Why should wine have all the fun with pairings? Here’s what to slurp down alongside your next slice of pizza. We went to Fong’s Pizza, 223 Fourth St., and asked manager Josh Gillaspey, 30, about his favorite drinks and the pizzas they complement.
IPA + Spicy Pizza
Craving a tongue-burning kick in your pie? Gillaspey says that spicy toppings like hot sauce, jalapenos and red peppers really shine with the help of an India pale ale. “If you want to accent the spice in there and really bring it forward, the hops in an IPA are really going to help it pop,” he says. Atop his list are the Stone IPA ($4), which is extra hoppy with a citrus accent, and the Breckenridge’s 471 ($4), which combines a hint of pine with big hops-based flavor. Conversely, if you want to dial the heat back a bit, try a malty brown beer like the Downtown Brown from Lost Coast Brewery.
Crispin + Rich Pizza
If extra cheese and creamy sauces are more your speed, crack open a Crispin Hard Apple Cider ($4) for the enhanced experience. In this case, the fruit-forward flavor of the cider works as a buffer against the savory tastes of a dairy-heavy pizza, while keeping with the smooth flavor of the dish. For example, Fong’s bacon popper pizza, which has a cream cheese base topped with bacon, onion, jalapeno, red and green peppers, Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese. “The crispness of the cider is going to cut through the richness of the cream cheese, and it’s really going to give you a break from that creamy flavor,” Gillaspey says.
Manhattan + BBQ Pizza
Some pizza pioneers prefer the smoky taste of barbecue with their dinner. So if you opt for a slice with slow-roasted pork piled high, try pairing your BBQ pizza with a Manhattan (about $4.25 for mid-level liquor). The classic cocktail — crafted with bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters — adds a sweet kick to juicy meat. “The smokiness of the bourbon is going to blend with the barbecue sauce and bring the flavor out,” Gillaspey says. “The bitters are going to act as a note for spiciness and saltiness of the pork.”
The Fong’s adaptation of the BBQ pizza is called the Iowan, which packs Canadian bacon, pork, bacon, corn and mozzarella, all topped with a sweet barbecue sauce.