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Bite of the Week: White Pizza at Columbia's The Pizza Joint

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$3.95 per slice ($18.95 for a 14-inch pie; $25.95 for a 20-inch). 3246 Forest Dr. thepizzajoint.net.

White pizza is a precarious balancing act.

If your base is too oily, the crust becomes sodden, and the entire experience is uncomfortably wet. The cheeses need to layer, not become a dense and arduous mass of fatty dairy. Your addition of garlic and herbs needs to enhance the flavors of the crust and cheese without becoming the slice equivalent of Crazy Bread.

For my money, nobody in the Midlands pulls these tricks better than The Pizza Joint, where the White Pizza might just be the tastiest pie on the menu. Oil and ricotta form the pizza’s bottom layer, rich and fluid, but not to the point that they burst onto your shirt when you take a bite. The mozzarella and romano on top give each slice the necessary gooey and savory seal, and Pizza Joint’s sweet, amply garlic-buttered crust enriches the dynamic flavors.

There’s enough complexity to each bite to enjoy it at lunch time accompaniment by a salad and a Diet Coke, but it’s not so overpowering that you couldn’t also grab an exceptional IPA from the Joint’s ever-impressive tap list — on my last visit, I went with the smooth and citrusy Yard Breather from The Dreamchaser’s Brewery out of Waxhaw, North Carolina.

And if you, like me, aren't yet ready to go back to eating inside restaurants during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you’ll be glad to see The Pizza Joint has upgraded its outdoor area in the past couple years, adding a wooden trellis above its outdoor patio to distract from the cars zipping down Forest Drive.

Or you could just grab a pie to go, and enjoy it with a six-pack at home.

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