I love pizza. I don’t think this makes me a particularly unique person whatsoever. I think most people like, if not love pizza. What is it about a mess of bread, cheese, sauce, and toppings that makes people so happy? Is it that bread and cheese are some of the best foods in the world? Probably so. Is it that with pizza, the consumer has a choice and they can always have it the way they like it? Probably so. Does it make sense that a food so customizable, so potentially different would be so universally loved? Probably so. The only question that remains then is; why do I care? Why am I so fascinated with pizza? I guess it is because I am just like everyone else.
Currently I live in Chicago, so I’ll start by talking about pizza here. I tend not to be a huge fan of the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. It isn’t bad; it’s a pizza. Something about it though isn’t quite right with me. I think that the crusts are typically delicious. The cheese, however, tends to get lost to me since it is at the bottom of the pizza rather than the top. The sauce tends to also be delicious, nice and chucky and full of tomatoes but I find it generally overpowering. I read somewhere that this style of pizza started in the depression when casserole (or hotdish as weird Minnesotans that are not me call it) was king. They just threw a bunch of stuff together and baked it. Makes sense to me. However it is no longer the depression (although it feels like it sometimes) and we don’t have to eat that way anymore. It reminds me of the question, why do people still eat chitterlings when they have more options than the leftover remnants from the butcher? Some things we may never know.
Another Chicago-type pizza is the stuffed pizza. I love this type. Some people may question how it is that I love stuffed pizza when I don’t like deep-dish but others will understand it. My explanation is this; the stuffed pizza is all about the cheese. You won’t have to search for gooey goodness in this dish. I will go out on a limb and say that my favorite stuffed pizza is from Pizza Capri on Belmont and Sheffield. However, I haven’t had it in years and it is possible it is no longer as good as I remember so if it got bad don’t blame me. In case you don’t know. The stuffed pizza has a relatively thick bottom crust, a thick layer of cheese and whatever toppings you so desire, a very thin top crust, and sauce on the top. Part of what make Pizza Capri’s dish so wonderful is the crisp and flaky buttery delicious crust.
I am also a fan of thin crust pizza. I don’t generally love the super thin cracker crust type pizza but some places do it well and I won’t complain. What I will complain about is how many Chicago pizzerias have the audacity to cut their thin crust pies in squares. Maybe I am the nut here but pizza is supposed to come in slices, each slice with its own crust that you can hold onto (important if you eat your pizza like a normal person which I don’t but that will come later) not in a bunch of squares so that the middle pieces have no crust and although they are deliciously cheesy and toppingy they are undeniably messy. The best thin crust pizza in Chicago I will hand to Ranalli’s. They have a crust with a good thickness and a mighty fine sauce that can stand up to the many toppings you will have on your pizza. Why so many toppings you ask? Because all toppings after the fourth are free!!! You heard it folks, top all you want, we won’t charge you. I will often get pizza with like eight toppings on there and it is so incredibly yummy. Plus they have a colossal list of ingredients so you truly have everything to choose from.
However, in my opinion, no matter how good a thin crust pizza is in Chicago, it has nothing on NY pizza. The huge floppy slices with the greasy cheese and the almost non-existent sauce and just varieties of pies at your disposal is absolute pizza heaven to me. The most common complaint I hear is the blandness of the sauce, that’s what the shakers of oregano, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan are for folks. The thing with a NY pizza is you can truly taste everything because nothing is overpowering. Plus I can order eggplant on my pizza and no one will look at me funny. Ranalli’s has eggplant as a topping option but not too many Chicago places will let you go there (unless they’re fancy). The thing with ordering eggplant in NY is that in some places you will get nice deli-thin sliced eggplant rounds, others you get chunks, and still others you get little cut up pieces of eggplant parmesan. All are delicious. Since I no longer live in NY, I will have to say the best place I can think of is down the street from Sister’s house on Arthur Ave in the Bronx. Their brick oven pizza was fantastic! The regular slices didn’t look too shabby either. The pie came out so nice and crisp yet still floppy in the right places and the eggplant was divine.
To finish off this post (I would really like a slice) I will talk about how I like to eat pizza. Those of you who have enjoyed pizza with me know it is quite an endeavor. I need a knife and fork to eat pizza, no matter what kind it is or how it is sliced. I will always eat the crust first and have before pizza hut stole my thing with their stuffed crust deal. Why, because it’s my least favorite part that’s why. Even the best crust doesn’t have cheese (well the stuffed crust does but that cheese tastes strange like they rolled some string cheese in butter and tries to pass it off as yummy). Then I will cut off the top of the pizza closest to he crust and eat that section first. I’ll work my way down a little bit from that end. Then, I’ll turn it around and work my way up thus leaving the middle section of the pizza to eat last. Why, because it’s my favorite part that’s why. I also like to take my pizza apart and enjoy the cheese and the crust separately. I often do this inside my mouth but sometimes I do it on the plate. Occasionally I will chew a bite all together just to see how it tastes. It usually tastes good but not as good as separately. I actually always save the best bites to eat last, no matter what I am eating. I hate it when someone goes for a bite of my food and they take my saved best bite, I mean I put it aside on the plate for a reason people. Anyway, this has been a really long post about pizza. If I were to have a pizza parlor what songs would be playing? Let’s guess and see.
1.The morn the morn the morn that I was born my old man beat up the Dr. he clocked the Dr. because the Dr. said I looked like Chewbacca.
2.Lady called the blue boy love she took him home made himself an idol yes so he turned to stone. Blue Boy, Joni Mitchell. Identified by Mom
3. In my little town I grew up believing God keeps his eye on us all. My Little Town, Paul Simon (and yes sung by Simon and Garfunkle). Identified by Mom
4. Now here’s a little story I got to tell about three bad brothers you know so well. Paul Revere, Beastie Boys. Identified by Brooke.
5. Standing on the corner of a civilization. There's a time there's a place for me.