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Daily Slice: Hearth Pizza Tavern, Sandy Springs, Georgia

Daily Slice gives a quick snapshot each weekday of a different slice or pie that the folks at the Serious Eats empire have enjoyed lately.

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By my calculations, the city of New Haven, Connecticut is 967 miles from my front door. That's a long damn way to go to pick up Frank Pepe's famous contribution to the global pizzascape, the white clam pie. Hearth Pizza Tavern in the northern 'burb of Sandy Springs seems to be one of the few shops in Atlanta to offer it on the menu. "The Great White Clam" is a white "New Haven-style" pizza with clams, a blend of cheeses, fennel sausage, roasted cremini mushrooms, fresh dried oregano, and parsley. For my first clam pie, a 2,000-mile round trip was out of the question. But 9.6? That's more like it. To Hearth I went.

As the name suggests, the pizzas (along with just about everything else on the menu that's cooked) get blasted in a monstrous custom-fabricated, gas-fired steel hearth. In awfully short order, it gave the thin but airy dough subtle spots of deep-golden-brown-to-almost-black. On top, everything congealed together awesomely, held in place by just enough cheese. Loved the toppings: big hunks of sausage, earthy mushrooms, and a nice mix of herbs, including a liberal dose of garlic. As for the clams, I don't delude myself into believing that the clams are fresh from the ocean and hand-shucked to order. (It is, after all, 250 miles from the ATLantic to the ATL; a seaport, we're not.) But I found the bivalves on my first clam pizza to have a pleasant chew with an unexpected but noticeable squeak. I don't know how Hearth Pizza Tavern's "Great White Clam" compares to the legendary clam pies of New Haven, but at 10 bucks for an 8-inch pie, it's a cost-effective way to enjoy the essence of the famed Northeastern specialty in the Deep South.

Hearth Pizza Tavern
5992 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, GA 30328 (map)

404-252-5378; www.hearthpizzatavern.com

About the author: Todd Brock lives the glamorous life of a stay-at-home freelance writer in the suburbs of Atlanta. Besides being paid to eat cheeseburgers for A Hamburger Today and pizza for Slice, he's written and produced over 1,000 hours of television and is the author of Building Chicken Coops for Dummies. When he grows up, he wants to be either the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys or the drummer for Hootie & the Blowfish. Or both.

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