Pizza is an exciting new avenue for him.
"When I partnered with Monte, I initially pitched barbecue," he says. "But Monte encouraged me to think about pizza. I started doing my research on the concept of fermentation and got an understanding of how to do it."
That included studying books like The Joy of Pizza: Everything You Need to Know, plus classes such as the Pizza Master Class with Vito Jacopelli.
He uses some of the techniques and ingredients of a classic Neapolitan-style pizza, with his own tweaks. He experimented with different flours until he found one with the right blend of seminola and a high percentage of gluten, and he's fermenting his dough for 72 hours.
"I worked on my dough for a year and a half, baking pizzas every day, and learned how to handle it," he says.
If he has a signature pizza, it's his BBQ chicken.
"The chicken gets pan-seared, and we use a BBQ sauce base with Sweet Baby Ray's, plus Colby-Jack cheese and red onion," he says.
He's also doing a chicken bacon ranch, plus Meat Lovers, Sweet Heat, Supreme, and one with cheese and chunks of pineapple.
"I'm still seeing what customers in the neighborhood want," he says. "Everybody likes pepperoni pizza, cheese pizza, so you start there, then slowly add new varieties and toppings."
Two pizzas to go from South Polk Pizzeria.South Polk Pizzeria
There's no dining room inside, so it's been to-go only, but the response has been so brisk that they're adding a canopy for outside dining, and Burnett has just applied for a license to serve beer and wine.
The pizzeria is drawing comments social media such as "After speaking with the owner and head chef at South Polk Pizzeria, I think it's safe to say that we no longer live is a pizza desert" — or "This is the best pizza I've had in a long time. Bonus: It's a Black owned business. I ate the whole thing."
"I've always had a passion for cooking and good food," Burnett says. "I love the opportunity to do something that involves skill and technique - I got the passion."