I first encountered Chef Jaime Fernandez’ food at 44 Bootlegger a few years ago. His creative, Spanish-influenced small plates provided perfect pairings at the now-shuttered wine bar. I was happy to see Chef Jaime return to the Fort Worth dining scene when he started having pop-ups under the name Black Cat Pizza over a year ago. He would take over Stir Crazy Bakery after hours and regularly sell out.
These late night pop-ups featured his wildly inventive pizza that you could buy by the slice. I remember forcing myself to stay out one night at La Zona (the bar across the street) so that I could go try it out for myself right at 11PM when the pop-up started. It did not disappoint and the wait in a long line and the late night dining hour were totally worth it.
South Main Village Location
Fast forward to June of 2019 when Black Cat Pizza transcended pop-up status to become a brick and mortar. The South Main Village area of Fort Worth serves as the location for this casual eatery with the newly opened Funky Picnic situated on the other side of the building from them. The South Main Village area continues to grow and become an epi-center for new and exciting food and drink concepts in Fort Worth. In good company, they join the ranks of Four Sisters, Game Theory and Hot Box Biscuit Club.
When you enter there’s a small patio with bright orange bistro tables and chairs that punctuate the dark gray walls. The posted menu on the patio gives you a sneak peek at what awaits you inside. The galley style interior space gives you a look at all the action going on with an open prep and oven space on the other side of the bar seating. The rest of the minimal space provides a long bench for seating and a few tables. It reminds me of a hidden gem I would stumble onto while traveling. The global soundtrack helps add to that effect.
What sets Black Cat Pizza apart from most other pizza spots in town is that you order by the slice. Of course you can order by the full pie as well. However, ordering by the slice allows you to try more of their unique flavor combinations. They offer an edited selection of pizzas that make up the regular rotation and a limited-time specialty pizza.
Speaking of unique flavors, you’ll find the TMNT and the Red Fang pizzas on the regular pizza rotation. The mysterious initials for the uninitiated stand for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. This slice takes veggies to new heights with green-hued toppings that consists of kale, pesto and other seasonal greens that could include broccoli or zucchini or even brussel sprouts. Slivers of marcona almonds top it all for a pleasant crunch. These unexpected pizza ingredients work in a delightful and delicious way in tandem with the cheese and notable crust. The textures and flavors combine for a crave-worthy bite that make you forget your getting your daily dose of vegetables from a slice of pizza.
A pizza is only as good as its crust and Black Cat delivers a spot-on version. The crust sits somewhere in between a charred Neoplitan and more billowy thick counterparts. At just the right thickness each pizza gets fired at between 600-650 degrees for 3-5 minutes. In my case it’s good enough to eat and not discard the edges or “pizza bones” as I usually do.
Moving on to the Red Fang pizza, this pizza continues the theme of non-traditional toppings. The smoky paprika notes hit your nose first before you even take your first bite. Roasted tomatoes gild the lily on the already solid house tomato sauce and add to the sweetness of the thai-chili infused honey that tops the pizza. Onions add a subtle flavor component in the shadow of the Spanish chorizo that provides the spicy counterpart as do the Calabrian chiles that dot the slice. These seemingly disparate ingredients combine to form the perfect blend of smoky, spicy and sweet.
Those looking for traditional options have cheese, pepperoni and pepperoni mushroom to choose from. The weekly specials vary and can range from an Al Pastor pizza to a barbecue inspired version.
The Latin and Spanish influences on the menu are an exciting cross-over. I was super excited to see a Bocadillo sandwich on the menu. I hadn’t had one since traveling in Spain. The version at Black Cat Pizza stays true to its Spanish origins with a plush baguette stuffed with flavorful cured meats. The only deviation is the topping of an oil drizzled arugula mix and it is a welcome one.
Places like Black Cat Pizza are what I absolutely love about the Fort Worth dining scene. This is a literally homegrown establishment that grew from a funky pop-up to a full brick and mortar. That is an epic-ally huge jump. And Fort Worth diners are so lucky that Chef Jaime who’s a classically trained chef from Le Cordon Bleu and worked in Spain has not only chosen to stay in Fort Worth but that he has also chosen to focus his efforts on a more than affordable dining option as opposed to his white tablecloth pedigree. This chef-driven approach to pizza takes the pizza pie from humble to haute.
The pizza at Black Cat Pizza is unlike any other pizza I’ve ever had and that’s a great thing for Fort Worth. Could you get a cheaper pizza elsewhere – yes, absolutely – but I can guarantee a classically trained chef is not making that pie. The Spanish and Latin influences add to the package and take this casual eatery to another level. Black Cat Pizza is a spot that can put Fort Worth on the map because of its unique offerings and for those that look closely enough for the story told in each slice.
Black Cat Pizza
401 Bryan Ave. Fort Worth TX 76104
Open 11AM – 10PM, Monday – Thursday
Friday – Saturday 11AM – 2AM, Closed Sunday