Words by Ben Haguewood Photos by Ashley Haguewood
Did you know that East Side Pies is making some of the biggest pizza in town? You can get a 20″ pizza slice for as little as $2.50 during happy hour.
When co-founders Michael Freid and Noah Polk stepped into the low, cinder-block building at 1401 Rosewood, it smelled of fryer grease that coated the walls, courtesy of the prior occupant. Now that same 250 sq. ft. space daily pumps out hundreds of pies topped with some of the most eclectic sauces and toppings of any pizzeria in Austin.
The thin but pliable crust is the perfect platform for the range of sauces, from classic red, pesto, tomatillo, and more. The Spinach Curry Sauce, a throwback to Polk’s time bartending at an Indian restaurant, satisfies the hungry and the curious. The YYZ adds Jerk chick, jalapeños, and red onions for a truly original synthesis of flavors that are ultimately pure Austin.
East Side Pies now has locations on Airport and Anderson and is expanding its Rosewood location to take over the whole building. But asked if that means they’ll have to change the name, Freid laughs, “No…we’re always east of something.”
How ESP Started
As a culinary grad, Freid spent several years picking up new techniques in Europe in the mid-90s, before settling in Austin and working for several bakeries where Polk also worked. At the end of his shift, Freid would be finishing his deliveries, and bartender and restaurant manager Polk would just be starting his. Eventually a plan was hatched, and with $2K of their own money, an Austin tradition was born. A Chicago transplant, Freid left behind the storied Chicago-style pizza and the sometimes chilly climate and social mores for something very different in Austin. “I had to learn to be nice here,” he says. “Just standing in line at the grocery store, people ask how your day is.” As for the pizza, it couldn’t be more different than the deep-dish, patty-sausage pie his hometown is known for.
1401 Rosewood Ave. (+2 other locations), 512-524-0933