They say it’s hard to get decent pizza in Asheville. Well, I say that anyways. And so does my mom, and so does just about anyone else who moved down here from up North, where there is an amazing family-owned neighborhood pizza-joint on just about every corner. I’m sorry, South. You’ve got lots of great stuff to eat down here that they don’t have much of in the North — like grits, and pork bellies, and pork belly grits — but when it comes to pizza… well… let me put it this way:
That’s the fucking problem right there, folks. Not enough neighborhood pizza places, too many chains.
When Pizza Hut, CiCi’s and Papa fucking John’s show up in your city’s “pizza” Google results… something is desperately wrong.
To be sure, there are many many more chain pizza shops in Boston Proper than there are in downtown Asheville — probably dozens, or even a hundred or more — it’s not the numbers that we’re talkin’ about here, it’s the ratio that’s so wrong.
The first chain suggested by Google in Boston was Pizzeria Uno (actually not the worst pizza in the world) and that was at, like #37 or something. Google suggested a whopping EIGHTEEN chains in the top 40 results for Asheville. I’m no statistician, but that seems like almost half. Booooo! Or rather, boofuckinghoo, because that’s just sad.
Buhhhttt… It’s actually not my prob, because I am one of the fortunate few to have a rare Asheville neighborhood, independent, non-chain pizza joint right around the corner from my own house. I’m talking about Fresh West Pizza on Depot Street in The River Arts District.
There’s another one in Black Mountain, but two shops does not make a chain, Yo.
The one around the corner from me uses a wood-fired oven to crank out a good old fashioned, flat crust, aged mozzarella pizza, and other standard pizza parlor offerings. This pizza ain’t gonna knock your socks off in a gourmet way, but it scratches the itch I get for pizza jehhhst right, tastes great, fills me up, and doesn’t break the bank to do it. I almost always order the same thing: Cheese Pizza. Here’s what it looks like.
Looks fuckin’ Good right? Well, it is. And good pizza on demand is essential to any healthy neighborhood, so thank you, Fresh West, for contributing to my over-all health and well-being with decent fucking pizza. And… who knew… a great goat cheese, mozzarella, and fresh jalapeño calzone that is my EAT OF THE WEEK!
So, I went to Fresh West to get my usual cheese pizza, but then I shocked the shit out of myself, and my regular server, Michael, by switching it up at the last minute and ordering a calzone of all things! A calzone?!? Who the fuck eats calzones? Apparently I do.
Just in case you’re, like, insanely out of touch with the world, a calzone is basically a folded-over pizza, that’s all crimped together along the outer-edges to form a half-circle-shaped dough-pocket of molten hot pizza toppings. I haven’t had a calzone in over 20 years — I am 100% sure of that — so I don’t know what the eff got in me, but before I knew it, I was laughing out loud and ordering a calzone! I added the goat cheese and jalapeños from a list of options, and mentioned to Michael that it had been a couple of decades since my last calzone.
“Here’s your 20-year calzone,” he said as he delivered a giant-sized, piping hot pizza-package to my table. I was frightened. What on Earth had I gotten myself into?
As I cut in, hot death oozed out. Delicious, amazing, oh-so-gooey-and-awesome hot fucking death. This humble calzone delivered a straight-up eye-roll of ecstatic food joy to my face. I may have even groaned a little bit out loud. Dunno. Too lost in my world of goat cheese and salty, chewy, doughy, saucy, mozzaaaarelllaaaaaa… I went into a food coma halfway through. I should have stopped. I didn’t stop. I kept on eating. And eating. And… oh god. So good.
I didn’t actually finish this monster, but it was so damn tasty, that I ate more than half, and I was completely stuffed. I ate the rest the next morning after toaster-ovening it for a bit, and it was awesome all over again.
Thank you Fresh West for re-introducing me to the unique awesomeness of the humble calzone, you nailed it, and that’s why it is my EAT OF THE WEEK!
As for other good pizza around town, everyone has their favorites, and that usually has something to do with how close by it is, but I will never for the life of me understand how anyone… en.. eeeee… wunnnn… can order pizza from a turd factory like Papa Johns or Little Sleazers, even down South. Gross!
Fresh West Pizza
Address: 342 Depot St, Asheville, NC 28801
Phone: (828) 552-3917
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org
Looks like a burnt cheese pizza. How inspiring?
Best pizza in Asheville BY FAR!