DINING: Agustino's and Magoo's illustrate pizza diversity

January 5, 2009
Not long ago, there was a dearth of quality pizza in Indianapolis. Oh, there were Bazbeaux, Puccini's and a handful of others, but not the density of quality tomato pies that a major metropolitan area demands.

Lately, though, there seem to be new pizza joints opening all the time. And so, this month, we're catching up on newer pizzerias (and some we missed).

Our first stop: Agustino's Pizzeria, a relative newcomer to the grab-a-slice scene near City Market (126 N. Delaware St., 946-3064). Think of Agustino's as a mini version of the New York eateries where every under-glass pie seems to have a different topping and at least one slice already removed. Only here the toppings are limited (including sausage mistakenly labeled as meatball) and the one-man service enthusiastic rather than miserable.

Agustino's slices are of generous size and foldable in the ideal NYC way. The toppings are integrated rather than dumped on (it would be difficult to extract any without removing the cheese) and, while the results aren't likely to lure away fans of downtown standard-bearer Giorgio's, this is still a positive option for the business luncher. A slice of decent cheese pizza will set you back a modest $2.25, one-topping brings you up to $2.75, and the stuffed checks in at $3.99. The pepperoni-stuffed breadsticks ($1.19 each) didn't distinguish themselves but were devoured nonetheless. While it looks like seating is limited, there is actually a multi-table dining area tucked away in the back.

For something completely different, consider Magoo's California Pizza (4919 W. 38th St., 293-4411), where our only quibble is with the name.

That's because this isn't what we usually think of as California pizza. No chi chi, sparse toppings. No overpricing. No attitude. Instead, Magoo's offers terrific thick pies in a quartet of sizes, from personal ($3.49-$6.49) through large ($9.99-$14.99). Substantial and satisfying as the basic cheese ($9.99-$14.99) is, we recommend instead trying the pies that make Magoo's unique, specifically the Chicken Tikki Pizza and the Chappli Kabab Pizza. The former features its marinated chicken succulently balanced with onion, green pepper and tomato. The latter, with more of a coriander kick, isn't for all palates, but it certainly worked for us. And the leftovers heated up nicely in the toaster oven.

All of Magoo's pies are offered with either the familiar red sauce or a creamy garlic sauce. While the latter wouldn't change our standard pizza practice, it's a worthy variation. Next time, perhaps we'll try the ginger-tinted Vegetarian.
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