by Steven Doyle
News from the undisputed King of Late Night Pho, Khanh Nguyen owner of DaLat, says that he will open a late night pizza parlor next to his pho-riffic restaurant on Fitzhugh in Dallas. Nguyen will be taking over the former Pastazio’s location which closed in November of 2014 and situated next door to DaLat at 2519 North Fitzhugh Avenue. The restaurateur plans to name the pizza joint ZaLat, to open late nights and with delivery. Projected to open sometime in February.
ZaLat will be open from 5pm to midnight to start, with the ultimate goal of staying open until 4am. Nguyen said in an interview today that neighboring El Come Taco is looking at staying open late into the night as well, making that section of Fitzhugh a dining Mecca for service industry workers and the apres-bar crowd. He is also working with El Come to develop a pizza with a south-of-the-border flair, a street taco pizza made with al pastor. Other pies with an ethnic flair include a Reuben that he says is to die for, and might be better than its sandwich counterpart. We are particularly looking forward to a Thai pizza based on the meatball shooters served at DaLat.
Nguyen has been working on a pho pizza, but says he has not quite perfected that one yet. He will keep trying. We are particularly interested in his proposed Mexican Street Corn pizza called Zalotes. Some of the styles he has worked on may not make it to the main menu might possibly be offered as specials, such as his Spaghetti-O’s and corn chip pizza, and a Nutella, Golden Graham and strawberry dessert pizza. He says they all taste great but some may not be commercially viable.
With some of the wackier pies out of the way, and we have never known Nguyen to play by traditional rules, he will also be offering traditional pies like a pepperoni, a supreme and a Margherita pizza. They will also offer the standard pick your own ingredients pies.
We asked Nguyen to describe the style of pizza and he said it would be, “cross between Neapolitan and New York. I wanted the flavor of a Neapolitan but the texture and crust hardiness of New York. It has to be foldable and “hand eatable. If i was shit housed in New York City at 3 am and I staggered into a corner pizza place, what I’m hoping for at that moment is my goal.” Other criteria includes the taste test. “Our pizzas have to taste great: out of the oven, 3 hours later after sitting out, cold out of the fridge the next morning, and reheated in an oven 2 days later. If they can’t do that, they won’t go on the menu. These are all the things I want out of pizza when I order it personally. Not fancy fru fru pizza. Just good honest alcohol soaking, savory deliciousness.”
ZaLat will also have the ability to order online and an Uber style delivery model where you can see the driver coming to you on a map on your phone. “I figure I can get pizzas to you faster with an Uber model versus old style making 5 deliveries at once. You pay a little more for the delivery, but I can get them to you much faster and I can have a much wider delivery area”, Nguyen continued.
Nguyen has had many of the city’s top chefs consult with him on the pizzas. One very well known, and unnamed chef who hails from New York stopped in this week to sample a test pie and said it was the “best crust he has had in Dallas, ever!” Nguyen has picked up many friends that are great chefs since he is often at DalLat late at night when these pros are getting off work. The pizza chef will be Jonathan Parker whose resume includes the Green Room, Libertine, The Grape and Restaurant Ava. Parker grew up in a Jewish household, but for some reason his father loved Vietnamese food. So they ate Vietnamese every night and the chef has a distinct Vietnamese palate. That’s how the two became friends.
You will not find wings, sandwiches, or other non-pizza items on the menu. For now Zalat will be BYOB. Look for the pies at ZaLat to range from $10 to $20.