Despite the bravado of its name and its slogan (“Forget the Rules!”) Rebel Pizza Bar is a pleasantly mainstream new restaurant on Anderson Lane. Some might consider its graffiti-covered walls a bit edgy, or think its rooftop patio covered in Astroturf and a bocce ball court is somewhat quirky. Or regard its obscure location as rather unorthodox. But once you find it, Rebel Pizza Bar is a conventionally enjoyable place for a night out.
Tucked behind a mattress store and above a Chinese restaurant, Rebel welcomes diners through an industrial stairwell leading up to the second floor dining room. Its interiors are covered in colorful graffiti created by 16 local artists like Justen Foss, Lucas Aoki, and Roshi K. It’s a vibrant explosion of color, shapes and storytelling that will occasionally rotate with new artists. Rebel isn’t breaking any new ground here — Austin restaurants like East Side King and Ramen Tatsu-Ya have featured graffiti art for years — but few have the sprawling space like Rebel to showcase such varied artists’ work.
For sports lovers, TVs are everywhere – in the corners, above the bar, on the patio — and provide sightlines no matter where you sit. With the Super Bowl and March Madness on the horizon, Rebel will undoubtedly be a popular destination for game watching.
In spite of its urban streetwise swagger, Rebel’s food is accessible and crowd-pleasing, as witnessed by its happy mix of families, couples and singles at the bar. It’s not challenging, cutting-edge cuisine; it’s an offering of updated greatest hits. So sit back, relax, and let the comfort food fly. We started with the signature Not Knots, Rebel’s riff on garlic knots: bite-size pizza dough stuffed with cheese and fillings like pepperoni, sausage or sun-dried tomato. They’re so wildly popular they had already sold out of most flavors one evening. There are also bar favorites like hot wings, waffles fries and chicken strips.
To offset our gut-busting sausage Not Knots, we ordered the Rizzo Salad, a heaping tangle of tender arugula dotted with creamy ricotta, toasted almonds, roasted fennel, orange segments and sun-dried tomatoes. Creative twists on Caesar, spinach and Italian salads are also on the menu. But the star at Rebel is the pizza and the Get Up Stand Up pie was the highlight of our meal. The thin, crispy crust was covered with fresh, bright marinara sauce and topped with spicy sausage, mushrooms, fresh jalapeno, homemade ricotta and buffalo mozzarella. It was a powerhouse of flavors and that left us jostling for the last slice.
For dessert, there’s whimsical homemade cotton candy, plus Amy’s ice cream, fudge brownies and hot doughnuts a la mode. And although Rebel offers a full bar, skip the lackluster cocktails and go for the beer or wine, like a frosty Real Ale Hans Pilsner or a juicy glass of 19 Crimes Red Blend. Rebel may pose as a radical badass joint, but it’s really a softy at heart that makes everyone feel right at home.