The newly reopened restaurant offers a decent slice, a friendly ambiance and an interesting range of specialty pizzas.
The old Joe Momma’s marquee sits at 112 S. Elgin, marking an empty shell of a building. I don’t know if the walls are still blackened by July 2015’s fire — I didn’t go inside. Its previous occupant has moved around the corner to 308 E. First St., to a much more lively, spacious and vivacious new building.
Joe Momma’s reopened last Friday to the great excitement and anticipation of many Tulsans. The pizza joint was formerly owned by Tulsa city councilor Blake Ewing, who also operated the Phoenix and White Flag. Ewing is now a minority partner and the restaurant is under new ownership.
Although I never visited the pizza place before it closed due to fire damage, I’d heard my fellow TU students talking since I was an underclassman about what a shame the closing was . So naturally I found myself at Joe Momma’s with a group of friends last Saturday, the restaurant’s second day in business.
The new location has a vague sports-bar vibe, but it’s offset by the zany decor. The walls are plastered with black-and-white photos of people (all with black censorship bars across their eyes — an interesting quirk and apparently Joe Momma’s signature design) and highly relatable slogans like “Pie ‘til we die.”
It’s definitely an inviting space — noisy with chatter and activity, the kind of place where you can ask for crayons to draw on the paper tablecloth and bring home your collectible Joe Momma’s drink cup at the end of the night (which I forgot to do, because I’m a fool). The wait staff seemed a little flustered by the crowds but were accommodating and willing to put up with seating our large group.
We started off with the Momma’s Bread, an appetizer consisting of house-made bread covered in garlic oil and parmesan and served with red sauce. Everyone in our group of six ate two or three breadsticks. It was delicious and an excellent way to ready our taste buds for more cheesy bread, but with toppings this time.
Joe Momma’s pizza selection is interesting, to say the least. They offer an assortment of specialty pizzas with wild toppings and names like “Voodoo Pie,” “Natalie Portman” and “Nathan’s Unlikely Marriage.” My biggest complaint about the experience was probably that many of their specialty pizzas are a little too experimental for my taste, with some featuring toppings like pine nuts, mandarin oranges or marinated pork. Quite a few of them involve some form of sriracha sauce, so it took me a minute to find a non-spicy option. With that said, those who like their pizza on the tamer side can always opt for a custom pie with whatever toppings they like. If you’re not in the mood for pizza, they also offer salads, sandwiches and pastas. The menu doesn’t designate gluten-free or vegetarian/vegan dishes.
We ended up deciding on the Judgement Day (spicy red sauce, sliced hot link, red hot buffalo chicken, pepperoni, red bell peppers and jalapeno peppers) and the Golden Driller (house made alfredo sauce, diced Roma tomatoes, mushrooms, grilled chicken, pine nuts, roasted garlic and cheddar cheese sprinkles). My friends considered but ended up deciding against The Incinerator (salami, ham, crushed black pepper, diced jalapenos, sliced habaneros, a ghost pepper sriracha and a wasabi swirl) in the interest of maintaining their good health. By the way, if you manage to defeat a 14-inch Incinerator by yourself, you earn a spot on Joe Momma’s Wall of Fame and a free t-shirt.
I tried a single bite of the Judgement Day and was absolutely not having it, but my friends who are more partial to spicy foods than I enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed the Golden Driller. The crust was a great consistency, the chicken was cooked well and the garlic flavor really shone. It was a solid piece of New York-style pizza — not incredible, but pretty darn good.
I’d definitely recommend you stop by Joe Momma’s for a slice. My one reservation is that their pizza, while all-around solid, isn’t quite as good as some other local joints (*cough* Andolini’s) for the price point (pies range from roughly $12–$22, depending on the size). But hey, it’s not Joe Momma’s fault that they were born into a city that’s already swimming in outstanding pizza places, and they’re certainly a worthwhile addition to the Tulsa pizza scene.
If you’re a fan of Andolini’s style but want a brighter, friendlier vibe as opposed to Wood-Fired Exposed-Brick Hipster Gourmet, you’ll enjoy Joe Momma’s. You’ll probably also enjoy it if you’re a fan of experimental toppings and sriracha. While not necessarily awe-inspiring, the restaurant rounds out an already thriving local pizza landscape, and I’m glad to see it back in town.