First Bite: Music City Pizza

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Of all the new pizza joints to open in Midtown recently, Music City Pizza is another one. OK, that might sound a little underwhelming, but it is getting tough to differentiate all the new pizzerias unless you can figure out what their individual shticks are. Like Two Boots has Southern-style toppings on their pies. Oops, so does Soulshine across the street. But at least Mellow Mushroom distinguishes itself with lots of vegetarian options and calzones ... like Pizza Perfect. My personal favorite Desano's sets itself apart by the use of a hot wood-fired oven. Hmm ... so does Bella Napoli.

Dang, exactly how does a new Midtown pizza parlor make itself stand out? At Music City Pizza, they hang their hat on a few unique attributes. First there's the whole music deal. We're talking about a pizzerria next door to 12th & Porter, the venerable music joint north of Broadway in the Gulch. The decor in the casual dining room revolves around musical themes, with vinyl LPs (remember them?) and album jackets taking prominent places in the kitsch. There is a small stage with a personal sound system appropriate for singer-songwriter acts.

The Music City Pizza team has also partnered with their neighbors at 12th & Porter to share food, music and marketing efforts with the performance venue.

Music City Pizza offers a unique opportunity for pizza and music fans to "support the musicians, artists, bands, local businesses, charities, entrepreneurs and community leaders they believe in." Specific pies are named after the aforementioned groups or individuals, and stay on the menu for a minimum of three months as "record deals." For each 12- or 16-inch pizza ordered from this portion of the menu, Music City Pizza donates a dollar to the pie's namesake.

The open kitchen offers a view of the lively process of creating the pizzas, pastas and salads that highlight the menu, so that's entertaining even if you're not into the whole music deal. Most of the dishes are named after some groaner of a musical pun, so I always appreciate that sort of bludgeoning humor. I mean c'mon ... salads named "Whiter Shade of Kale" and "Ate Days a Greek!"? You gotta like that.

The pie I sampled was well-baked, although the crust didn't seem to benefit as much from the infernal fire in their Italian Marra Forni pizza oven as my old reliable at Desano's does. Gluten-free crust is available upon request for 12-inch pies only. The house-made sausage and the Porteroni from Porter Road Butcher were both quite good and made up for the dull crust on The Roadie pizza. I'd order it again.

The other hook upon which Music City Pizza hangs its chapeau is late-evening dining. I'll probably never experience it again, but I remember decades of leaving shows at 12th & Porter well after midnight. (Well, maybe not so well ...) Now, while Music City Pizza doesn't stay open until the wee hours, at least you can get some food in your stomach until 10 — before you go to 12th & Porter or Anthem across the street to wait an hour to see a band that was supposed to start at 9, thanks to the club-show phenomenon we used to call "Exit/In Standard Time."

The full bar at Music City Pizza would also be a great spot to meet up before you put in the earplugs and head in for a rock show. I know, I know. "If it's too loud ... you're too old." And I am.

If you've had a chance to dine through more of the menu at Music City Pizza, give us your impressions in the comments.

Music City Pizza
114 12th Ave. N.
(615) 320-3754
musiccitypizza.com

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