When the bars and clubs on University Avenue in Palo Alto close in the early hours of the morning, there are few choices for hungry patrons in need of a quick bite before bed. In my twenties, when I was known to visit said clubs on occasion, I sometimes found myself bleary-eyed and hungry, walking the upscale Palo Alto streets well past midnight. One restaurant I could always count on was Pizza My Heart. Although I haven't been to a club in years, I still find myself craving Pizza My Heart, and I try to stop in (albeit at the San Mateo location) for a slice whenever I can.
That's right, just a slice. While they do respectable business selling pizza by the pie, for me the thrill of going to Pizza My Heart has always been in having a quick slice. Or two or three. Pizza My Heart has a wide variety of choices to be enjoyed, from basic stuff like cheese, pepperoni and mushroom to less traditional combinations like Maui Wowie (ham and pineapple), Prima (tomatoes, olives and feta), and chicken and bacon, formerly known as D'Lex and so named in honor of a regular customer.
However, Pizza My Heart also offers a plethora of pizzas not available by the slice: Almost thirty distinctive pies according to their website, including five creations that have won awards in various pizza contests. Their pizzas feature toppings as diverse as green apple slices, portobella mushrooms, artichoke, linguica, and clams. Purists need not turn up their noses, as Pizza My Heart makes a combination pizza - among others - worthy of counter space in any New York pizzeria. However, the similarity to New York pizza ends there, as Pizza My Heart looks - and feels - very much like a California pizza restaurant. Beyond the sometimes hipper-than-hip toppings, the location I frequent is decorated with surfing memorabilia, from posters to custom surfboards.
Additionally, there's a soda fountain, and it's got Cherry Coke. That wins them major points with me, though I wouldn't be reviewing Pizza My Heart so favorably if they had Cherry Coke and lousy pizza. It's not the surf-shack atmosphere or the soda fountain or even the punch card with which diners can eat their way to free sodas, salad and even pizza that has me coming back; it is most definitely the pizza itself, although since Katie and I have been eating together at Pizza My Heart since our third date, the place carries a lot of sentimental value for us as well.
As mentioned above, Pizza My Heart also offers a selection of pre-packaged salads. On our most recent visit, we shared a chicken walnut salad.
Consisting of juicy chunks of chicken, crisp baby greens, crunchy candied walnuts, and aromatic gorgonzola cheese and served with a Balsamic vinaigrette dressing, this salad is a perfect lead-in to any slice of pizza. It also has the distinction of being one of my favorite salads to make at home, though I find that my own rendition needs a bit of work.
We followed the salad with their chicken and bacon pizza. In addition to copious amounts of the eponymous ingredients, this particular selection is topped with mushrooms, green onions, and lots of garlic, all piled atop a creamy white sauce.
I've been ordering the chicken and bacon pizza almost exclusively for more than a couple years. It's handily supplanted my previous favorite, Pizza My Heart's excellent combination pizza. It's interesting to note that, fifteen years ago, I doubt I would have ventured beyond my traditional mindset to try - let alone enjoy - a pizza topped with chicken. But I've grown much more adventurous in my relatively old age, and I consider this particular slice among the best I've ever tasted.
Pizza My Heart is my favorite pizzeria for by-the-slice eating, as the variety of slices they offer, as well as the taste and overall quality of their food, dwarf the local competition. Additionally, unlike some pizzerias that inexplicably offer slices at only a pre-determined time of day, I can walk into Pizza My Heart at any time during its operating hours, order a slice and a soda (Cherry Coke, naturally), and know I'm in for a superior meal. My only complaint about Pizza My Heart - and it's a minor, petty gripe, I'll admit - is that there doesn't happen to be a location any closer than San Mateo, which is two hours from Roseville. As we find ourselves in San Mateo regularly, it's easy for us to overlook this complaint.
Pizza My Heart has seventeen locations on the San Mateo County Peninsula and the South Bay. Operating hours vary. The location pictured above is located at 140 E. 4th Avenue, San Mateo, CA 94401. Their website is pizzamyheart.com.