- Alex Springer
Pizza has been there for me for most of the major crises in my lifetime. So whenever I consider adding something new to my arsenal of food that will help me forget about the crisis du jour for a few precious moments, I ask myself if I like it as much as I like pizza.
Though the humble pizza pie has been a go-to for most of my life, tikka masala or saag with a few slabs of naan have come very close to dethroning pizza as my comfort food champion over the past few years. That said, when Curry Pizza (multiple locations, currypizzautah.com) opened its West Valley location a few years ago, I felt a mixture of elation and skepticism. How could something this daring possibly exist without tearing a hole in the fabric of reality?
The concept for Curry Pizza began in the small Southern Utah town of Bicknell with local culinary daredevil Bhinda Singh. While operating Bhinda's Curry Pizza Palace, Singh developed a recipe for honey curry. In a fever of experimentation, Singh slathered his new creation on a naan-inspired pizza crust, dressed it up with mozzarella cheese and popped it in the oven. Once it arrived in its melty, spicy-sweet glory, he knew he had something special. Bicknell knew it too—his creation created enough buzz down South for him to move the operation to the Wasatch Front. Currently, Curry Pizza has three locations; Singh also operates India Palace in Provo, which serves traditional Indian food.
Though I've been to Curry Pizza several times since it first opened, I distinctly remember my first visit to the West Valley location. It's got a fast-casual vibe that you've seen before—plexiglass counters protecting vast bins of veggies and other pizza toppings—but the aromas of slow-roasting curry and lamb let you know that this is a place that knows what it's doing. I also noticed that Curry Pizza is well-stocked with traditional pizza fixings like pepperoni and sausage, which I get. But if you come here and get a goddamn pepperoni pizza, I will find out about it and come after you.
It's tempting to let the sheer amount of customization options lure you into creating some Frankenstein's monster of pizza, but your best bet is to take a look at the restaurant's signature curry pizzas. For your first visit, the obvious choice is to go with the curry pizza ($16.49 for a medium, which is plenty for two people). You get a choice of chicken tikka, lamb, paneer or tofu, and you can't really go wrong with any of them. Once you've chosen your protein destiny, it gets hit with signature curry sauce, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, red onions, scallions, cilantro and jalapeños. When it's done, the veggies, herbs and peppers are nicely caramelized, and that sauce ramps up the natural flavors of each ingredient. The end result is exactly what you want it to be—the melted cheese and naan crust evoke everything you love about pizza while the curry tickles your taste buds with its dazzling array of spices.
The tikka masala pizza (pictured, $16.49 for a medium) is another great example of this conceptual fusion—it's just familiar enough to catch a pizza purist's attention. The tikka masala bridges the gap between Indian and Italian food nicely with its tomato-forward flavor, and its signature smoky flavor adds all kinds of new flavor profiles to the traditional pizza canvas. With its fresh tomatoes, green peppers and jalapeños, it's awesome for those craving pizza with a lighter feel. It's usually tough to talk me into putting more veggies than meat on a pizza, but this one balances its ingredients nicely.
I also appreciate the way Curry Pizza has adopted the chicken wings ($9.95) that have become ubiquitous with today's pizza places. Not that I'm a huge fan of chicken wings—I can usually take them or leave them—but the idea of mixing the Indian spice blend into traditional chicken wing sauce is extremely clever. They offer more common flavors like garlic parmesan, barbecue and Buffalo, but you're much better off getting the butter curry or the honey curry. Anyone who considers themselves a chicken wing connoisseur needs to check this place out for some new flavors to add to their repertoire.
I could continue to gush about how much I love the fact that Singh combined two of my all-time favorite comfort foods into one delicious package, but the real revelation here is how well all of it works. Tikka masala works brilliantly on pizza, and butter curry makes a fantastic wing sauce, but the amalgam of cultures and flavors in a fast-casual setting is what I love about American restaurants. Curry Pizza thrives on a spirit that combines innovative ideas with the culinary chops to pull them off, and it will be exciting to see what they come up with next.